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October 7, 2010

Forgive us for being blunt. But, hey, it's football.

So let's call this week: Put up or shut up.

We can start in Maryland - a state we had high hopes for. This week, it's time to find out if any are worthy of our rankings. No. 91 Good Counsel needs a win to stay in; DeMatha needs a win to regain its respectability.

The same can be said for Cincinnati, Ohio - where Elder and Moeller will meet. Both are perennial powers. Yet both are coming off big 35-10 losses. It's time to see who's the real deal.

Head on down to Miami, where No.20 Central and No. 57 Northwestern will get it on. Both are ranked - and figure to remain that way either way - but this is Florida, where trash-talking is just part of the deal.

Both sides are looking for bragging rights. And, yes, they will brag.

The same can be said down in Texas, where No. 58 Lufkin takes on No. 89 The Woodlands. Lufkin has won five of the last six meetings - and figures to do the same here.

But this is football, where you need to prove it each week on the field.

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

Be sure to predict the winning score on the Game of the Week for a chance to win a free Rivals.com subscription to the site of your choice.

Weekend Watch
No. 91 Good Counsel
vs. DeMatha

DB Blake Countess (5-10/171, Sr.)
DT Vincent Croce (6-4/260, Sr.)
QB Zach Dancel (6-0/192, Sr.)
ATH Stefon Diggs (6-0/160, Jr.)
OL Cyrus Kouandijo (6-7/322, Sr.)
LB Darian Harris (6-1/210, Sr.)
ATH Jordan Lomax (5-10/185, Sr.)

WHEN: Friday 10/8, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 11/21/09, Good Counsel won, 14-7
RANKINGS: Good Counsel (4-1), No. 3 in Maryland
DeMatha (3-2), No. 9 in Maryland

WHY IT'S BIG: This battle of two of the state's top perennially top teams is usually one both really want to win. This year, it's one that they have to. DeMatha, which is not playing up to its usual standards, needs a win here to right the ship and get back into its winning ways. Good Counsel, this season's top team, needs a victory to maintain its spot in the national rankings and keep its promising season alive. If DeMatha wins and both move to 4-2, neither will be rankable nationally.

BEST MATCHUP: Good Counsel's offensive line against DeMatha's defensive line. Good Counsel already has seen a better defensive team this season - Cincinnati St. Xavier - and was able to navigate that game to a win. The difference in this contest will be the size of the opponent. St. X was a fast team on defense, relying on its speed. DeMatha is much more physically imposing. Despite giving up a lot of big plays on that side of the ball, DeMatha figures to be ready to take on the Falcons.

DEMATHA WINS IF: Its defense shows up to the field. The Stags have given up nearly 28 points in each of their five games and that is just too many. If DeMatha expects to win this game, it will need to hold Good Counsel below 20. Much of that falls squarely on the front seven of the defense.

GOOD COUNSEL WINS IF: It plays with balance on offense. The Falcons primarily have been a run-heavy team this season with a conservative pro-style offense. If the team can establish the run but still open the field with a big pass play, it will go a long way to determining the winner.

PREDICTION: The games between these two teams generally are very hotly contested. This year, it could go the way of a rout. DeMatha has been loosely playing defense and Good Counsel has plenty of weapons on offense. This game should go as it would if it were played on paper. - Good Counsel 34, DeMatha 24

-- For more on both teams and Maryland football, visit MdHigh.com

Weekend Watch
No. 20 Central
vs. No. 57 Northwestern

QB Teddy Bridgewater (5-3/185, Sr.)
WR Eli Rogers (5-10/180, Sr.)
DB Jermaine Reve (6-0/175, Sr.)
OL Everette Slocum (6-4/260, Sr.)
RB Devonta Freeman (5-9/180, Sr.)
WR Tommy Shuler (5-9/182, Sr.)
QB Rakeem Cato (6-1/170, Sr.)
WR Charles Gaines Jr (5-11/181, Sr.)

WHEN: Friday 10/8, 7:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 11/27/09; Central won 29-16
RANKINGS: Central (4-1), No. 4 in Florida
Northwestern (4-0), No. 10 in Florida

WHY IT'S BIG: Besides the 30 starters that will be playing college football and being two of the perennial powers in Florida and the nation, this game easily could have been the national game of the week. And if it weren't for a near certain second-round playoff game between the two, it would have been. Expect plenty of fireworks - and plenty of flags - in this one as both teams have extremely good passing games and plenty of skill-position talent to go around.

