The MaxPreps Top 10 Games of the Week includes the biggest showdown of the season in one of the nation's top high school football communities.
Valdosta (Ga.) has the most wins in prep football history but hasn't beaten its crosstown rival Lowndes since 2003. The Wildcats are off to a 6-0 start for the first time in nearly a decade and will be looking to settle a score against the Vikings.
Elsewhere in the Southeast, the most anticipated game of the year in Miami takes place with Northwestern hosting Central. Northwestern is No. 1 in the Associated Press state 6A poll and Central is ranked No. 2. In the Midwest, East Grand Rapids (Mich.) hopes to extend its 25-game winning streak but will be tested severely when it travels to unbeaten Lowell. Down in Texas, a pair of state-ranked, unbeaten squads square off with Lufkin playing at The Woodlands.
After a stellar 8-2 effort last week, MaxPreps National Football Editor Stephen Spiewak (53-17 overall) has opened a six-game advantage on his nearest competitors in the season-long prediction contest. Two-time defending predictions champion MaxPreps Projections went 9-1 last week to pull into a tie for a second place with Top 10 Games of the Week author Jamie DeMoney. Steve Montoya is alone in fourth place, eight games behind the leader. Kevin Askeland and Mitch Stephens are still tied for last place and are 12 games off the pace. You can track the season-long standings and all the weekly results here
Here's a look at this week's Top 10 Games of the Week along with predictions from MaxPreps staff writers and contributors Mitch Stephens, Steve Montoya, Stephen Spiewak, Kevin Askeland, Jamie DeMoney and projections for the games by the MaxPreps computer rankings:Lowndes (Valdosta) at Valdosta (Ga), FINAL Lowndes 24-17
Lowndes has won the past six contests in this heated rivalry, nicknamed the Winnersville Classic by a former sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times. The Vikings (5-1) have allowed only seven points in three games since a week-three loss to McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.). But they struggled on offense last time out in a 3-0 win against Ware County (Waycross, Ga.). Senior
provided their only points with a 46-yard field goal.
While Lowndes has won four state titles in 11 years and dominated this series in recent years, Valdosta is still the nation's most prolific prep football program with 855 wins and 23 state titles since 1913. The Wildcats own a lifetime 33-15 advantage over the Vikings and appear poised to add to their win total this year. First-year coach Rance Gillespie has the team 6-0 for the first time since 2001. Jay Rome
, MaxPreps' No. 1-rated tight end, had two touchdown receptions in last week's 43-28 defeat of King (Lithonia, Ga.). Mitch Stephens:
Lowndes 35, Valdosta 31Steve Montoya:
Valdosta 28, Lowndes 21Stephen Spiewak:
Lowndes, 21, Valdosta 17Kevin Askeland:
Lowndes 30, Valdosta 21Jamie DeMoney:
Lowndes 21, Valdosta 20MaxPreps Projection:
Lowndes 28, Valdosta 21Norcross (Ga.) at North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.), FINAL North Gwinnett 38-0
Norcross and North Gwinnett enter this key 5A Region 7 battle with matching 5-0 records. It is Norcross' first undefeated record this late in the season since 2006. The Blue Devils, ranked seventh in the state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, were idle last week. Last time out, in a 34-19 win against Mill Creek (Hoschton, Ga.), they were boosted by senior Kendrix Huitt's 175 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
North Gwinnett has won twice since defeating Los Angeles power Crenshaw on national television in week three of the season. Like Norcross, the Bulldogs have had an extra week to prepare for this game. They were also not really tested last time out in a 45-0 rout of winless Meadowcreek (Norcross, Ga.). Auburn-bound quarterback CJ Uzomah
was a perfect 10-for-10 passing and accounted for three touchdowns in the game. Mitch Stephens:
Norcross 21, North Gwinnett 20Steve Montoya:
North Gwinnett 45, Norcross 28 Stephen Spiewak:
North Gwinnett 21, Norcross 17Kevin Askeland:
Norcoss 32, North Gwinnett 14Jamie DeMoney:
North Gwinnett 23, Norcross 13MaxPreps Projection:
North Gwinnett 19, Norcross 17 Central (Miami) at Northwestern (Miami), FINAL Central 25-22
There will be plenty of Division I talent on the field and recognition as South Florida's top Class 6A program will be on the line when these rivals meet. Central has won four in a row since its opening 45-42 loss at nationally ranked Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) and is averaging 47 points per game this season. The Rockets have a dynamic offensive backfield, featuring Florida International-bound quarterback Rakeem Cato
and running back Devonta Freeman
, who is headed to Florida State. The two combined for 376 total yards in a 33-6 rout of Carol City (Miami) last week.
