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November 25, 2010

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

We know, we know. It's Thanksgiving weekend. And that means a lot of reunions at the high school football field.

But while you're catching up with old friends, try to sneak a peak at the action on the field.

There's a lot of good games out there - many with big-time implications.

There's Goose Creek vs. Northwestern in South Carolina. This one may just be first one to 100 wins.

And Daphne vs. Davidson in Alabama. Yeah, Alabama - it has more than just Hoover.

Katy vs. North Shore has the potential to be a blast-from-the-past thriller in Texas.

And Bishop Gorman-Palo Verde in Nevada could be the precursor of a big rivalry to come.

So enjoy seeing some old friends. And enjoy some turkey afterward. In between, make sure you check out the action - it could just end up being the most exciting part of the day.

With that, an in-depth look around the nation at some of the top games of the weekend:

Weekend Watch
No. 10 Northwestern
vs. No. 32 Goose Creek


RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
NORTHWESTERN
QB Justin Worley (6-4/196, Sr.)
DE Roderick Byers (6-4/262, Sr.)
DT Gerald Dixon, Jr. (6-2, 246, Sr.)
GOOSE CREEK
OL Brandon Shell (6-7/290, Sr.)
TE James Robinson (6-4/220, Sr.)

When: Friday 11/26, 7:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: 8/28/09, Goose Creek won, 14-0.
Rankings: Northwestern (13-0), No. 1 in South Carolina
Goose Creek (13-0), No. 3 in South Carolina


WHY IT'S BIG: This is a final four matchup in a state on the rise. Both teams have played well and scored a lot of points this season. A showdown for a spot in the state title game should make for an epic battle. Northwestern has garnered many of the headlines this year, but Goose Creek has the firepower to stay with Northwestern and even sneak out a win.


BEST MATCHUP: Goose Creek secondary vs. Northwestern receivers. Neither group is nationally known but both will have a major impact in this game. Northwestern is a team that throws first, second and, well, always. Teams have tried everything to slow down the attack from zones, blitzes and plenty of mixed coverages. What it will ultimately come down to is whether or not Goose Creek can keep the receivers out of space.


GOOSE CREEK WINS IF: It dictates the pace of the game. The Gators like to control the ball on the ground; they have not had 100 passing attempts on the season. The team has three rushers over 700 yards and nearly five players with at least 500 yards. If the team can hold the ball and make the fast-paced Trojans stand on the sidelines watching, it could very well win this game.


NORTHWESTERN WINS IF: The team is able to force a few three-and-outs. Not many teams have come close to pushing around Goose Creek this year. That is what it will take to win this game for Northwestern. The team is hardened with a few tests this season, but it has yet to see the type of offensive attack it will on Friday. If the Trojans are pushed back onto their heels, it could be a long night.


PREDICTION: The two teams have split the last two games, with Goose Creek shutting out Northwestern to start the season last year. This year, the Trojans look to finish the season strong and this test will go a long way toward that. Northwestern opened 2009 with a 1-5 record, but has since won 21 of 22 games. This is another for the positive column. -Northwestern 32, Goose Creek 21

-- For more on both teams and South Carolina football, visit SCVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 43 Daphne
vs. No. 46 Davidson

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
DAPHNE
RB T.J. Yeldon (6-2/205, Jr.)
WR Israel Lamprakes (6-0/180, Sr.)
LB Michael Pierce (6-1/245, Sr.)
DAVIDSON
DE JaBrian Niles (6-2/270, Sr.)
WR Rashad Cunningham (6-4/200, Sr.)
DT Alphonse Taylor (6-6/330, Jr.)

When: Friday 11/26, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 9/27/09, Davidson won, 21-14
Rankings: Daphne (13-0), No. 2 in Alabama
Davidson (13-1), No. 3 in Alabama


WHY IT'S BIG: This is the semifinal game for the left side of the bracket in Alabama 6A. The winner of this game likely will be facing nationally-ranked Hoover. Any time a game can steal the regional spotlight from Miami Central-Miami Northwestern, it has to be huge. This game is. It is not loaded with Division I talent, but it is chalk full of solid football players and should be one fought to the end.


BEST MATCHUP: Davidson defense vs. Daphne offense. Davidson has allowed more points between the two this season. And Daphne has scored more points this season. The teams share five common opponents and game film should be easy to compare. Davidson has been in more battles and that could prove a difference with mental toughness being on its side. However, Daphne has been flying under the radar so much that it could effectively play the disrespect card for yet another week.


