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October 28, 2010

Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs?

We can this week as the Great Lakes region's top matchup features Carmel vs. Fishers in a second-round game that will give the winner the inside track to an Indiana state title.

And though other states aren't quite at their point in the season, there are still some serious games.

Such as in South Carolina, where Dorman and Byrnes get it on. The two may very well meet again, but neither side takes any matchup with the other lightly.

Or head over to Alabama, where Bob Jones is out to show Hoover it has company in the group of elite teams in the state.

Then there's Texas, where Abilene and Cooper have a border battle. And Southern California, where Centennial and Norco get together in a not-so-friendly rivalry.

Playoffs? Yeah, we've got a few playoff games this week - but many more that just have playoff atmosphere.

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

Weekend Watch
No. 12 Dorman vs. Byrnes

QB Zach Blair (6-4/201, Sr.)
LB Andre Brewton (6-3/184, Sr.)
RB Shakeem Wharton (5-10/190, Jr.)
WR Charone Peake (6-3/200, Sr.)
WR Adam Humphries (5-11/176, Sr.)
OL Patrick Destefano (6-4/275, Jr.)

When: Friday 10/29, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 12/05/09, Dorman won, 28-17
Rankings: Dorman (9-0), No. 2 in South Carolina
Byrnes (7-2), No. 8 in South Carolina

WHY IT'S BIG: This is one of the biggest games every year in South Carolina. These two schools do not like each other. Truth be told, these two teams do not even like seeing the other's team colors. Both are usual suspects for winning a state title and are players in the national rankings. Byrnes has been the flag bearer for the state in recent years, but Dorman (which won the state title last year) is eager to supplant the Rebels in the top spot.

BEST MATCHUP: The Dorman offense against the Byrnes defense. The Cavaliers have been struggling to get their offense going this season and have looked downright flat at times. The Byrnes defense always is one of the strongest units each year. The Rebels have been coming together of late, but that may because of the level of competition it has faced. This will be a great test for both teams.

DORMAN WINS IF: It can hit on a few surprise plays. The Cavalier offense has been very vanilla much of the season and it will need to open the playbook a little this week to get by. While this is not the state final, it is a big game for the bottom line of the Cavalier season.

BYRNES WINS IF: The offense really has come together. The team should be flying high with confidence offensively, but recent opponents Hillcrest and Mann are not Dorman. This game likely will be more akin to the Hoover game than the last three weeks. Whether the team truly has come together will be found out early.

PREDICTION: This is not a must-win game for either team as both will make it into the playoffs. But it certainly is a game both want to win; that energy will be palpable come game time. The Cavaliers are on a mission this season and this battle with Byrnes is part of that march. Look for the defense of Dorman to be suffocating in a low-scoring game. - Dorman 16, Byrnes 10

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

Weekend Watch
No. 6 Hoover vs. Bob Jones

WR Collins Moore (6-2/185, Sr.)
DT Seth Thomas (6-2/265, Sr.)
TE Reggie Ragland (6-4/245, Jr.)
WR Caleb Sims (5-10/175, Jr.)
WR Jaylon Denson (6-3/190, Sr.)
QB Ryan Carter (6-2/180, Sr.)
RB Justin McArthur (5-8/175, Sr.)
DT Max Elliott (6-4/275, Sr.)

When: Friday 10/29, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/20/09, Hoover won, 34-24
Rankings: Hoover (9-0), No. 1 in Alabama
Bob Jones (9-2), No. 6 in Alabama

WHY IT'S BIG: Bob Jones was circled as a team on the rise this season. Hoover has been the team to beat in Alabama for the last five years, if not longer. For Bob Jones to take the next step, it will need to get over on Hoover. For the Bucs, the tough schedule continues. Playing one of the most demanding schedules in the country continues this weekend on the road.

BEST MATCHUP: The Bob Jones passing game against the Hoover secondary. Hoover is a very complete team; it is nitpicking to say that the secondary is the weakness. But if there is a point to attack Hoover, it is with double moves and on the deep ball. The Patriots have scored a lot of points this year through the air; if it is to be successful, it will need to attack.

HOOVER WINS IF: The offensive line can control the game. Bob Jones has given up a lot of points this season. If Hoover can punch Bob Jones in the mouth early, it may be enough to shake the Patriots confidence. Running the ball and being balanced is the calling card of the Bucs and that starts up front.

BOB JONES WINS IF: It can take away the ground game of Hoover. Hoover has had struggles getting going at points this season. If the Patriots can shut down the run game and make the Bucs go to the air more often, it will play into the Patriots hands.

PREDICTION: Even if Bob Jones can shut down the traditional offense of the Bucs, Hoover is able to slide Caleb Sims to the quarterback position and effectively run the Wildcat offense. That style of play has sparked Hoover at times this season and could do it again this Friday. Hoover knows that this is a special season and is working hard to close the deal. Bob Jones will not go quietly. - Hoover 34, Bob Jones 26

Weekend Watch
No. 88 Carmel vs. Fishers

RB Devin Brinson (6-0/190, Sr.)
DB Jimmy Herman (6-3/195, Jr.)
QB Koby Orris (6-5/165, Sr.)
DB Brian Sutton (5-10/161, Sr.)
WR Alphonso Hines (6-2/180, Sr.)

When: Friday 10/29, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 10/30/09, Carmel won, 7-0
Rankings: Carmel (10-1), No. 1 in Indiana
Fishers (9-1), No. 7 in Indiana

WHY IT'S BIG: This is a second-round playoff game in Indiana but it could be the game that determines the state championship game in the state with Warren Central and Center Grove both eliminated from contention last week. The winner of this game is likely going to at least make the semifinals in the state if not the final.

