Commentary

Mississippi powers collide

Updated: November 25, 2009, 3:26 PM ET
By Mark Tennis | ESPN RISE

Game of the Week

No. 32 Madison Central (Madison, Miss.) 13-0 at No. 44 South Panola (Batesville, Miss.) 12-1

This Class 6A state semifinal pits one team with a phenomenal track record of success in the Mississippi playoffs playing at home against one that has dominated all comers this season but must erase a poor playoff history. Madison Central won its only state title 10 years ago and is facing an opponent that won six straight state crowns until last year ... and in that loss, South Panola took the game to overtime before falling.

[+] EnlargeJake Heaps
Kevin P Casey for ESPN/RiseIf Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) and QB Jake Heaps want to repeat as state champs, they'll have to get past Bothell (Bothell, Wash.).

Quarterback Peyton Johnson leads a balanced attack for Madison Central. He accounted for four touchdowns in last week's 54-23 victory over Olive Branch. Running back Nick Parker is the standout for South Panola. He rushed for 274 yards in last week's 35-0 shutout of Clinton.

Madison Central (13-0) has been No. 1 in the state since the preseason. South Panola is 12-1, with its loss to FAB 50 No. 30 Memphis University School (Memphis, Tenn.) in a game decided on a last-second field goal. Since 2002, South Panola has posted a 101-2 record.

Player to Watch

Jason Fracassa
Stevenson (Sterling Heights, Mich.)

The Division I state final in Michigan on Saturday between Fracassa's Dragons, who are 13-0 and No. 38 in the FAB 50, and No. 49 Detroit Catholic Central (13-0), should be epic. The senior quarterback figures to be front and center and would cap a storybook season with a state title. Fracassa, the state's all-time leader for touchdown passes and passing yards, has thrown for 3,712 yards and 39 touchdowns this season. He had 488 yards and four scores two weeks ago against Detroit Southeastern in the quarterfinals, and last week he had 416 yards and three more scores in a semifinal win against previously unbeaten Clarkston. There are quarterbacks in Michigan who are more well-known by college recruiters, but Fracassa could make any decision about which quarterback should be the state player of the year a quick and easy one.

Upset Alert

No. 35 Bothell (Bothell, Wash.) 12-0 vs. Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) 10-2
When unranked Bothell knocked off two-time defending state champ Skyline 25-20 four weeks ago, it qualified as the upset of the week. The tables could be turned Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Bothell heads into the Class 4A semifinal boasting one of the nation's top defenses, having allowed just 67 points in 12 games and pitching six shutouts. It will be tested by Skyline's high-powered offense, led by Elite 11 quarterback Jake Heaps, a BYU recruit, and super junior receiver Kasen Williams. Skyline was hurt by turnovers and penalties in the first meeting.

Jared Lanpher
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comSenior QB Jared Lanpher leads a three-headed offensive attack for Blue Springs (Blue Springs, Mo.).

Team on the RISE?

Blue Springs (Blue Springs, Mo.)

The 12-1 Wildcats are on the cusp of the FAB 50 rankings as they prepare for the Missouri Class 6 championship game Friday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis against 12-1 Hazelwood Central (Florissant, Mo.). Blue Springs has vanquished two of its toughest opponents over the past two weeks, first avenging a regular-season loss to Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.) with a 23-21 win and then pounding previous Southwest Region No. 20 DeSmet (St. Louis, Mo.) 35-5 last week. Central is the defending Class 6 state champion, but it will have to deal with Blue Springs' triplets on offense: junior running back Darrian Miller (2,600 yards and 35 TDs rushing), senior quarterback Jared Lanpher (1,830 yards and 24 TD passes) and senior Kansas State recruit Keeston Terry at wide receiver (69 receptions for 909 yards and 11 touchdowns).

Mark Tennis is a deputy editor for ESPN RISE.

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