No. 6 Sacred Heart-Griffin (8-2) at No. 14 Marmion Academy (6-4)
Game time: 2 p.m. Saturday at Fichtel Field
Last week: Sacred Heart-Griffin 56, Hubbard 13; Marmion 34, Shepard 7
Outlook: Sacred Heart-Griffin aims for a return to the Class 6A title game, which it lost last year to Prairie Ridge. The Cyclones finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Central State Eight Conference behind Rochester (10-0). Led by a pair of future college running backs, they average 46.5 ppg. All-state back Tremayne Lee (5-9, 195) is committed to Southern Illinois. Fellow senior Brian Adams (5-9, 175) will play at Illinois State. Adams had an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week against Hubbard, one of his 3 touchdowns, and Lee rushed for 140 yards and a score, according to the State Journal-Register. Marmion could benefit from the rainy forecast; slippery conditions on Fichtel Field's grass surface might neutralize SH-G's speed advantage. "We're very thankful we don't have turf because of their team speed," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "They're a tremendous program, but our motto from Week one through Week 11 has been respect all and fear none." The Cadets must find creative ways to offset a size disadvantage. For instance, Marmion's 170-pound defensive ends are outweighed by 70-100 pounds by some SH-G offensive linemen. The defense must stop the big play. The Cadets allow 28.5 ppg. Junior middle linebacker John Roche leads the defense with 39 tackles (20 solo). Offensively, Marmion averages 33 points and 351 total yards per game. Quarterback Brandon McPherson has completed 99 of 184 passes (53.8 percent) for 1,566 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has thrown 6 interceptions and been sacked 15 times. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior has rushed for 260 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior Zach Urwiler leads the team with 417 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The Cadets hope to keep the score close in the second half. "The thing we have in our favor is we've had four or five close games," Thorpe said. "They've had two and lost both of them. We just need to have it close in the fourth quarter. Our kids have shown they are very resilient."
Advancement: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner between No. 7 Danville (8-2) at No. 2 Nazareth Academy (9-1)