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Road to the MO State Championship: Previews & Predictions | MSHSAA

The Geek’s MSHSAA State Championship Playoff Preview and Predictions

Last Friday night’s District 1 results might seem mundane at first glance. Powerhouses like Valle Catholic and Vianney High School triumphed, returning to the “Elite Eight” of their respective Classes once again.

But look deeper, and just about everything we thought we knew about riverside MSHSAA football was turned on its head.

The Eureka Wildcats blanked Lindbergh 24 to 0, belying the notion that a loaded 6A bracket would come down to a slugfest. Defending state champion Kirkwood did not make it out of the Semifinals.

Hillsboro High beat Cape Girardeau Central for the Hawks’ first District title since 2012, prevailing 36-28 with a terrific 4th quarter. Meanwhile, Park Hills Central unexpectedly crushed Salem 42-3 with a dazzling aerial attack.

The Jackson Indians pushed defending-5A champ Vianney to the edge in an astounding 2nd quarter filled with 9 touchdowns. Cooper Callis passed for 399 yards and 6 scores, boosting his chances to start for an NCAA team. The Griffins held on to win 71-50, but the Indians are proud to have bloodied a bunch that beat Chaminade 45-0 earlier this year.

Hayti failed to spark any momentum in a 42-18 loss to Valle, but not all is lost for fans of small schools from the Bootheel. The Caruthersville Tigers beat Malden for the 2nd time in 2017, finally reaching the state playoffs again after years of frustration.

Let’s take a look each District 1 winner’s chances to make a Show Me Bowl appearance on Thanksgiving weekend. (Or sooner…)

 

Eureka Wildcats (12-0)

Wonderful news for Eureka: Class 6 includes half as many Districts as other enrollment levels, meaning the Wildcats are already in the Final Four. Win once, and EHS will play in the 6A title game next weekend.

Anxious news for Eureka: Standing in the way are the Christian Brothers College Cadets, winners of 10 in a row and unbeaten against Missouri opponents in ’17. QB Brett Gabbert (yes, he’s Blaine’s little brother) has passed for 30 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions for CBC, and his teammate Bryan Bradford is as good a junior RB as you’ll find in Mound City. The Cadet defense is burly enough to have held Tionne Harris to less than 100 yards passing on 24 attempts while handing Vianney its only loss on October 13th.

Is there a weakness? The Cadets looked a little flawed in their 48-20 District 2 title win over Hazelwood Central, a lunch-bucket team that scrapped its way into the Final. If the Eureka “Hit Squad” continues its reign of terror against opposing QBs, and the OL blocks well for Hassan Haskins, by this weekend “CBC” could stand for “Can’t Beat Cats.”

SEMIFINAL PREDICTION: EUREKA 22, CBC 19

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 55%

 

Vianney Golden Griffins (10-1)

As highly as MVP Sports has touted Vianney this season, there’s no question that the defense took a step backward last weekend against unfamiliar Jackson. It could serve as a wake-up call or an ominous sign of a doomed title defense.

Quarterfinal opponent Pattonville lost to the Griffins 42-28 in Week 1. But since then the Pirates have beaten Kirkwood, beaten Webster Groves, and sailed through their District bracket without much trouble.

Still, Harris will be the best player on the field.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTION: VIANNEY 35, PATTONVILLE 17

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 60%

 

Hillsboro Hawks (9-3)

The Hawks broke a 5-year District title drought not only for themselves but for all of Jefferson County by beating Cape Central. Nice little story, right? Nice little team. Ladue High, an annual Class 5 contender that found itself in 4A this season, is sure to slam the door shut on Friday.

Not so fast. This has all the makings of a “trap” game for the visiting Rams. Yes, they held Country Day, a team that beat Hillsboro in Week 9, to 215 total yards in a 52-21 District Final rout last weekend. But a disastrous performance by Graham Bundy Jr. gave LHS several extra chances with the ball.

That won’t happen against the Hawks, who eat the game clock like pork chops and gravy. A star-studded senior backfield will give Hillsboro a fighting chance.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTION: LADUE 34, HILLSBORO 28

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 30%

 

Park Hills Central (12-0)

Fans have gotten used to a pattern from Park Hills Central. The team crushes all of its small-fry local opponents, impresses in the District playoffs, and then POW – hits The Wall against a big-time contender. When the Rebels can’t run and control the egg, their defense is overwhelmed by superior numbers.

Last Friday may have changed all that. Jace Bland had a magnificent performance vs Salem, throwing for 200+ yards and 3 touchdowns on only 14 attempts against tight coverage.

Lutheran South, the Rebs’ Q-Final opponent, is anything but a pushover. But if the Lancer defense tries stacking the box? Bombs away.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTION: PARK HILLS CENTRAL 27, LUTHERAN SOUTH 24

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 40%

 

Caruthersville Tigers (9-2)

You won’t find a better public-school program than Caruthersville. But The Geek is afraid they’re up against Godzilla in Week 13.

The Lutheran North Crusaders have joined Lamar and Trinity Catholic as Class 2 programs that either collect elite players or grow them in a lab somewhere. Country Day, an above-average Class 4 team, lost to the Crusaders 56-7 earlier this season.

Lutheran North visits Caruthersville on Friday night. Do the Tigers have any chance? As Commander Lock said in The Matrix, “I wish you wouldn’t ask me that question.”

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTION: LUTHERAN NORTH 70, CARUTHERSVILLE 12

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 5%

 

Valle Catholic Warriors (10-1)

It can feel boring covering the Warriors, not because they win but because the games are rarely close. Hayti traveled to St. Genevieve thinking they had a real shot last weekend. It was 21-0 after 12 minutes.

Q-Final opponent Thayer began the season with a putrid 56-14 loss to Hayti. Since then, they’ve been better. But it won’t be enough.

Valle fans have been dreading a Show Me Bowl match-up with Penney High School, but the Hornets lost to Princeton-Mercer 46-16 in a District Final.

QUARTERFINAL PREDICTION: VALLE 44, THAYER 6

CHANCE TO MAKE SHOW ME BOWL: 80%

 

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