BEST MATCHUP: Central quarterback Rakeem Cato against Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. When two South Florida teams line up it is an impressive feat when one of the two has a legitimate quarterback and not a glorified running back playing quarterback. This game will feature two true quarterbacks and should be a spectacular showcase for both. Rakeem Cato is one of the more unheralded players in the country and headed to Florida International; Teddy Bridgewater is a touted prospect headed to The U.

CENTRAL WINS IF: It plays as it did in last year's playoff win and not like it did in the regular-season loss. For those who don't remember, Central was close to 25 penalties in its loss and was under 10 penalties in its win. If the Rockets can get off the field and not help the Bulls extend drives, it should have a slight talent edge and get the win.

NORTHWESTERN WINS IF: Its defensive backs come to play. This will be the biggest test of the season for the Bulls' secondary; Jermaine Reve, Eric Kinsey and James Davis will need to be ready for it. Central has been able to hang at least 40 points on every opponent this season. Iif it can hit that number Friday night, the Bulls will be in trouble.

PREDICTION: Strangely enough, when these two high-powered offenses get together, the fireworks do not go off every other play as many would expect. The rivalry is intense and so each play gets magnified. It is starting to be a bad cliché to associate Miami teams with being undisciplined, but the fact is, whichever team has the fewer penalties in this game will likely come out on top. - Central 30, Northwestern 16

-- For more on both teams and Florida high school football, visit FlaVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
Elder vs. Moeller

DE Jesse Hayes (6-4/230, Sr.)
LB Kendall Walker (6-1/210, Sr.)
DB Shaquille Jinks (6-1/190, Sr.)
LB Jake Lindsey (6-1/210, Sr.)

WHEN: Friday 10/8, 7:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 10/9/09, Moeller won, 35-13
RANKINGS: Elder (2-4), No. 28 in Ohio
Moeller (5-1), No. 14 in Ohio

WHY IT'S BIG: Cincinnati football, specifically the GCL South, has taken a major hit in perception this season. St. X lost to Good Counsel. Moeller lost to Indianapolis Cathedral. Elder already has four losses, including to Louisville Trinity. This is a game that enters two teams with their backs against the wall coming off dual 35-10 losses: Moeller to Cathedral, Elder to St. Xavier. It is a must-win for both teams but for very different reasons.

BEST MATCHUP: Moeller's run offense against Elder's defensive front. A week off of an impressive win over St. Xavier, the Crusaders looked like they had not played football before, getting blown off the field by Indianapolis Cathedral. Elder barely has been a speed bump for good rush offenses this year and should be tested early and often in this contest. Which team gets the better of that situation likely will win.

ELDER WINS IF: Its defense plays more like it did against Louisville Trinity than it did against Cincinnati St. Xavier. Both games ended in a loss, but Elder at least looked interested in playing against Trinity. Not to question if the team has given up on the season, but if it doesn't respond this week, the season is over in every sense of the word.

MOELLER WINS IF: It can match the Elder emotion. The Panthers are backed into a corner entering this game and should come out playing with their hair on fire. If Moeller can take its best punch early and turn the momentum, it could get the win and pointed back in the right direction. Moeller's time in the RivalsHigh 100 is likely over for this season, but its spot in the playoffs can be solidified in the next few weeks.

PREDCITION: Both teams need this game and only one can claim victory. If it is Elder, the GCL South is a mess. If it is Moeller, as expected, the Cincinnati football world will remain on its axis. The Crusaders have the better team coming into the contest but that doesn't always guarantee victory. The home-field advantage, in this case, does. - Moeller 28, Elder 10

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

Weekend Watch
No. 58 Lufkin vs.
No. 89 The Woodlands

QB Deauntre Smiley (6-2/205, Sr.)
DE Darrell Kelly-Thomas (6-2/220, Sr.)
DB Travoskey Garrett (6-1/186, Sr.)
DL Connor Groom (6-3/270, Jr.)
QB Joseph Schneider (6-2/178, Sr.)
DL Michael Cooper (6-5/230, Sr.)
K Ben Pruitt (6-1/190, Sr.)