DAPHNE WINS IF: Its defense can put the clamps on Davidson. Daphne has not been receiving very many headlines locally, let alone nationally, but that does not mean this is not a quality team. The low-pressure situation should allow for this defense to play fast and free. If the defense is able to keep Davidson under 20 points, the offense may be able to get this team to victory.


DAVIDSON WINS IF: It lingers around long enough. Both teams are nationally ranked and very solid fundementally. But Daphne is more explosive and can score points in bunches. Davidson will need to frustrate and wear down its opponent to get the momentum and mental edge. It has been proven again and again that the mentally tougher team is the one that pulls out the victories in the end. That is what Davidson will need to do.


PREDICTION: Too many people have been discounting the ability of Daphne this season. Being told what you can not do has got to be getting old by now. Daphne is a team that can not only get to the semifinals, but it would not be a stunner if it won an Alabama 6A title next week as well. The final score will be closer than the action on the field. - Daphne 24, Davidson 14

Weekend Watch
No. 20 Wheaton Warrenville South
vs. Lake Zurich

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
LAKE ZURICH
LB JJ Raffelson (6-3/215, Sr.)
RB Jacob Brinlee (5-10/170, Sr.)
WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH
QB Reilly O'Toole (6-4/215, Sr.)
OL Luke Luhrsen (6-5/275, Sr.)
WR Titus Davis (6-2/180, Sr.)

When: Saturday 11/27, 4 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/24/07, Lake Zurich won, 7-3
Rankings: Wheaton Warrenville South (13-0), No. 1 in Illinois
Lake Zurich (12-1), No. 2 in Illinois


WHY IT'S BIG: The state final in Illinois Class 7A draws top billing in the Lakes region this week over state semifinals in Ohio. This is supposed to be the Year of the Tiger in Illinois as Wheaton Warrenville South has marched straight through opponents since the season kicked off. Lake Zurich was not expected to be in this spot come season's end, but the Bears sharpened their claws with wins over Simeon and St. Rita in the playoffs.


BEST MATCHUP: Lake Zurich defense vs. the offense of Wheaton Warrenville South. If Lake Zurich is going to pull the upset, it will need to do so on the strength of its defense. So far this year, no team has been able to slow the Tigers offense. The Bears will not be able to keep pace if the game gets into a track meet. Lake Zurich has yet to allow a team to score more than 24 points in a game this season. Of course, it has been held to less than that in eight contests.


LAKE ZURICH WINS IF: Everything goes its way. Sure, any team can beat any team on any day. But this season, teams which were expected to be better than Lake Zurich have been made to look a lot worse. Lake Zurich needs to have wet conditions, turnovers and friendly refs to steal this game. The team is too traditional to keep up with the fast-paced style of play that it will see Saturday.


WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH WINS IF: It plays its game. This is not the first time the Tigers have been highlighted in a Weekend Watch and each time it has been a broken record. This team is not a typical Illinois team. There is not a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust mentality here. It is more like "spread the field and lets get to passing." If the team is able to avoid multiple turnovers - like five - then it should easily win the state title again.


PREDICTION: From the first week of the season it was evident that this was the best team in Illinois. Baring something unforeseen happening, its coronation will be on Saturday afternoon. Look for back-to-back winners in the best class of Illinois football. - Wheaton Warrenville South 40, Lake Zurich 10

-- For more on both teams and Illinois football, visit EdgyTim.com

Weekend Watch
No. 9 Katy
vs. No. 63 North Shore

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
KATY
LB Grant Clifton (5-11/210, Sr.)
RB Donovonn Young (5-11/215, Sr.)
ATH Vernon Jeffries (5-7/175, Sr.)
NORTH SHORE
OL Sedrick Flowers (6-3/280, Sr.)
LB Derrick Mathers (6-0/190, Sr.)
QB Keenon Gibson(6-1/194, Sr.)
TE Chris Dever (6-2/225, Sr.)

When: Saturday 11/27, 1 p.m.
Last Meeting: 8/27/10, Katy won, 44-6
Rankings: Katy (12-0), No. 2 in Texas
North Shore (11-1), No. 6 in Texas


WHY IT'S BIG: Book the winner of this game at the state final - it is that big. The two teams are familiar foes and have already met this season (a lopsided Katy win), but they have a long history of close battles. Both teams are talented and well coached. With the rest of the draw not bringing much else to the table, this game is a defacto state semifinal game for Texas 5A DI.


