Friday, September 16, 2011
Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic take on Florida powers
By By Brandon Parker
To say the least, New Jersey powers Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic are pulling no shots when it comes to establishing their national profile.
Last week, Don Bosco, the nation's top-ranked team, took care of business against No. 6 Mission Viejo (Calif.), letting loose its ferocious defense in a 35-7 win. Bergen Catholic, meanwhile, handily defeated a solid La Salle College (Pa.) team, 41-17.
This week, both of the programs travel south to Florida with hopes of throwing some shade on two Sunshine powers.
(Shameless plug: I'll be on 1050 ESPN Radio NY tonight around 11:15 p.m., talking Don Bosco, Bergen Catholic and more football on the High School GameNight show. Check it out if it's not past your bedtime.)
No. 1* Don Bosco Prep (1-0) at No. 19* Manatee (Fla.) (1-1) (*national rankings) One streak will end after these two meet in a huge Friday matchup. Don Bosco has won 36 straight games, but Manatee hasn't lost a home game since Oct. 30, 2009.
The Ironmen enter as the favorite, boasting a very balanced attack. John Wilkins and Jabrill Peppers (183 rushing yards and four touchdowns) lead the offense while a wealth of D-1 recruits anchor a nasty defense. Plus, the Ironmen easily handled their last nationally ranked opponent, while Manatee lost a double-overtime contest to No. 9 Good Counsel (Washington, D.C.) in its opener.
Earning a win in Manatee's house is no easy task, but should the Ironmen defense be able to pressure quarterback Cord Sanberg like they did Mission Viejo's Alex Bridgord (four interceptions, six sacks), it could be a long night for the Hurricanes.
My pick: Don Bosco 28, Manatee 17
No. 48* Bergen Catholic (1-0) at Plant (Fla.) (2-0) (*national ranking) In the second game of the doubleheader at Hawkins Stadium in Bradenton, Fla. Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile admitted to me before the season that the Crusaders had graduated some key players, but he likes their depth. This much was clear in their 41-17 opening win. In his first varsity start, junior Jonathan Germano tore apart the Explorers' defense with 315 passing yards and five total touchdowns. The Crusaders' defense, which has nine returning starters, also looked stout. But again, playing in a big atmosphere on the road isn't easy, especially for the second straight week.
Plant is led by quarterback James Few, who had three touchdowns in last week's 36-6 win against Hillsborough (Fla.). Like the Don Bosco-Manatee contest, defense will be key for the New Jersey side, as the Crusaders hope to give their offense enough breathing room to break out early on.
My pick: Bergen Catholic 31, Plant 21
No. 6 St. Joseph (Mont.) at No. 10 St. Peter's Prep This should be a good one. St. Peter's Prep looks to bounce back after a wild 43-41 loss to Montclair, but it won't be easy against an always tough St. Joseph (Mont.) squad. There's no doubt the Marauders can score with Brandon Napoleon under center; the question is can they do so against a solid St. Joseph defense.
My pick: St. Joseph (Mont.) 31, St. Peter's Prep 28
Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at email@example.com.