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September 16, 2010

It's Week 4, the time of year when most teams start staying closer to home.

But that doesn't mean there aren't marquee matchups all over the place.

Take Maryland, where No. 38 DeMatha takes on No. 91 Gilman in what may end up being the unofficial state championship.

Or Louisiana, where No. 85 Curtis vs. No. 95 Salmen see if this year's game can top last year's - a one-point win for Curtis.

No. 13 Glenville and Cincinnati Anderson get it on in Ohio; and No. 41 Stony Point and No. 70 DeSoto figure to have it in another Texas thriller.

And don't forget about out West, where St. Mary's is out to prove it belongs in the same conversation as No. 29 De La Salle.

Don't get us wrong: We like a good interstate matchup as any - and we'll be keeping an eye on Tampa (Fla.) Plant and Abilene (Texas) High - but we figure most of you won't have to go far to find some football.

With that, a look at five of the best matchups this weekend.

Be sure to predict the winning score on the Game of the Week for a chance to win a free Rivals.com subscription to the site of your choice.

Weekend Watch
No. 38 DeMatha vs. No. 91 Gilman
OT Cyrus Kouandijo (6-7/322, Sr.)
DT Darian Cooper (6-3/275, Sr.)
LB Darien Harris (6-1/210, Sr.)
ATH Jordan Lomax (5-10/185, Sr.)
DT Kendall Patterson (6-2/272, Sr.)
RB Darius Jennings (6-0/180, Sr.)
OL Hunter Goodwin (6-5/280, Sr.)
DB Cyrus Jones (5-11/183, Jr.)
WHEN: Saturday 9/18, 7:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 9/11/09, DeMatha won 56-35
STANDINGS: DeMatha (2-0), No. 1 in Maryland
Gilman (2-1), No. 3 in Maryland

WHY IT'S BIG: Maryland football received a lot of preseason hype entering this season. It appeared to be justified when Olney (Md.) Good Counsel went to Cincinnati (Ohio) St. X and came home with a victory. Then Gilman beat Good Counsel - but got crushed by Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco. Maryland is now fighting the same perception problem that it has had for years. This game is as much a statement game for DeMatha as it is for the rest of the area. If Gilman is able to get the win and assert itself as the No. 1 team in the D.C.-Baltimore area, it likely would slide the entire area below Don Bosco (currently No. 37) for the rest of the season. Not a bad place to be last year, but expectations were much higher in 2010.

BEST MATCHUP: Darius Jennings vs DeMatha. As it has been every week, Jennings is what makes Gilman go - or in the case of last week, not go. DeMatha has not played much defense at all in the first two games, giving up 31 and 32 points. Last season, it was a high-scoring affair as well and a shootout like that does not help perception. DeMatha needs to lock down Jennings.

GILMAN WINS IF: Jennings has a big game. It has been the same story each week for Gilman. He was huge in the win against Good Counsel. Silent in the loss to Don Bosco. Not a hard equation. The team lives and dies on his legs and this week should be no different.

DEMATHA WINS IF: Its defense decides to show up. It was a question when the team gave up 31 to Loyola Blakefield. It was a head scratcher when it gave up 32 against Friendship Collegiate Academy. While it wouldn't be a stunner to see Gilman throw 35 on the board, it would raise concerns as to how legitimate this team is if it is averaging 34 ppg against it.

PREDICTION: Maryland teams seem to have had a tough time playing big back-to-back games. That seemingly would be an advantage for DeMatha as Gilman has started its season with three tough tests. DeMatha has been tested but not by a team with the talent that Gilman has. This looks like a game that turns Maryland on its head with Gilman rebounding from the thumping it took last week, but DeMatha and its suspect defense keeps things right in the Maryland universe. DeMatha 40, Gilman 30

-- For more on both teams and Maryland football, visit MDHigh.com

Weekend Watch
No. 85 Curtis vs. No. 95 Salmen
ATH Daniel Sams (6-2/210, Sr.)
DT Malcolm Pichon (6-3/350, Sr.)
QB Matt Lipham (6-4/210, Sr.)
LB Seth Jones (6-2/228, Sr.)
RB Torrey Pierce (5-8/172, Sr.)
DB Raydell Mason (6-0/182, Sr.)
WHEN: Friday 9/17, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: 9/18/09, Curtis won 24-23
STANDINGS: Curtis (2-0), No. 4 in Louisiana
Salmen (3-0), No. 5 in Louisiana

WHY IT'S BIG: Two of the top five teams in Louisiana on the same field is always of intrigue and this is no different. We were able to see Curtis last week and the Patriots are, as usual, one of the most physical and disciplined teams in the state. Seeing that offensive line factory in operation is impressive. Salmen was so close last year that the team could get it done this year.