WHEN: Friday 10/8, 7:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 10/30/09; The Woodlands won 31-21
RANKINGS: Lufkin (5-0), No. 6 in Texas
The Woodlands (5-0), No. 10 in Texas

WHY IT'S BIG: It is the only ranked matchup in Texas this weekend. It also is likely to determine the winner of District 14-5A. It is also a chance to play a slight David-versus-Goliath. Lufkin is barely a third of the size of The Woodlands and is easily the smallest school in the district - but it has high aspirations and a realistic chance to win this game and make a statement.

BEST MATCHUP: Lufkin quarterback Deauntre Smiley against The Woodlands quarterback Joseph Schneider. For all of the running backs in Texas this season, this is a game that hinges on the play of the quarterbacks. Smiley is the more heralded and accomplished player coming into the game. Until this season Schneider had been a spot player with low expectations. The season was to be on the legs of Daniel Lasco who has been slowed by injury turning the reigns over to Schneider who has exceeded expectations.

THE WOODLANDS WINS IF: Schneider continues to play well. Entering the season, Schneider has been just 18-for-25 with 299 yards and six touchdowns as a spot player. The senior has the trust of players and coaches and that has been magnified with big wins over Ft. Bend Hightower and Tyler Lee.

LUFKIN WINS IF: It doesn't get ahead of itself. Lufkin has two good wins over Tyler and Longview, with the Tyler win coming on the road. The trip to The Woodlands will be the only remaining test on the schedule until the playoffs. If the Panthers play as they did against Longview, it could be on pace for an undefeated regular season.

PREDICTION: Lufkin has won five of the past six meetings in this series and - on paper - is the favorite to make it six of seven. Recent games have been close contests and this figures to be that way as well. The teams are fairly evenly matched and that makes for a very good game. If Daniel Lasco was healthy the prediction could go in a different direction. - Lufkin 24, The Woodlands 10

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

Weekend Watch
No. 6 Mission Viejo vs. East Valley

LB Tre Madden (6-1/215, Sr.)
RD Dallas Kessmen (5-9/178, Sr.)
OL Jordan Smith (6-5/255, Sr.)

WHEN: Friday 10/8, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: Teams have not met in the 2000s
RANKINGS: Mission Viejo (5-0), No. 2 in California
Redlands East Valley (3-1), No. 47 in California

WHY IT'S BIG: Mission Viejo has been blowing teams out and has quickly run its way up the national rankings. This will be one of the best tests for its offense as East Valley plays good team defense. The Wildcats do not have a laundry list of superstars but they only have allowed one team to break 10 points against them this season. The Diablos are in their last game before South Coast League play begins next week.

BEST MATCHUP: Mission Viejo's grinders against East Valley's grinders. Neither team is as close to as talented as many of the teams in the national spotlight, but they both are very well coached and get the best out of what they have. Mission Viejo is a name brand team but generally does not have the headliners (Mark Sanchez excluded). East Valley is usually a solid but unspectacular group as well that has not lost more than two games in a season since 2006.

EAST VALLEY WINS IF: It forces a lot of turnovers. Yes, its defense has only allowed one team to score over 10 points. But it has only scored more than 10 twice. It will take a lot more than that to beat Mission Viejo - and unless there are a couple short fields or big plays, it doesn't look like the Wildcats will be driving the field very often against the Diablos. Turnovers will be paramount for the upset.

MISSION VIEJO WINS IF: It executes its game plan. The Diablos clearly are the better team and should be able to get the win - and may even be able to get the second-teamers in the game in the fourth quarter. Head coach Bob Johnson likes to mix in a solid run and pass game; this will be a good game for him to challenge his offensive line.

PREDICTION: Teams playing like Mission Viejo is playing do not lose to teams playing like East Valley is playing. This is a game that is expected to be a very good win for the Diablos on the heels of a slight disappointment against Carson. Without a statement win, not necessarily a blowout, the lofty ranking it has attained could start to slide back. - Mission Viejo 35, East Valley 6.

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

Weekend Watch
Other Predictions (2010: 41-19)
Game of Week: Lowell (Mich.) High def. Grand Rapids (Mich.) East, 24-20
No. 8 West Monroe def. Ouachita Parish, 34-13
No. 86 Rockhurst def. Jefferson City, 26-9
Valdosta (Ga.) def. Lowndes, 24-22 *E-mail request*
William Chrisman (Mo.) def. Fort Osage, 26-21 *E-Mail request*
West Jefferson (Ohio) def. Millersport, 46-0 *E-mail request*
Have your game picked next week: E-mail Dallas Jackson
Game of the Week record: 4-3
2010 Record for all games picked: 45-22

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