BEST MATCHUP: The North Shore defensive line vs. the Katy rush game. The Tigers dominated the line of scimmage in the first game of the season, and if it is able to push around North Shore again, a result similar to the first game could be in the cards.


NORTH SHORE WINS IF: It can use the embarrassment from the first week of the season to fuel this week. The two teams usually play low-scoring games built on physical play. North Shore will need to get back to that. It is the team with more Division I talent on the field, but Katy is the team focused on the prize at the end. North Shore will need to come out ready to fight if it wants to win.


KATY WINS IF: The gameplan is executed. The framework is the same for Katy every year. As long as the parts cooperate, the success is a given. The running game and offensive line play will be the key on that side of the ball. The linebacking core will be called upon to stop the attack. If both of those things happen, Katy will be headed to the finals.


PREDICTION: It is our hope that this game is more like the past three seasons and not like the opening week of this season. If Katy is able to beat North Shore to the same tune it did in August, this may very well be the best team in Texas. North Shore has plenty to prove and winning this game will go a long way toward that. - Katy 23, North Shore 18

-- For more on both teams and Texas football, visit TheOldCoach.com

Weekend Watch
No. 46 Bishop Gorman
vs. No. 99 Palo Verde

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
BISHOP GORMAN
DE Jalen Grimble (6-4/255, Sr.)
DB Evan Zeger (6-2/200, Sr.)
RB Shaquille Powell (5-10/185, Jr.)
QB Jarrett Solomon (6-0/202, Soph.)
PALO VERDE
RB Brandon Wright (5-10/173, Sr.)
DE Chaisson Prescott (6-3/201, Sr.)
LB Demetrious Ballard (6-1/215, Sr.)

When: Saturday 11/27, 1 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/13/09, Bishop Gorman won, 38-28
Rankings: Bishop Gorman (11-2), No. 1 in Nevada Palo Verde (12-0), No. 2 in Nevada


WHY IT'S BIG: It's a state semifinal game between the two Nevada teams that have been ranked all season. The spot for the No. 2 position in Nevada has been hotly contested (by the two teams playing in the other semifinal) but this could be a defacto state final game. The two teams have a contrasting style of play and it should be an interesting go.


BEST MATCHUP: Bishop Gorman defensive line vs. the Palo Verde run game. Bishop Gorman has one of the better defensive lines in the country, but it was worn down by both Hamilton and De La Salle in early season games. If it has not toughened up to this point, Palo Verde could make a major step in national respect.


BISHOP GORMAN WINS IF: Its offense puts up 24 points or more. Palo Verde is a run-first, defense-second team. If Gorman is able to make this game high-scoring, it will play directly into the hands of the Gaels. Gorman is a team is looking to keep its winning tradition going and it has plenty of Division I talent from its seniors to sophomores to make that happen.


PALO VERDE WINS IF: The linbackers carry the defense. The Panthers game is built around physical play from the middle of its defense and those guys will need to flow to the ball and make tackles. If the defense allows Gorman too many yards after contact it will pay dearly. The offensive line will be the second unit to circle. If it is not able to protect the quarterback or open holes, the game will not get going.


PREDICTION: Despite the two losses to out-of-state teams, Bishop Gorman remained the top team in Nevada this year and has steamrolled its competition. The next two weeks will provide the best tests for the Gaels in over a month. The Gaels, which were supposed to be further down, still have a good team and could be exceptional next year. The 2010 season will still end with a state title. - Bishop Gorman 30, Palo Verde 16

-- For more on both teams and Nevada football, visit NevadaPrepReport.com

Weekend Watch
Other Predictions (2010: 94-36)
Game of the Week: Phillipsburg (N.J.) def. Easton (Pa.), 30-23
No. 24 Davidson def. No. 80 Wayne, 20-16
No. 27 Miami Central def. No. 60 Northwestern, 30-18
No. 52 East Grand Rapids def. Orchard Lake St. Marys, 25-22 (state finals)
No. 65 Harrison def. Lowell, 17-10 (state finals) *E-Mail request*
No. 67 Rockhurst def. No. 100 Hazelwood Central, 20-18 (state finals) *E-mail request*
Have your game picked next week: E-mail Dallas Jackson
Game of the Week record: 9-5
2010 Record for all games picked: 103-41



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