MICDS (9-2) @ Ladue (9-2) [Kirkwood]
A rematch of last seasons thriller.
Ladue is coming in with a dominating 63-0 victory over Gateway STEM in a game where they scored four times on their first six plays. MICDS defeated St. Mary's 58-37 where they scored four touchdowns on special teams and defense.
The Rams of Ladue were hampered by the preseason injuries to First Team all-staters, Jordan Jackson (QB/ATH) and Jaylon Sykes (OL/DT). After Week One they lost another big linemen, Jaliil Swope for five weeks. Still, they faced adversity and managed to spit it in the face. They defeated SLUH on the road 24-14 but would blow a 21-0 lead and lose 28-21 to Webster Groves. However, Jordan and Jaylon returned against Parkway Central in Week Four, and it’s been downhill ever since. A 7-0 record, including the first team defense not allowing a single point in the second half of games. Overall they’ve surrendered 29 points in those seven games and as a whole 13 per game. Ladue loves to give the rock Andrew Hunt and sometimes Kalan Lang and Cameron Meeks because the offensive builds a solid wall that President Trump would be proud of. However, Jackson has a solid arm with speedster Dale Chesson and company to throw to.
This may not be a weakness, but I will point this out: Ladue’s first-stringers hadn't played a full four quarters since Week Six against Parkway West when they won 43-7. I’ve personally seen teams who haven’t played a full game in quite awhile struggle, especially in the playoffs.
MICDS has weapons and know how to win games or come alive in the fourth quarter. Five times this season they’ve either been tied or trailed at some point in the fourth quarter and managed to win:
The one time it didn’t work out was in Week Two currently undefeated Park Hills Central when the Rams committed a safety with under a minute to play.
Graham Bundy Jr. has speedsters, Preston Buchanan, Austin Thompson, Ryan Thompson, and Jason Sugavanam in his arsenal of weapons at quarterback as well as Tyler Purdy at running back. Bundy Jr. is also elusive and leads the team in rushing touchdowns. The weakness I’ve seen this team has is their line play. I’ve seen them three times, but two of them were against Lutheran North and Hillsboro, and for most of the game their opponents enjoyed more of the ground game.
Now, I figure this to be a good, relatively close ball game because you have to be very good to blow both of these teams out. Having said that I’m going with the Blue Rams. Why? That’s where MICDS’ weakness comes in which is Ladue’s strength, and that is line play. Several times this season I’ve seen Ladue control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line has four two-year starters, and with Jackson and Hunt in the backfield who will provide breakaway speed, I think that’ll be too much for MICDS to stop. On the flipside, MICDS are a primarily running team and that works to Ladue’s advantage as well. Two times they’ve allowed more than 200 yards rushing, and that was to Fort Zumwalt North and SLUH, their first two games. It'll be difficult to move past a line with Meeks, Sykes, Moses Okpala, and Lincoln Grench for MICDS. Since then they’ve held opponents under 100 yards per game on average. I still expect MICDS to hang around and who knows, they can force some turnovers like last year.
Parkway Central (10-1) @ Riverview Gardens (8-3)
It’s safe to say in the preseason I expected one team to be here and the other to not.
Riverview Gardens certainly has surprised the St. Louis area this season with what they have accomplished. The Rams 26-6 victory over Hazelwood East looks impressive now, and then they really made people stand up and take notice with 37-30 loss to Hazelwood Central. A game in which the Rams controlled for the majority of the game.
They have two players that light up the stat sheets: Lawrence Johnson and Davion Evers.
A quarterback, Johnson has thrown for 1,463 yards with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s completed 74-of-113 (65%) passes. On the ground he’s rushed for 1,652 yards on 119 carries with 22 touchdowns. Overall that's 3,115 yards and 42 touchdowns. Let that sink in. Evers, a running back has tallied 939 yards on the ground on 85 carries with nine touchdowns. However, he’s also a big target for Johnson threw the air. He’s caught 30 passes for 716 yards and 11 touchdowns. Defensively the Rams have given up their fair share of points, but they do get to opposing quarterbacks. Officially they’ve been marked down for a total of 45 sacks. Stephan Harris and Maurice Hall each have ten.
It’s a bit of a miracle that Riverview made it to the district championship because they were losing to Fort Zumwalt East by as many as 27-0 and 33-14 at halftime. The Rams reeled off 20 straight points to the take the lead back early in the fourth quarter and then needed a Johnson 15-yard rushing touchdown, plus two-point conversion to win 42-41.
It’s been payback season for the Parkway Central Colts.
A year ago they fell to rivals Parkway North twice at the start of the season and then in the playoffs. This year they repaid the favor beating the Vikings 42-7 (20-7 in Week One) in the semifinals. More good news is the return of running back Jayden Mitchell who missed most of the season due to an injury. His running mate, Noah Wittner filled in nicely with just over 1,000 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for the season. Those two should form a nice duo. However, it’s been the passing game that has made the headlines this year.
The senior quarterback, Patrick Dill, a first-year starting quarterback has thrown 1,358 yards with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. His 21 touchdowns broke the single-season school record, which was held by Central great Isaac Byrd. Besides being on the money 62% of the time, Dill has some of the best receivers to aim at in the state. Arthur Green, an Arkansas State commit has 26 passes for 511 yards and eight touchdowns. DeAndre Campbell has hauled in 29 receptions for 463 yards and 11 scores. Jayden Littlejohn is another key player with 20 receptions and 216 yards with a touchdown.
Since allowing a season-high 36 points in a 36-23 loss to Ladue, the Colts have only allowed as high as 14 points to Francis Howell Central. That’s an average of ten points per game. The offense does bend but hardly breaks.
Both teams will undoubtedly test each other. Central hasn’t seen a dual-threat quarterback quite like Johnson all season long, and that is a reason for concern. Although Johnson and Evers are quite tough to handle, Central does have a strong defense filled with athletes that can stay with them. Riverview will be tested once again on defense, and that’s where I think Central should have some fun because they spread things out, while a run to Mitchell or Wittner can keep the Rams honest. Riverview will be at home and here’s a catch: The Colts haven’t played a Saturday afternoon game all season long, but will have to this time. That could potentially play a factor. Then again the Colts have a very experienced senior class that will not want to go out this early and have been groomed since middle school to be the next great hope.
Parkway Central: +8