Northwestern won the regular-season matchup against Central last year but then was bounced by the Rockets in the playoffs. Teddy Bridgewater
, MaxPreps' fifth-rated combo passer in the nation, is a three-year starter and a University of Miami recruit. He passed for 249 yards, accounted for all four touchdowns, and led a game-winning drive last week in a 26-25 defeat of Washington (Miami, Fla.). Mitch Stephens:
Central 28, Northwestern 22Steve Montoya:
Northwestern 24, Central 17Stephen Spiewak:
Central, 42, Northwestern 31Kevin Askeland:
Central 40, Northwestern 38Jamie DeMoney:
Central 32, Northwestern 21MaxPreps Projection:
Central 35, Northwestern 31DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) at Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), FINAL DeMatha 31-28
What is annually one of the top rivalry games on the East Coast lost some luster when DeMatha (3-2) was upset by Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rival Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) last week. It was the Stags' first loss to a WCAC opponent other than Good Counsel since the 2002 league championship game, when the opponent was also Gonzaga. This is a talented team with more than a dozen likely Division I signees that simply hasn't hit on all cylinders so far this season.
Good Counsel lost to DeMatha in the regular season then avenged the defeat to win its first WCAC title last season. The Falcons are 4-1, with their only loss coming to Gilman (Baltimore), which also beat DeMatha. Senior defensive back Blake Countess
returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns and junior running back Marsean Diggs
added his seventh and eighth rushing scores of the season in a 48-0 blowout of Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) last week. Mitch Stephens:
Good Counsel 28, DeMatha 24Steve Montoya:
Good Counsel 21, DeMatha 20Stephen Spiewak:
Good Counsel 28, DeMatha 14Kevin Askeland:
DeMatha 21, Good Counsel 14Jamie DeMoney:
Good Counsel 29, DeMatha 25MaxPreps Projection:
Good Counsel 35, DeMatha 17St. Xavier (Cincinnati) at La Salle (Cincinnati), FINAL La Salle 27=24
This game could go a long way toward deciding supremacy in the Greater Catholic League-South, which last week was named the toughest league in America by MaxPreps
. The Bombers are 4-2 against their annually brutal schedule that includes only one team with a losing record – and that team happens to be Elder (Cincinnati), another traditional state Division I power. In a 35-10 blowout of Elder last week, St. Xavier got seven tackles and three sacks from standout linebacker Steven Daniels
and 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns from junior running back Conor Hundley
La Salle is 6-0 for the first time in the 50-year history of its program. The Lancers have won every game by at least 20 points, including last week's 33-13 defeat of Northeast Ohio Catholic stalwart Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio). They are led by one of the top dropback passers in the state in Drew Kummer
, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound Miami (Ohio) recruit. Mitch Stephens:
La Salle 21, St. Xavier 20Steve Montoya:
La Salle 24, St. Xavier 17Stephen Spiewak:
St. Xavier 21, La Salle 20Kevin Askeland:
La Salle 28, St. Xavier 14Jamie DeMoney:
St. Xavier 23, La Salle 10MaxPreps Projection:
St. Xavier 21, La Salle 19East Grand Rapids (Mich.) at Lowell (Mich.), FINAL EGR 44-40
East Grand Rapids figures to have more than its hands full when it travels to fellow unbeaten Lowell in a huge OK White Conference tilt. The Pioneers have won 25 consecutive games with just six losses since 2004, but Lowell is responsible for four of them. Last week, the four-time defending Division 3 state champion erased a 7-6 halftime deficit and vanquished previously unbeaten Greenville, 35-14.
Lowell, the defending Division 2 champion and top-ranked team in the state in that classification, has steamrolled every opponent in its way this season, winning by an average margin of 49-2. Junior quarterback Gabe Dean
ran for 244 yards and seven touchdowns last week in a 55-7 blowout at Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.). Mitch Stephens:
Lowell 24, East Grand Rapids 21Steve Montoya:
Lowell 42, East Grand Rapids 31Stephen Spiewak:
Lowell, 28, East Grand Rapids 21Kevin Askeland:
East Grand Rapids 21, Lowell 20Jamie DeMoney:
Lowell 34, East Grand Rapids 17MaxPreps Projection:
Lowell 27, East Grand Rapids 20 Lufkin (Texas) at The Woodlands (Texas), FINAL The Woodlands 49-33
The 5A-14 District title could be decided midway through the season in this matchup of undefeated and state-ranked teams. Lufkin is off to its best start since 2006. It improved to 6-0 last week with a 45-10 blowout of Atascocita (Humble, Texas) on the night the school honored former Panther Dez Bryant. Senior quarterback Deauntre "Bush" Smiley
had two touchdowns both passing and rushing in the game.
