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November 4, 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.

There is the pursuit of the playoffs ... and of a state title.

And then there's the pursuit of perfection.

This time of year, when the games get a little tougher and a lot more meaningful, it's always fun to find the teams that have managed to stay unbeaten through the first two months of the year.

Now comes the hard part.

Six of the ten teams in our Weekend Watch have yet to suffer a setback. We know at least one will - as unbeatens Peach County and Baldwin go at it in a Georgia game. The other four (Great Bridge, Colerain, Bentonville and Westlake) will all have their hands full.

Only one - Colerain's battle with Hamilton - is a win-or-go-home playoff battle, but all figure to have a special (OK, we'll call it perfect) atmosphere.

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

Weekend Watch
No. 59 Oscar Smith
vs. Great Bridge


RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
OSCAR SMITH
WR Quinta Funderburk (6-5/204, Sr.)
DB Jaston George (5-10/161, Sr.)
LB Raysean Richardson (6-1/189, Sr.)
QB Jaylian Williamson (5-10/165, Jr.)
GREAT BRIDGE
QB Brad Hudson (6-3/190, Sr.)
DB Marc Meier (5-11/171, Sr.)
LB Luke Black (6-1/195, Sr.)

When: Friday 11/5, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/6/09, Oscar Smith won, 47-17
Rankings: Oscar Smith (8-1), No. 2 in Virginia
Great Bridge (9-0), No. 13 in Virginia


WHY IT'S BIG: Both teams will be making the playoffs in Virginia but only one will be the Southeastern league champion. Both teams enter the game undefeated in state play and with relatively similar point differential. Oscar Smith has the hype and soon it will be found if it has the substance.


BEST MATCHUP: Great Bridge defensive back Marc Meier against Smith wide receiver Quinta Funderburk. Oscar Smith QB Jaylian Williamson loves to throw the ball; Funderburk, his favorite target, has been nearly unstoppable. Great Bridge defense has given up its share of points this season, and if it wants to stay undefeated, it will need to roll coverage and help Meier to eliminate the deep balls that tend to go Funderburk's way.


OSCAR SMITH WINS IF: It can get over 40 points. It may seems like a lot, but the Tigers have put up 40 or more in each of the last three weeks. The game looks to be a high-scoring affair and the Tigers will need to keep pace to win. Oscar Smith has the playmakers on offense to keep the scoreboard operator busy.


GREAT BRIDGE WINS IF: It forces turnovers. Both teams can score and score in bunches, but Oscar Smith is the deeper team entering the contest. If Great Bridge can frustrate the Tigers with turnovers and get up early, it could pull the mild upset.


PREDICTION: This should be one of the more entertaining games on the east coast this weekend. And while it is being played largely for pride, both teams bring plenty of that into the game. The Tigers are the nationally ranked squad and have a bulls-eye on their back but have been in that spot for nearly a decade in AAA. Great Bridge is playing with some swagger and has the ability to keep pace. The difference is on defense. Smith is a step above Great Bridge and that will be the key to the game. - Oscar Smith 46, Great Bridge 28

-- For more on both teams and Virginia football, visit VirginiaPreps.com

Weekend Watch
No. 35 Peach County
vs. Baldwin

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
PEACH COUNTY
DB Jontavious Davis (5-9/160, Sr.)
RB Travis Richmond (5-11/180, Sr.)
QB Brett Montgomery (5-11/178, Sr.)
BALDWIN
LB Kitray Solomon (6-3/21-, Sr.)
DB Myles Faulk (5-11/165, Sr.)

When: Friday 11/5, 8 p.m.
Last Meeting: 9/11/09, Peach County won, 17-7
Rankings: Peach County (9-0), No. 3 in Georgia
Baldwin (9-0), No. 22 in Georgia


WHY IT'S BIG: Both teams enter the game unbeaten on the season; the game is for the AAA Region 2 title. The teams have combined to allow just 135 total points (68 by Baldwin, 67 by Peach County). Class AAA may be the most competitive in the state this season and these teams are near the top of the heap. Oh, and did we mention the teams have a healthy dislike for one another?


