I finally have time to write one of these ;)
The playoffs are in full swing, and it’s been a heck of a season in the St. Louis area.
District 1: Lindbergh (10-1) @ Eureka (11-0)
You ruined our perfect season, prepare to die.
A rematch of the hyped Week Eight game between the two schools, the Wildcats showed the up and coming Flyers that they would not step aside and allow them to happily march on with a 0 at the end of their record. Instead, they slammed the door on their hand with a 41-10 demolishing of Lindbergh. However, the Flyers have returned with a vengeance in epic proportions.
Lindbergh outgained Kirkwood 320 to 194 and took out the reigning state champs, Kirkwood. However, it came down to a final drive and a last second 35-yard field goal by Garrett Butz to win 16-14. For Eureka, they had to get through another feisty match by rivals Lafayette 14-12.
The Wildcats are perfect for a reason: Solid defense, solid offensive line, and Hassan Haskins. The o-line has paved the way for Haskins to run for 1,901 yards on 202 carries and 29 touchdowns, 9.4 yards per carry. He’s averaging 172 yards per game and has rushed for over 200 yards four times. Overall he’s obtained 2,066 total yards and 31 touchdowns. It’s helped lead to an offer from the University of Michigan, and a week ago Haskins committed to being a Wolverine.
Eureka’s defense is arguably the best in the area, given their numbers and the teams they’ve played. Five of their nine opponents finished the regular season with winning records, while Pattonville and Lindbergh are still playing. The most points the Wildcats have allowed was 26 in their first game against Fort Zumwalt West. They’ve shut out three teams and have given up an average of nine points per game.
It’s been a dream season for the Flyers.
They’ve won more games this season than the last three combined. Head coach Nathan Norman is in the midst of his second season, and he and his staff have clearly done an excellent job of setting up a culture and getting the best out of his players. They pulled an upset over Hazelwood Central in Week Three, 43-26 and then outlasted Lafayette 42-35. Two weeks later in a battle of the undefeated, the Flyers beat Ritenour 46-42 in one of the best games of the year. The win over Kirkwood has added to the list of memorable victories the Flyers have pulled, and a win over Eureka would be mean the world to the program.
They boast arguably the best receiving duo in the state with SIU-Carbondale commit, Rico Payton, and David Grenia, who has received two offers during the season, including from Lindenwood. Payton has caught 38 passes for 778 yards. Grenia has hauled in 48 catches and is second in the area with 1,176 yards, plus he’s scored 16 times. Additionally, Payton has rushed for 789 yards and had a total of 1,567 yards and 27 touchdowns. Most of those yards come from quarterback Parker Powell who has thrown for 2,335 yards (4th in the area) with 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
I don’t see Eureka beating Lindbergh by 31 points again, not even close to that because it’s so hard to beat a competitive team twice in one season. Lindbergh will have made adjustments, plus they now know how to win big games down the stretch in the playoffs over good teams. Still, Eureka is at home, they’ve been here before, and Hassan Haskins is running wild. The Flyers still need to put up plenty of points against the Wildcats stout defense.
District 2: Hazelwood Central (10-1) @ CBC (10-1)
It’s almost like this fixture is bound to happen every year, except this time it’s at CBC.
The Cadets had perhaps the toughest offseason for anyone regarding losing a key player for each side of the ball. We didn’t get to see Kamryn Babb play in his final high school season nor M.J. Anderson (he’ll be back next year) who are both exceptional players, however with CBC going
10-1 shows how much talent and spirit they have.
They’re undefeated against Missouri schools despite a loss to Memphis (Christian Brothers) fittingly named. The only team that’s given the Cadets a decent amount of trouble was Vianney in Week Nine. The Cadets were down 28-14 but scored four unanswered touchdowns. So far the offense has averaged 44 points per game with quarterback Brett Babbert commanding the offense. Once again the junior has put up some of the best numbers in the state with 2,214 yards, 29 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He’s completed 150-of-213 for an astounding 70% completion rating. His favorite targets, Cameron Brown and Tyler Walton have stepped up big time this season. Brown has snagged 54 catches with 820 yards and 13 touchdowns while Walton has caught 44 passes for 805 yards and seven scores. Running back Bryan Bradford has quietly put in a splendid season; he’s rushed for 1,107 yards on 122 carries with 19 touchdowns.
Hazelwood Central has had their season ended by CBC four times this decade, including the past three years. I can only assume that Dallas Craddieth, Raphael Bell, and the rest of the 2018 class are utterly sick of the Cadets, and probably wondering why does MSHSSA keep pairing them with CBC. These seniors have enjoyed a 41-5 record in their time at Central and three of them have been to the Cadets. Think about it.
The Hawks should be prepared for this one as they have battled through some tough games this season. That loss to Lindbergh may have brought them back down to earth. In fact, that was the first time Central had lost to a team other than CBC since Eureka defeated them in Week Three of 2015. If you want to go further back, it was the first time they had suffered a double-digit loss in the regular season since a 21-0 loss to De Smet back in 2012. The Hawks have played in a couple of late-season thrillers. They defeated Pattonville 33-27 in overtime and went on to beat Riverview Gardens 37-30 in Week Nine.
The Hawks primary form of attack is their run game. Raphael Bell has rushed for 1,260 yards on 170 attempts with 21 touchdowns behind a big offensive line that will give CBC’s defensive line fits. He’s gained 1,401 total yards and 24 touchdowns. Quarterback John Harrison Jr. has rushed for 395 yards and scored seven times. Threw the air, Harrison has thrown for 1,334 yards with 11 touchdowns and ten interceptions.
CBC has a great offense that keeps every defense honest with the receivers they have and Bradford at running back. However, Central may be the toughest secondary they will have yet to face with highly talented D1 recruit Craddieth defending Brown, which will be a tremendous 1-on-1 matchup. Reggie Certain Jr. and James Whitfield will make life difficult as well. Ultimately, CBC is at home, inform, and Central will have to be on their A-game to win.