District 2: Miller Career (8-3) @ Lutheran South (7-3)
This has been a long time coming for the Lutheran South football program. It’s been so long (no I didn’t have time to look it up) since the Lancers have been to a district final, albeit this far in the playoffs. On the other hand, Miller Career was here last season and went as far as the semi-finals.
Both teams have decent pedigrees.
The Phoenix have played CBC (28-69), West Hancock (6-44), and Hogan Prep (8-25). All, except Hogan Prep, are still going and their combined records are 30-2. Miller Career simply learned from these defeats and here they are now. Lutheran South’s losses have come to Soldan (20-19), MICDS (18-13), and Lutheran North (50-12). They may tell you that the Soldan and MICDS losses should’ve been wins, but now they’ll take them as learning experiences.
The Lancers have an explosive offense when they’re playing near their potential. Quarterback Vito Orlando has thrown 2,026 yards with 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and completed 63% of his passes. Four-year starting running back has played through injuries early in the season but still has managed 1,338 yards and 18 touchdowns. One player that’s had a breakout season is R.J. Benkelman. The senior has caught 34 passes for 721 yards and ten touchdowns. KeShon Spraggins, Darrick Scott, and Isaiah Wilson each have over 300 yards and five touchdowns.
The Phoenix doesn't boast as heavy an offense as the Lancers and prefers to run more than pass, but they have tricky, athletic players. Quarterback Devin Jackson has thrown 1,304 yards with 13 touchdowns and ten interceptions. His favorite target is Antoine Garrett, who’s reeled in 17 catches with eight touchdowns. Running back Titus Baker has rushed for 1,394 yards, and 13 touchdowns and Deon Parlow and Garrett Burton each have over 300 rushing yards.
Miller Career does have an edge when it comes to defense. They’ve allowed an average of 17 points per game, and if you take out CBC, Hogan Prep, and West Hancock, then it falls to seven.
It appears that Lutheran South is healthy and indeed are putting up plenty of points. When I see that Miller Career beat a very banged up John Burroughs team 22-18, while the Lancers won 33-8 that gives more leeway to Lutheran South. That’s hardly important though. Miller Career hasn’t faced a diverse offense like the Lancers have since possibly Week Six against Hogan Prep. However, the Lancers aren’t the toughest defense they’ll have seen, but they can do enough to limit the Phoenix offense. I know that Lutheran South is poised to take the next step for their program and win a district championship with Schrader and Spraggins the two four-year starters.
Lutheran South: +6
District 5: St. Charles West (6-5) @ McCluer South-Berkeley (9-0)
What we have here is a battle of two experienced group of teams and a rematch of last years district championship.
The Warriors are trying to win their first district championship since 2014 when they went all the way to the semifinals, while the Bulldogs will try and go one game further than their semifinal berth a year ago. Berkeley outlasted West 12-7 in a ground and pounded slugfest.
The strength of schedule advantage goes to St. Charles West because they’ve played five schools that are a class above them, including MICDS, Cape Central, and Borgia who are all playing for district title games themselves. Berkeley has played seven games, and two of those teams finished the regular season with winning. However, all of that hardly matters because playoff games are all about how both teams matchup against each other.
Berkeley can torch teams threw the air or methodically move the ball on the ground as they did to Orchard Farm last week. Quarterback Tavian Willis has thrown for 1,442 yards with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. Oh, by the way, he’s completed 88-of-129 (68%) passes. He also leads the team in rushing yards with 488 yards and seven touchdowns. Something tells me that if you take away Willis, then the Bulldogs are a little bit easier to beat, but they got weapons and plenty of them. Kameron Cole, Tivon Thomas, and Daishawn Cotton have all rushed for over 300 yards and combined for 12 touchdowns. Cole averages 9.5 yards per carry. Daveon Trust has caught 17 passes for 491 yards and had eight touchdowns. Devon Blanchard and Cotton each have over 200 yards receiving.
West, on the other hand, run the early and often. Darius Morrison is a load to bring down at six-foot, two inches because he’s quick. Morrison has rushed for 1,137 yards on 140 carries with 18 touchdowns and averages 8.1 yards per carry. Brandon Carbray comes next with 781 yards on 107 carries and nine touchdowns. Fullback Matt Frazer has rushed for 319 yards on 58 carries with five touchdowns.
The Warriors game plan could smoothly go like this: Take our time on offense, win the time of possession, and eat up the clock. Based on last week’s results this is a favorable matchup for West because the Bulldogs ran 40 run plays. They still gained 251 yards, but there’s a good chance the Warriors won’t give up as much. However, West can’t let Berkeley go up by two scores because then they’ll have to speed things up on offense and get out of their supposed game plan that I’m predicting. Then again, the Bulldogs have a good enough line as well, and perhaps they can move the ball through the air and mix it up on the ground.
McCluer South-Berkeley: +6