The Woodlands had a week off to prepare for what could be only its second win against Lufkin since 2004. The Highlanders hope the extra rest will allow the return of standout running back Daniel Lasco
, a University of California recruit who missed the last four games with an ankle injury. Mitch Stephens:
Lufkin 35, The Woodlands 21Steve Montoya:
Lufkin 34, The Woodlands 27Stephen Spiewak:
Lufkin, 35, The Woodlands 24Kevin Askeland:
Lufkin 40, The Woodlands 20Jamie DeMoney:
The Woodlands 31, Lufkin 24MaxPreps Projection:
Lufkin 40, The Woodlands 21 Long Beach Poly (Calif.) at Lakewood (Calif.), FINAL LBP 27-14
A win here over undefeated Moore League rival Lakewood could help Long Beach Poly salvage a disappointing start to the season. The Jackrabbits are 3-2 and were beaten by 25 and 30 points, respectively, in games against fellow traditional powers St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) and Mission Viejo (Calif.). At least Poly's defense showed some signs of life in last week's 41-8 domination of Jordan (Long Beach, Calif.). Washington-committed defensive back Kameron Jackson
returned an interception for a touchdown.
Poly had won a state-record 80 consecutive league games and beat Lakewood every year since 1982 before the Lancers knocked off the Jackrabbits, 21-14, last season. They rode the momentum of that win to the Pac-5 semifinals and are one of the favorites for the division crown again this year. Senior quarterback Tyler Schultz
has been outstanding in his first year as a starter, completing 65 percent of his throws for 951 yards with 14 touchdowns and only one interception. Mitch Stephens:
Lakewood 21, Long Beach Poly 14Steve Montoya:
Lakewood 37, Long Beach Poly 28Stephen Spiewak:
Lakewood 28, Long Beach Poly 10Kevin Askeland:
Long Beach Poly 28, Lakewood 27Jamie DeMoney:
Lakewood 21, Poly 12MaxPreps Projection:
Lakewood 27, Long Beach Poly 10 Whitehall (Pa.) at Allentown Central Catholic (Pa.), Saturday
Whitehall improved to 5-0 when it scored 17 unanswered points to upset highly regarded Easton last week. The Zephyrs defense recorded six sacks and forced five fumbles in a 17-14 win. Senior quarterback Chris Polony
completed 13 of 20 passes for 182 yards and both Whitehall touchdowns.
Unlike their Lehigh Valley Conference opponent this week, Allentown Central Catholic was expected to be undefeated midway through the season. The Vikings are the No. 1 team in Class AAA, according to RodFrisco.com. They got a huge performance last week from standout junior Brendan Nosovitch
, who threw for 311 yards and ran for 152 in a thrilling 39-36 win against Nazareth. Mitch Stephens:
Allentown Central Catholic 20, Whitehall 14Steve Montoya:
Allentown Central Catholic 35, Whitehall 24Stephen Spiewak:
Allentown Central Catholic, 35, Whitehall 10Kevin Askeland:
Whitehall 28, Allentown Central Catholic 21Jamie DeMoney:
Allentown Central Catholic 31, Whitehall 28MaxPreps Projection:
Allentown Central Catholic 28, Whitehall 14 Catholic Central (Novi, Mich.) vs. Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Sunday
Catholic Central brings a 20-game winning streak into this Sunday afternoon rivalry game, which will be played for the 54th time in the last 50 years. The game matches a pair of coaches with more than 300 wins in Catholic Central's Tom Mach and Brother Rice's Al Fracassa. Catholic Central leads the series all-time with a record of 27-25-1 but had gone winless against the Warriors for several seasons before last year's 24-7 victory. The Shamrocks don't do anything fancy but play tremendous defense. Led by University of Buffalo-committed end Brandon Tammaro, they have allowed only 26 points in six games this season.
Brother Rice has won its last two games to even its record to 3-3 and stay in contention for the postseason. The Warriors appeared to have their early season kinks worked out during last week's 26-3 win against previously unbeaten St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.). Senior Jimmy Pickens
intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in the game and is also the team's leading rusher this season. Mitch Stephens:
Brother Rice 31, Catholic Central 28Steve Montoya:
Catholic Central 28, Brother Rice 7Stephen Spiewak:
Catholic Central 28, Brother Rice 10Kevin Askeland:
Catholic Central 40, Brother Rice 19Jamie DeMoney:
Brother Rice 23, Catholic Central 21MaxPreps Projection:
Catholic Central 22, Brother Rice 7 MaxPreps contributor Jamie DeMoney has covered high school sports and recruiting for more than 15 years. He is editor and founder of PrepNation.com. You can reach him at PrepNation@aol.com.