This may technically be the next-to-last weekend of high school football (Texas wraps up on Dec. 22), but California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania all wrap up this weekend. Not to mention, the semifinals this weekend in Texas will be every bit as exciting as the state finals.
As Friday approaches, MaxPreps looks at 12 major storylines to keep an eye on this weekend.1. Will Norcross get it done?
With victories over North Gwinnett, Colquitt County, and Camden County, Norcross (Ga.)
has slayed more than its fair share of traditional state powers en route to a 14-0 record and a No. 8 ranking in the Xcellent 25
. If it can close out its season with a victory over Lovejoy and a AAAAAA title, it will likely finish even higher.2. De La Salle vs. Centennial, Round III
No two teams share a CIF Bowl Game history like De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
and Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
, which have split two previous California Bowl Game encounters. De La Salle has a mental edge over many of its opponents. Centennial, which is perhaps the top program in Southern California, will not be so intimidated.
3. Will Clairton keep winning?
The owner of the nation's longest winning streak (62 games), Clairton (Pa.)
shows no signs of slowing down, rolling to a 44-12 victory over Port Allegany in the Class A semifinals. It is favored over Dunmore and is expected to carry a 63-game winning streak into 2013, where it will need to reload without star senior Tyler Boyd
.4. Can DeSoto seal the deal?
DeSoto, the nation's new No. 1 team, is the favorite to take home the Class 5A-I crown after a thrilling victory over Southlake Carroll in the regional final
. Its opponent, Allen, is certainly formidable, as it enters the game with a No. 19 national ranking. If it clears that hurdle this weekend, the Eagles will likely be able to taste their first state title.5. Does Aquinas get back on top?
In 2011, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
endured an uncharacteristic three-loss season. Earlier this fall, it was stunned by upset losses to Don Bosco Prep and Miramar. Now, after turning the tables on Manatee with a surprisingly easy 35-18 victory over the nation's former No. 1 team, Aquinas has a chance to capture its seventh state title.6. Who finishes No. 1?
With DeSoto (No. 1), Katy (Texas)
(No. 3) and De La Salle (No. 5) all in action this weekend, we could start to see a clear picture shaping up as to how the Xcellent 25 national rankings will unfold. Conversely, all three could beat good opponents decisively, leaving more questions than answers.7. Can Archbishop Wood repeat?
Last year's Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
squad seemed destined for greatness. After walloping Allentown Central Catholic 70-14 in the AAA semifinals, it shut out Bishop McDevitt 52-0 in the title game. The offseason saw the departure of Brandon Peoples, Desmon Peoples, and a host of other seniors. However, coach Steve Devlin has retooled. With freshman quarterback Tom Garlick
at the helm, the team has a shot to repeat as the state champion.8. Can anyone stop DeShaun Watson?
A leading candidate for National Junior of the Year honors, DeShaun Watson
has been nothing short of sensational for Gainesville (Ga.)
. The Clemson commit has accounted for a combined 5,063 yards and 69 touchdowns rushing and passing. Ware County will certainly have its hands full.
9. Welcome, Jefferson
The small school classifications of the Georgia playoffs feature two of the most consistent programs in the country: Buford (Ga.)
, which has been to the state finals each of the last six years, and Calhoun (Ga.)
, which has been to the state finals each of the previous five seasons. The teams were accustomed to meeting each other in the Class AA state finals but with the state expanding to six classes and Buford moving to AAA, Jefferson has a shot at the AA crown, which would be the school's first state title since it opened in 1947.10. NorCal vs. SoCal
In the early parts of the CIF Bowl Games history, teams representing Southern California were dominant. NorCal has certainly held its own in recent years, though. De La Salle enters its game against Centennial as the favorite, while the Freeman Rankings project Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
and Central Catholic (Modesto, Calif.)
to come out on top as well. That would be three out of five games, and bragging rights for the north.11. So long, Lad?
There are whispers that De La Salle legend Bob Ladouceur could be stepping down in the near future. Could it happen after a win (or loss) against Centennial? Ladoueceur has headed arguably the nation's premier program since 1979. However, the grind has definitely taken its toll
.12. The Alex Anzalone show
Perhaps no player left in the playoffs means more to his team than Alex Anzalone
, the defensive leader and offensive workhorse for Wyomissing (Pa.)
, which plays for a Class AA state title against Aliquippa (Pa.)
. Anzalone is a load to bring down at running back. At linebacker, he's extremely disruptive and needs to be accounted for on each play.