James Damon’s Dome Predictions

damonIt’s time again for the blog that everybody loves, where I give my predictions for this year’s state championships.  A very interesting playoff run has shaped a round of title games pitting established powers against upstarts, many seeking their first state championship.  Onto the thoughts.  We’ll remind you that all games will be broadcast on the Prepcasts Broadcasting Network.
8-Man: North Andrew Cardinals vs. Stanberry Bulldogs
The rubber match between two teams that have met now three years in a row in the title tilt.  Stanberry rolled two years ago for their first state championship, and North Andrew captured their fourth title in the lowest scoring 8-man game ever last year.  These two teams can score with the best of them averaging 59 and 61 points per game.  Between the two undefeateds only one game has been within one score, so they both have not just won, but have been dominant.  Apart from turnover margin discussions, one gets the feeling that whoever has the ball last will win this one.  A coin flip might as easily determine the winner.  I’ll take Stanberry in a shoot-out. Click here for that game …
Stanberry 54  North Andrew 48
Class 1: Valle Catholic Warriors vs. Westran Hornets
This is a rematch from a classic 2010 championship game that was a rematch from earlier that year.  Westran beat Valle in season, only to see the Warriors win 22-21 in overtime when it counted most.  Alas, this is not 2010 and the earlier season meeting this year was a blowout win for Valle.  They seek title #13 which would put them atop the overall state tallies (at least until Webb City plays on Saturday), and Westran may have seen their best shot in that game four years ago.  Valle game plans out of the half as good as anybody in the state, consistently turning well played first halfs into blow-outs.  It’s tough to expect anything different here as the Valle spread is tough to stop and few teams can keep up with them.  Closer than the first meeting, but the Warriors do it again. Click here for that game …
Valle Catholic 56 Westran 20
Class 2: Lamar Tigers vs. South Callaway Bulldogs
I really want to suggest that this can be an entertaining ballgame.  I really think the Bulldogs have a lot to play for, and they have been impressive this season, even though the competition has not been spectacular.  None-the-less, they still have rolled in each of their games, scoring over 40 each game until their last two.  They hammered an undefeated Lafayette County squad, outfought another undefeated East Buchanan, and easily took out Palmyra.  But they have not seen a team like Lamar, whose only loss is a last second one to class 4 Carl Junction (whose only loss is to Webb City).  They rolled Class 3 solids Monett (lost to John Burroughs in the semis), Seneca (last year’s runner-up), and the rest of a yearly rough Big 8 schedule.  Three times they have scored less than 48 points in a game, and are 2-1 in those games.  I expect this game to be similar to the Strafford game, close early, but the Tigers two-headed QB attack rolls as the game wears along, and Lamar claims championship #4. Click here for that game …
Lamar 50 South Callaway 14
Class 3: Oak Grove Panthers vs. John Burroughs Bombers
The Bombers took a year off from their run to title games but return with a fury this year, with only one loss to Lutheran North.  Oak Grove plays for the title for the first time since 1990 and their first trip to the dome.  The Bombers expected to win at least once during the great EZ E days of Ezekiel Elliott, but came up short each trip.  This squad might be less heralded in some minds but has cruised in most games, including great wins over larger schools like Priory and Westminster (which is expected at JBS).  The Panthers, who shocked many, hammering Maryville a couple weeks ago come in with a crazy-sick rushing attack, netting over 500 ground yards in the semi-final.  They have won easily the last four weeks, despite their opponents’ having a record of 44-1 entering those games!  This is, in my opinion, the game of the weekend.  It should be dynamite with the Panther rushing attack, and Pat Richard looking for his third title as a coach (two previously at Orrick), and Oak Grove’s first.  The Bombers look to tack up title #9.  It could go either way, but the Bombers break through again in a tight one (unless they give up big plays early). Click here for that game …
JBS 34 Oak Grove 31
Class 4: Webb City Cardinals vs. Cape Central Tigers
Webb City has been a monster, currently undefeated and playing in their sixth consecutive title game, looking for a five-peat, and chasing title #13.  This year they added to the resume handing class 6 Rockhurst their lone loss in convincing fashion, and on the road.  Max Preps ranks them as the top team in the state from any class, and it’s hard to imagine this game will be any different from the 46-0 thrashing in last year’s semi over Cape.  Al Harris is a huge playmaker on the outside, but Minnesota commit, Kiante Hardin, owned him last year, and this team fits the Webb City mold.  Even though they have a superstar, they play as a unit, sound in all phases, big plays in all phases, capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes.  Great story for Cape to make the title game, but Webb cruised through two better teams the previous three weeks, beating Carl Junction, Harrisonville and Kearney. Click here for that game …
Webb City 43 Cape Central 7
Class 5: Nixa Eagles vs. Battle Spartans
This one should be fun as well.  Both teams look for their first state title, both are solid squads that snuck under the radar much of the year and entered the playoffs un-ranked.  Both have four losses, though that is quite misleading, as they are playing their best football now.  Added to the entertainment is that this is Battle’s first year of playoff eligibility.  Nixa features an option based attack with Mississippi State commit Alec Murphy, and showed a great defensive effort in shutting down Park Hill’s awesome ground game in the semis.  Styles are very similar between the teams as Battle mixes formations and likes the shotgun set, but prefers to run the football.  They are even similar defensively as they both run a 4-3 scheme and have quality athletes that play physical.  So who gets the edge?  This is a classic type of game of “who makes the bigger mistake, missing a tackle or turning over the football” or “who jumps out to a couple quick scores”.  Both teams will likely have jitters with a large regional audience watching on Fox and first time dome appearances.  It could go either way, and I think it’s a fun game.  I think Nixa’s athletes have a slight edge. Click here for that game …
Nixa 31 Battle 28
Class 6:  Rockhurst Hawklets vs. CBC Cadets
Two teams who have one loss collectively (Rock to Webb City), have played stiff competition and rolled nearly everybody, and have great coaching and athletes.  This game should be fun, but after seeing Rockhurst this year, they seem to have a real hunger to capture state title #10.  They, along with Jefferson City, were considered the creme de la creme for years in Missouri high school football.  Valle Catholic and Webb City have entered that conversation, and even surpassed it in recent years.  Can CBC match that hunger as they seek their first state title?  They have been in the mix the last several years, have consistently begun to produce quality athletes that play at the next level, and certainly can win against the big boys.  Rock has a balanced attack that seems to consistently get big plays from the passing game and TJ Green.  CBC has hammered every foe they have met this season, which is usually a solid schedule, but likely is down a bit this year.  Any take-aways from that?  Not likely, because they did not just sneak by but won every game by at least two touchdowns.  Apart from the two TD win (Rock Bridge, last year’s runner-up), the next closest game was a 31 point spanking of Ft. Zumwalt West.  This game is much closer, and I think this might be the year for CBC, but my gut says Rockhurst will find a way. Click here for that game …
Rockhurst 28 CBC 21

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