Week 1 high school football preview capsules
Friday, August 24, 2012
John Burroughs at Central
Last year: Did not play
Outlook: The Tigers have a monumental assignment despite playing down one class in their season opener tonight. Central opens the season trying to stop senior Ezekiel Elliott, a running back who not only led John Burroughs to the Class 3 state championship game last season but who also has given Ohio State a verbal commitment.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Elliott led the St. Louis area in scoring last season with 42 touchdowns and 2,203 yards of total offense, according to stltoday.com. He averaged 8.5 yards a carry in running for 1,802 yards and had 401 yards receiving.
Central coach Nathan Norman has seen video highlights of Elliott, who placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles and fifth in the 100 at the Class 3 track championships last spring.
"I've seen enough to know we've got our hands full Friday night," said Norman, who launches his second season as Tigers coach. "He's very good. The unfortunate thing is he's not the only one. They're a good football team."
The Bombers return eight starters on offense and nine on defense from last year's team that went 13-2, according to stltoday.com. Their 2011 season ended with a 21-14 loss to Logan-Rogersville in the Class 3 state championship game.
Much again is expected of the Bombers this season. The school was a unanimous No. 1 pick among the 13 statewide voters in the Class 3 preseason poll. Defending state champion Logan-Rogersville slipped to No. 4.
The Bombers graduated quarterback Davey Holmes but return leading tackler Christian Bledsoe, a senior linebacker, and his brother Xavier, a 6-3 defensive end. The Bombers' talented crew includes 6-3, 200-pound senior receiver Foyesade Oluokun, who was second on last year's team with 41 receptions for 669 yards.
The Bombers are coached by former St. Louis Rams quarterback Gus Frerotte.
Central has won its last two season openers by defeating New Madrid 41-6 both times. The 2010 victory commenced an 8-0 start, and last year's win was part of a 4-0 start.
The Tigers return their top three rushers from last season's 6-3 squad in seniors Jacob Campbell and Chris Martin and junior Mikey Jones.
Junior Dennis Vinson has moved into the starting quarterback spot for the Tigers. He started the final game of 2011 and completed all six of his passes -- two for touchdowns -- against Perryville.
Norman said the new district format had the Tigers looking for extra games and an opponent for the opening week. John Burroughs was in the same situation.
"They'll be a good, tough opponent, but it's good for us," Norman said. "It'll be good for the kids to play a quality team like John Burroughs."
Jackson at North County
Last year: Jackson 14, North County 7
Outlook: The Indians make their debut under first-year coach Brent Eckley.
The schools, both 2-8 last season, are meeting for the third consecutive year. North County has provided Jackson with two of its five wins over the past two seasons.
Jackson returns its top three rushers from last season in juniors Colten Proffer and Garrett Miller and senior Lowgn Wren. Junior Trea Forbs also returns after leading the Indians with 18 catches for 140 yards last season. Junior Ty Selsor, who directed the Indians' offense the second half of last season, will start at quarterback tonight.
North County graduated second-team all-region running back Matt Rion, who was the top weapon in last year's offense. The Raiders lost their final four games of the 2011 season.
Sumner at St. Vincent
Last year: Did not play
Outlook: St. Vincent unexpectedly opens its season at home and picks up bonus play-up points for facing a larger school when Class 3 Sumner visits for a 6 p.m. start.
St. Vincent, a Class 1 school, originally was scheduled to travel to Tennessee to play Lancaster Christian Academy but found out last week the school was not a member of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
Sumner struggled to a 1-7 record last season with its lone victory a 34-0 win against Soldan. The Bulldogs totaled just 53 points in their seven losses.
St. Vincent will debut with senior Trent Elder at quarterback. Elder is replacing graduated quarterback Tim Schumer. Junior Alex Winkler is expected to play a prominent role in the passing and running game in the Indians' new spread offense.
Herculaneum at Scott City
Last year: Herculaneum 22, Scott City 14
Outlook: The teams met last year in Class 2 District 2 play but reside in different districts this season. Herculaneum qualified for the playoffs as district runner-up to Crystal City last year.
Scott City returns two important members of its offense from last year's 5-5 team in senior quarterback Jonathan McFall and senior running back Travis Phillips.
McFall passed for a school-record 1,506 yards and 19 touchdowns last season but has lost his top two receivers. Phillips had a pair of 200-yard rushing games before his junior season ended prematurely with a knee injury that required surgery. Phillips only carried the ball two times during last week's jamboree but is expected to see extensive duty tonight.
Herculaneum graduated two-time 1,000-yard rusher Frank Abate but returns Dustin Johnson, who ran for more than 500 yards and averaged nearly 6 yards a carry as a sophomore. The Blackcats also graduated quarterback Blake Womacks.
Herculaneum will play its first game under new coach David Cook.
Chaffee at Grandview
Last year: Chaffee 42, Grandview 7
Outlook: This season-opening matchup has become a tradition. Chaffee and Grandview have christened their season with each other since 1998. Grandview won that meeting 14-13, and the series has been competitive since. Chaffee is 8-6 in the 14 meetings and has won five of the last six meetings.
Neither team qualified for the playoffs last season. Chaffee graduated starting quarterback Jordan Yahn and 1,400-yard rusher Tyson Estes from last year's 5-5 team. Peyton Montgomery will make his first varsity start at quarterback for the Red Devils, who have adopted a spread offense to take advantage of the sophomore's arm. Montgomery's older brother, Charlie, figures to be a main weapon in the offense. Charlie Montgomery was the team's leading receiver as a sophomore. Junior Jimmy Golden is expected to be a primary figure in the Red Devils' running game.
Grandview's loss to Chaffee last year was part of an 1-8 season for the Eagles. Their lone win was a 28-15 win against St. Pius X in Week 3.
The Eagles return their leading rusher in junior Wes Sullivan and second-leading rusher in senior Christian Murphy. Grandview also returns its top receiver in senior Andy Allen but graduated quarterback Andrew Holland.
Grandview will be playing its first game on its newly installed artificial turf, according to stltoday.com.
East Prairie at Perryville
Last year: Did not play
Outlook: Both teams are coming off 1-9 seasons. The Pirates are looking for a fresh start after losing 21 of their last 22 games, and the Eagles have been a source of W's in the past.
Perryville ended a perfect run against East Prairie when they last met in the 1990 season. The Pirates were 6-0 in the annual meetings that spanned back to 1985.
Perryville sophomore Tyler Holligan will make his debut at quarterback.
-- Jeff Breer