Another epic tilt in Atlanta
Game of the Week
No. 30 Northside (Warner Robins, Ga.) 12-1 vs. No. 35 Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) 12-2
A week ago, the Georgia Dome was hoppin' with college football's showdown of the year between Alabama and Florida. This Saturday, the Class AAAAA state final on the same turf promises to be just as intense. It's a matchup between the defending champion, Camden County, and the school that won it the two previous years, Northside.
Camden County began the season 1-2, but both losses were to strong opponents. Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) defeated the Wildcats, 14-10, was ranked as high as No. 13 in the FAB 50 before losing in the playoffs. Meanwhile, current FAB 50 No. 26 Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) edged Camden County, 30-27, and won the Class 6A Alabama state title this past weekend. Since then, the Wildcats (12-2) have won 11 consecutive games, including a 19-10 semifinal victory over Colquitt County in which senior Aundre Johnson ran for 246 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Northside dropped its only game of the season, 21-20, to cross-town rival Warner Robins (Warner Robins, Ga.). In the playoffs, the Eagles have soared with four victories so far, including last week's 29-24 victory over Newnan (Newnan, Ga.), which was unbeaten and ranked No. 28 in the FAB 50 at the time. In the squad's win over Newnan, quarterback Briar Van Brunt looked back to full strength after missing one week with an injury. He had 141 yards rushing with one touchdown pass and one touchdown run.
Player to Watch
Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)
This senior quarterback has been like a magician with his feet, hands and arm all season long for Servite. Now he has the FAB 50 No. 37 Friars (12-1) ready to make a bid for their first CIF Southern Section championship since 1983 when they play FAB 50 No. 6 Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.), which is 13-0, on Saturday night at Angels Stadium. Earlier in the season, Edison handed Fajardo and company their only loss in a 23-9 contest. Last week, when Servite edged unbeaten Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Fajardo fired a 50-yard touchdown pass to Rudy Guerrero with 2:55 left that ended up being the winning score. It was a play in which he appeared to be heading downfield for a scramble but pulled up and tossed the pass to Guerrero. For the season, Fajardo, who is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, has passed for 2,179 yards and 19 touchdowns and has rushed for 941 yards and eight more scores. He has some Division I college interest, but another big game on this stage could net Fajardo a more solid offer.
No. 3 Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) 13-0 at Serra (Gardena, Calif.) 13-0
The Lions have just one more obstacle to overcome before possibly earning a spot in the CIF Open Division State Bowl Game, which could pit quarterback Nick Montana versus De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), where he played his freshman and sophomore seasons. Serra will pose an interesting challenge with the wealth of Division I talent the Cavaliers possess, most notably at wide receiver where USC-bound Robert Woods teams with Paul Richardson and sensational junior George Farmer. Since the Lions had trouble containing Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) receiver Kasen Williams when those two teams played in September, Woods and Farmer pose a double threat. Oaks Christian also will have to guard against overconfidence as well, as the Lions whipped Serra, 63-28, in last year's CIF Northwest Division final. Serra comes into the game at No. 9 in the CalHiSports.com state rankings. Oaks Christian has been No. 1 in those rankings since the preseason.
Team on the RISE?
Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.)
The 13-1 Raiders entered the FAB 50 at No. 50 this past week and face off with No. 49 Cocoa (Cocoa, Fla.) on Saturday in the Florida Class 2A state title game. A win this week could propel the Raiders much further up the charts, especially considering their early season resume, which includes wins over 4A contender Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), who was a preseason FAB 50-ranked team, and also American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.), which will be playing for the 1A title this weekend as well. The Raiders have Division I talent that belies their small school classification, led by Florida State-bound WR Greg Dent, West Virginia recruit Travis Bell at safety and standout junior wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Mark Tennis is a deputy editor for ESPN RISE.