Marist is hosting the Canyon Springs Cougars on Friday, a team out of Nevada’s Class AAAA. The War Eagles (1-0) are coming off an outstanding performance in their 49-0 win over Lovett to kickoff the 2019 season. In that game, sophomore quarterback Connor Cigelski took 15 carries for 125 yards and three scores, while going a perfect 7-of-7 passing for 179 yards and two touchdowns to junior Josh Moore. Marist took a 42-0 lead before Cigelski sat the entire second half. As for Canyon Springs, they are coming off an 8-4 season in 2018 and are taking an 0-1 record into Friday’s matchup after coming up just short in their opener. The Cougars’ opener pinned them against Nevada’s No. 7 ranked team, Foothill. Canyon Springs’ sophomore quarterback Nyic’Quavayion Willis tossed a pair of early touchdowns to junior Javeion Davis that gave the Cougars an early 14-0 lead, but Foothill rallied and went up 29-21 late. Trailing by eight points, Willis found running back Martin Blake for a touchdown with just 29 seconds left in the game, but the Cougars failed the potential game-tying 2-point conversion. This matchup should be an entertaining cross-state battle between two teams being led by Class of 2022 quarterbacks.
Here’s a look at the rest of my top 5 matchups.
LaGrange vs. Callaway
LaGrange is one of the more intriguing teams to watch for this season under second-year head coach Chuck Gibbs. The Grangers followed up their 0-10 effort in 2017 by posting a 2-8 finish last season, but losses like the 3-2 defeat to Sandy Creek showcased not only their defensive prowess, but also their potential if the offense progressed. This year, LaGrange got off to a great start by defeating Class AA No. 5 ranked Heard County 24-9. The Grangers scored 24 unanswered points after Heard County built a 9-0 lead in the opening quarter. The got on the board with a Kaleb Ceja 25-yard field goal and then took a 10-9 lead with 1:45 left in the half on a Charles Crawford 20-yard touchdown pass to Logan Karcher. Kaleb Gibbs grew the lead to 17-9 with a 47-yard rushing score late in the third quarter, before Crawford added a 36-yard touchdown run in the final frame. Callaway is the No. 3 ranked team in Class AA heading into the matchup. Callaway is coming off a 10-7 loss to Opelika (AL) in its opener. Opelika is a Class 6A powerhouse out of Alabama currently ranked No. 13 overall in their state. A LaGrange victory would match last year’s win total just two weeks into the 2019 season and build a lot of excitement around the program heading into the backend of the non-region schedule.
St. Pius at Westminster
Westminster is coming off losses to Woodward Academy (19-0) and Greater Atlanta Christian (19-14) and will host the 1-1 St. Pius Golden Lions on Friday. St. Pius kicked off the season with a 28-10 loss to Blessed Trinity and then won 10-8 over Dunwoody on Friday. With Westminster averaging just 7 ppg and St. Pius averaging just 10 ppg offensively through the first two games, this will be a challenge for both offenses. St. Pius has won the last five matchups against the Wildcats including last year’s 35-9 victory.
Westover at Monroe
This will be the final test for the Westover Patriots before Region 1-AAAA play begins the following week against Columbus. The Patriots started the year off with a big 47-16 win over Cook and then had a bye this past week. Last year’s Westover squad posted a 4-4 record in region play like Hardaway, but the Golden Hawks took the tiebreaker as the No. 4 seed and the Patriots missed out on the playoffs.
Woodward Academy at Blessed Trinity
Woodward Academy’s defense through the first two games has been a dramatic improvement from a year ago. The War Eagles have allowed just 3.5 ppg though their first two contests after giving up 27.9 ppg last year. As for Blessed Trinity, the two-time defending state champions carry a 23-game winning streak into the matchup. The Titans have opened the year with a 28-10 win over St. Pius and a 34-31 win over South Forsyth and will challenge the Woodward Academy defense with its dynamic rushing attack. Blessed Trinity is 3-0 in the all-time series with the War Eagles.