BEST MATCHUP: Carmel's defensive line against the dual-threat attack of Fishers quarterback Koby Orris. Orris can throw or run if need be. The Carmel defensive line will need to mind its lanes and not get pushed outside or squeezed inside. Orris will make plays.

CARMEL WINS IF: It can establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Fishers will not be intimidated by Carmel simply getting off the bus. Carmel will need to come ready for a fight. Getting its running game going and keeping Fishers off the field will be key. A low-scoring game will favor Carmel and that will begin with the big guys in the trenches.

FISHERS WINS IF: It has more big plays. Neither team is especially explosive, but if Fishers can hit a big one just to loosen up the defense, it could go a long way in this game. Carmel will try to slow the game down and keep more guys in the box to prevent the broken plays from becoming big plays. It could come down to a good bounce.

PREDICTION: The state of Indiana was poised to have a breakout year nationally but has come off of that with the stunning results last weekend. Carmel can still make a run at a state title and national rankings. There will be more challenges on the road, but getting by Fishers will toughen it up for those tests. - Carmel 19, Fishers 14

-- For more on both teams and Indiana football, visit HickoryHusker.com

Weekend Watch
No. 60 Abilene vs. Cooper

RB Herschel Sims (5-10/190, Sr.)
ATH Ronnell Sims (5-8/165, Sr.)
WR Darius Joseph (6-0/175, Sr.)
RB Davon Riddick (6-0/180, Sr.)
RB Alford Cooper (5-10/180, Sr.)
QB Clayton Nicholas (6-2/180, Soph.)

When: Friday 10/29, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 9/11/09, Abilene won, 49-37
Rankings: Abilene (6-2), No. 8 in Texas
Cooper (8-0), No. 15 in Texas

WHY IT'S BIG: This is a cross-town battle inside the Little Southwest Conference. The two teams share a border so this is an intense game. Abilene, despite its two losses, still is ranked ahead of undefeated Cooper, so a disrespect card will certainly be played.

BEST MATCHUP: Abilene's Sims-squared against Cooper's three-pronged attack. This game could be very high scoring if neither defense is able to put a lock on the other's offense. The Eagles have shown to be a much better team with a healthy Herschel Sims. But the Cougars are no strangers to lighting up the scoreboard. This one should be fun.

COOPER WINS IF: It has the ball last. It could be that simple. Both teams can play defense but neither has seen an offense as explosive as it will this week. Cooper has not been held below 30 points the entire season and there is no need to think that trend will stop this week.

ABILENE WINS IF: Its defense comes to the party. The Eagles have allowed more than 20 points in all but two games, and those two games were stopped at 17 and 18 points. None of those teams, even out-of-state foes Plant and Cocoa, have had the type of firepower that Cooper does. Expecting to keep this game in the 20s may be foolish but if Abilene can, that would ensure victory.

PREDICTION: If you like high school football and are anywhere near Abilene, this is a game to watch. It should be a track meet and a lot of big plays will be filling the stat sheet. Turnovers could be at a minimum and defensive stops will be at a premium. If one team can make two straight defensive stops, that may give it a margin that will not be overcome. - Abilene 49, Cooper 44

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

Weekend Watch
No. 27 Centennial vs. Norco

RB Kelsey Young (5-11/192, Sr.)
OL Brent Walker (6-5/300, Sr.)
LB Scott Starr (6-3/210, Jr.)
QB Michael Eubank (6-5/232, Sr.)
RB Dion Bass (5-9/185, Sr.)
WR Larry Scott (6-1/170, Sr.)

When: Friday 10/29, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/06/09, Norco won, 29-28
Rankings: Centennial (7-0), No. 4 in California
Norco (6-1), No. 16 in California

WHY IT'S BIG: Corona Centennial is in a tough spot in California. It is undefeated and nationally ranked. But even if it finishes with an undefeated season, it is not guaranteed a selection into one of the CIF Bowl games at the end of the season. This is also a revenge game for the Huskies as the team lost to Norco, 29-28, at home last season. A make-good win here likely would boost the stock of Centennial. If Norco wins again, it likely would gain entrance into the RivalsHigh 100 with wins over Crenshaw, Upland and Centennial.

BEST MATCHUP: The Norco defense against the Centennial offense. Centennial has put up more than 44 in every game this season. Norco has only scored that much twice. The Cougars defense will need to keep Centennial on the sideline with sustained drives as well as make a few big stops on defense.

NORCO WINS IF: It can keep the clock moving. Running the ball and completing short passes will make the game go faster, which is what Norco needs to do to pull the upset. Centennial is a loaded team and will have the talent edge, but Norco can play with anyone and will not back down from the challenge. However, it will need to play nearly perfect in this one.

CENTENNIAL WINS IF: It can get off and running early. The team has plenty of playmakers and will be in a hostile environment. If it can match the intensity early and let the game ease in, it should be able to take its talent advantage to the victory.

PREDICTION: Centennial needs this game more than Norco does and should play like it. - Centennial 46, Norco 27

-- For more on both teams and Southern California football, visit CaliforniaPreps.com

Weekend Watch
Other Predictions (2010: 63-27)
Game of the Week:No. 75 Franklinton (La.) High def. No. 42 Slidell (La.) Salmen, 24-16
No. 11 Northwestern def. Gaffney, 34-26
No. 16 Hamilton def. Red Mountain, 34-6
No. 25 Miami Central def. Prattville, 40-16 *E-mail request*
No. 34 Servite def. Mater Dei, 26-21 *E-Mail request*
Skyline def. No. 94 Bothell, 28-20 *E-mail request*
Have your game picked next week: E-mail Dallas Jackson
Game of the Week record: 6-4
2010 Record for all games picked: 69-31

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