High-SchoolNew-Jersey: Michael Giacone

Don Bosco Prep football faces big test in opener

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
6:10
PM ET
For weeks, we've talked about the juggernaut that is Don Bosco Prep's football game. Four straight state titles. 35 consecutive wins. No. 1 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50.

This weekend, the curtain will finally be raised on the Ironmen and the Jersey football scene.

Don Bosco is waiting no time proving its worth as the nation's top team as it hosts No. 6 Mission Viejo (Calif.), a program that's produced the likes of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. This year's quarterback, Alex Bridgford, looked solid in the Diablos' opener, passing for four touchdowns. But the Ironmen defense present quite the challenge for Bridgford.

From lineman Darius Hamilton and Mike Strizak to defensive backs Elijah Shumate, Yuri Wright and Jabrill Peppers, the Ironmen have the potential to lock down any and every opponent that comes their way. (Good thing, too, judging by the monster schedule Don Bosco has this season).

The X-factor could be Ironmen quarterback Mike Yankovich. The senior replaces two-year starter Gary Nova, who is now at Rutgers. Yankovich has a good target in All-State wideout Leonte Carroo, but he certainly has little time for growing pains with a squad like Mission Viejo coming to town.
Prediction: Don Bosco 28, Mission Viejo 24

No. 5 St. Peter's Prep vs. Montclair at Rutgers
This matchup serves as the biggest in-state matchup, as there's plenty of star power on both sides. St. Peter's Prep has the experience edge, boasting senior quarterback Brandon Napoleon (West Virginia commit) and tight end Michael Giacone (Rutgers). In pursuit of Napolen will be All-State defensive lineman Julian Pinnix-Odrick, who had 82 tackles and 10 sacks last season.
Prediction: St. Peter's Prep 35, Montclair 21

Hammonton at Mainland Regional
It will be quite the emotional weekend for Mainland Regional's football team. Not only is the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 sure to be heavy on some minds, but this will mark the first game played by the Mustangs since losing four teammates in a tragic car crash in August.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

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