BEST MATCHUP: The Baldwin defense against the Peach County offense. Yes, both teams have limited the opposition's scoring, but Peach County has scored nearly 200 points more than Baldwin. It will be the charge of the Braves to stop Peach County's offense if it wants to win the game.


BALDWIN WINS IF: The game is low scoring. Extremely low scoring. Baldwin will need to win this game by keeping Peach County in near single-digits. This will mean a complete defensive game needs to be played and the field position battle needs to be won. If Peach County can get into the 20's this game, it will be over for Baldwin, which likely will not be scoring that much against Peach County.


PEACH COUNTY WINS IF: It breaks the pressure from Baldwin. Peach County only has been held under 35 points once this season - against Class AAAAA Warner Robins in the first week of the season. It also has not seen a defense like it will encounter on Friday night.


PREDICTION: This will be an intense and low-scoring game. Both teams keep their best players on defense and like to slow and frustrate the opponents. Peach County is a highly successful program that has been flying relatively under the radar for the last five years. It is finally getting its recognition this year. That recognition also gives it a giant bulls-eye on its back. - Peach County 24, Baldwin 6

Weekend Watch
No. 22 Colerain
vs. Hamilton

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
COLERAIN
RB Trayion Durham (6-1/230, Sr.)
LB Jarrett Grace (6-4/240, Sr.)
LB Andrew Smith (6-2/200, Sr.)
HAMILTON
WR Brian Cleckley (6-1/175, Sr.)
DT Terrion Jackson (6-4/250, Sr.)

When: Saturday 11/6, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 10/8/10, Colerain won, 17-14.
Rankings: Colerain (10-0), No. 2 in Ohio
Hamilton (7-3), No. 16 in Ohio


WHY IT'S BIG: An opening-round game in the Ohio Division I playoffs is a rematch of a 17-14 game that Colerain came back to win just a month ago. Region 4 in the bracket may be one of the most balanced from top to bottom; every team is capable of making a run out of the bracket. Hamilton has the ability to shut down the Colerain rush attack. An upset could be in the making.


BEST MATCHUP: The Hamilton defensive line against the Colerain offensive line. Colerain is going to want to run the ball; Hamilton has shown the ability to slow the Cardinals down. If it is going to achieve the upset, it will need to own the line of scrimmage and win the defensive front.


HAMILTON WINS IF: It is able to stuff the run, win the field position and force turnovers. It is said to be easier to beat a team that already has beat you due to making adjustments and playing with the revenge factor. However, with the way that Hamilton gave Colerain a scare, it is likely that Colerain treated that win as a loss and has prepared harder than it possibly would have otherwise. Hamilton will not be sneaking up on the Cardinal and it will need to play a complete game to win.


COLERAIN WINS IF: It plays better than it did last time the two met. The Cardinals won a sloppy game that it needed to dig deep to win. This team is the stronger and more talented squad, but it will need to play a clean game. The last game between the two was not pretty for Colerain and if it wants to win a state title this is a game it obviously has to win.


PREDICTION: The Cardinals do not have a short memory and the near loss to Hamilton is still fresh in their mind. The same can be said for Hamilton. The team's three losses were all against ranked opponents. It also has a couple of very close wins against lesser opponents, meaning it plays to the level of the competition. Colerain comes out fast and gets going quickly. - Colerain 32, Hamilton 10

-- For more on both teams and Ohio football, visit OhioVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 69 Bentonville
vs. Har-Ber

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
HAR-BER
OL Brey Cook (6-7/314, Sr.)
LB Hunter Kissinger (6-3/218, Sr.)
BENTONVILLE
OL Marcus Danenhauer (6-5/315, Sr.)
WR Desmond Smith (6-1/165, Jr.)

When: Friday 11/5, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 11/6/09, Bentonville won, 17-0.
Rankings: Bentonville (9-0), No. 1 in Arkansas
Har-Ber (8-1), No. 3 in Arkansas


WHY IT'S BIG: Two of the top three teams in the state of Arkansas take the field in what figures to be one of the best games of the season. Har-Ber may have the best offense in the state and, despite falling two weeks ago, could still figure in the best-team-in-the-state rankings. Bentonville has navigated its way to a perfect season so far but this will be its biggest challenge to date.


