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2004 2A Finals Preview


Friday Nov 26th

2A Sterling (Newman Central Catholic)(11-1) vs. Carthage(13-0) 10am

2A Playoff Bracket


Sterling (Newman Central Catholic):
The Comets actually played a better game last year against the soon to be 2A ChampsGilman (Iroquois West)that Carthage did in the finals. While that doesn't give them the chance to claim 2nd place for 2003, it does give them a little food for thought on what they might be able to do.

The Comets will be back in the finals for the first time since 1998, where they lost to Carthage 30-26. While the players may not remember that game, many of the fans & parents will make sure come Friday that they know that school pride is at stake.

Newman's offense could wind up to be the enigma of the finals. While most of the carries over the season have gone to Clayton Norberg, 144 carries. That's first only just above the 140 of Chris Welty. Throw in fullback Nate Driessens & a scrambling QB named Chris Savatori & you're looking at an option offense that can confuse a defense, and has, while averaging 30 points a game. Put that in with a defense holding teams to just under 7 points a game & you could have one of the best finals match ups of the day.

Newman's offense could wind up to be the enigma of the finals.

Mike Lemay is the teams leading ball hawk, as he's has 89 total tackles. While Lemay only plays D, he'll be joined by offensive lineman Charlie McGinn & back Norberg, both of who follow his lead as the teams best tackler.

To say that Carthage is no stranger to the State Finals, is like like saying Michael Jordan is no stranger to basketball. It's a given. Well in the Blue Boys case it's a given at least since the mid 1990's.

The Blue Boys have build a bit of a quite dynasty, missing just 3 of the last 10 state finals

Head coach Jim Unruh took over in 1986, leading Carthage to the finals in '88 and finishing 2nd. While it took 7 years to get back to the big dance, Unruh & the Blue Boys haven't left. Kind of like a lonely kid at prom looking for a date. While usually ignored by the state rankings that include the larger schools and lacking the D1 talent that garners much of the attention in sports today. The Blue Boys have build a bit of a quite dynasty, missing just 3 of the last 10 state finals.

On average Carthage has been one of the top defenses in the state year in & year out. This year is no different. While giving up just 3 points a game, the Boys have managed to whip teams with a certain flair left for teams from West Texas not Western Illinois. While the drive to Carthage is a long & lonely one for teams. It's usually been the ride back that hurts the most oppoents of the Blue Boys.

With 8 shutouts this year Carthage has won all their games handily, except for a 2nd round playoff game versus Orion, which they managed to squeak out of by 2 points.

Putting up the brunt of the points for Carthage are their 3 backs. Brock Edris, David Watts & Ryan Biddenstadt. Who've racked up a combined 55 TDs this season plus 3327 yards rushing. Fullback Watts (1440) & running back Biddenstadt (1107) put up most of those yards.

While the success of the running game hasn't enabled QB Zach Reed the chance to toss the ball around that much. With a 50% completion percent & no interception & 11 TDs, he's still someone to watch whether it's a screen pass or a pass to his leading receiver Jason Wildrick 10 rec. 7 of which are TDs.

While the blowout factor may account for the lack of an overall leading tackler on the team. It says more about the wholeness of this club as a unit. Sack master Bryan Huff has shown the QB to the turf 11 times this year. Helping back up the opposition 73 yards. Jack Rodgers, Swearingen, Savas Melidis, Huff & Watts all have smashed into the ball carrier at least 30 plus time on their own as well as another 30 plus assisted.


by Vincent Johnson




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