BEST MATCHUP: Har-Ber offense versus Bentonville offense. The low outputs this season are 30 points for Bentonville and 28 points for Har-Ber. You do the math. Both teams have more games above 40 points than below. Defense is optional and whichever team has the ball last may just get the victory.


BENTONVILLE WINS IF: It has the ball last. This is a squad that has averaged 50 points the last four weeks and figures to score a lot of points. It also allowed Fort Smith Northside to score 41 points two weeks ago. If Northside can score that many points, it will be interesting to see how much Har-Ber can throw up.


HAR-BER WINS IF: It has the ball last. Yep, it's going to be like that. Har-Ber has averaged nearly 50 in its last five games but has allowed 51 and 38 in the last two weeks so it is not going to be a defensive struggle. Coach Wood is a disciple of Gus Malzhan and likes to move the ball through the air, and likes to do it quickly. The last two minutes of this game could produce two touchdowns.


PREDICTION: Get to the game early if you want a seat. There is going to be a packed house and there will not be much sitting down on either side of the stadium. This will be a track meet and it will be exciting to watch. It is defense optional and buckle up for a fast ride. Har-Ber may have the better offense and it needs the win more. - Har-Ber 55, Bentonville 49

-- For more on both teams and Arkansas football, visit ArkansasVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 28 Westlake
vs. St. Bonaventure

RIVALS HIGH KEY PLAYERS
WESTLAKE
RB Tavior Mowry (5-9/183, Sr.)
WR Nelson Spruce (6-2/190, Sr.)
DR Jaime Forster (6-4/290, Sr.)
ST. BONAVENTURE
LB Cody Kurz (6-3/238, Sr.)
ATH Jalen Jefferson (6-3/201, Sr.)
DT Danuel Saipale (6-3/270, Sr.)

When: Friday 11/5, 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: 12/4/09 Westlake won, 17-7
Rankings: Westlake (8-0), No. 5 in California
St. Bonaventure (7-1), No. 11 in California


WHY IT'S BIG: A win for Westlake would give it an outright win in the Marmonte. If St. Bonaventure can pull the victory it will force a three-way tie with Westlake and Oaks Christian. The two played a very good game last year in the playoffs, which Westlake won. St. Bonaventure has been on a roll the last few weeks and appears to be ready to take on the nationally ranked opponent.


BEST MATCHUP: The coaching battle between Jim Benkert and Todd Therrien. The two teams have nearly identical point differential, both have played well of late, and both have good players on both sides of the ball. Whichever can win the chess match will win the football game.


ST. BONAVENTURE WINS IF: It plays a full 48. St. Bonaventure is a team that has an explosive offense and feels it gave away a game this year to Oaks Christian. A win over Westlake will put that game behind the Seraphs. Being able to go over the top early will be a jump start to the offense.


WESTLAKE WINS IF: Its defense dictates play. The Warriors have not allowed more than 14 points in any game this season. If it is able to say that leaving this game it will be a certain victory. Westlake is a team on the rise nationally; this is a game that can help punctuate its legitimacy before the playoffs begin.


PREDICTION: Both teams have plenty to prove in this game, but St. Bonaventure is the team that needs it more. It is a road game for the Serephs, but that shouldn't matter in this one. Both teams are very good. If St. Bonaventure is able to record the victory, it is likely both will be nationally ranked. Westlake is not going to be pushed around however. - St. Bonaventure 21, Westlake 17

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

Weekend Watch
Other Predictions (2010: 71-29)
Game of Week: Katy (Texas) High def. Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch, 31-20
No. 4 Mission Viejo def. Tesoro, 33-20
No. 34 North Gwinnett def. Peachtree Ridge, 20-7
No. 54 Lake Travis def. Cedar Park, 35-30 *E-mail request*
No. 77 Rockhurst def. Blue Springs South, 20-18 *E-Mail request*
Gardner-Edgerton (Kan.) def. Bonner Springs, 50-19 *E-mail request*
Have your game picked next week: E-mail Dallas Jackson
Game of the Week record: 7-4
2010 Record for all games picked: 78-33



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