BEST MATCHUP: Salmen offense against the Curtis defense. For all the things that Curtis does have, it may be lacking in athletes to matchup with Daniel Sams, Jaron Adams and some of the other options the Spartans can send at the Patriots. It will be fun to watch. Salmen's offense has been clicking in its first three games, averaging nearly 50 points. While it is unlikely it will be able put up that number, it was also unlikely it would have done it against Northside and Slidell - and then the Spartans did.

CURTIS WINS IF: It can contain the Salmen offense. Last year's one-point win may have started to usher in the confidence and the changing of the guard in the state. Salmen has enough kids coming back that know they can compete with Curtis. The Patriots will have to shut that confidence down early and make sure they are the ones dictating the game to Salmen. Salmen will want to spread the field and take advantage of being the faster and more athletic team. Curtis, if it wants to win, will need the game to look like last year's.

SALMEN WINS IF: It can push the pace. An early strike to let Curtis know it will not try to play the physical affair Curtis wants will go a long way. The offense has been clicking in the first three games but no opponent has been quite as tough or as well coached as the Curtis team will be. That said, this Salmen team looks ready to make its mark in Louisiana and push toward being a legit threat to win Class 4A.

PREDICTION: This is a contrast of styles in a major way. Usually when that happens, the smart and safe play is to take the better offensive line and more disciplined team. Conventional wisdom points at Curtis. This year, however, Salmen has a solid defensive line that isn't getting the press it deserves and the athletes on the outside of this spread offense will give Curtis fits. Take the speed here. Salmen 31, Curtis 21.

-- For more on both teams and Louisiana football, visit Pelicanpreps.com

Weekend Watch
No. 13 Glenville vs. Cincinnati Anderson

RB Jake Nelson (5-9/180, Sr.)
WR Jordan Shelton (5-10/170, Sr.)
DB Thomas Krutka (5-10/176, Sr.)
OL Aundrey Walker (6-5/355, Sr.)
LB Andre Sturdivant (6-2/249, Sr.)
QB Cardale Jones (6-5/217, Sr.)
RB Robert Walton (5-10/215, Sr.)
WHEN: Friday 9/17, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: First-ever meeting
STANDINGS: Glenville (3-0), No. 2 in Ohio
Anderson (3-0), No. 19 in Ohio

WHY IT'S BIG: Anderson is looking for respect. The team checks in at No. 9 in the Cincinnati area in just its second season in Division I. Glenville, No. 2 in the state, is hoping for another test before the conference schedule cakewalk begins. Anderson was able to crawl and scratch into the national rankings last season. A win over Glenville in Week 4 would catapult its stock early in the season.

BEST MATCHUP: Glenville's prestige versus Anderson's grinders. Not sure there will be a bigger game between two seemingly mismatched teams this week. Glenville comes in with nearly a dozen Division I prospects. Anderson will get off the bus with zero. Anderson is one of the hardest-working teams in the Cincinnati area and it will be out to prove there is more to the 275 loop than just the GCL.

GLENVILLE WINS IF: It does what it usually does and overpowers opponents. The Tarblooders have played their most difficult regular season schedule to date with four legitimate opponents before its league games. The team looks like one focused on finishing the deal this season and winning its first Ohio Division I title. If it struggles against Anderson and then slips into complacency during the regular season, St. Edward or Solon could sneak up on them in the playoffs. This is a mentality and focus game for Glenville.

ANDERSON WINS IF: It can frustrate Glenville as well as outcoach the Tarblooders. The Redskins will look across the field at a talent-superior team but one that often makes mental mistakes that can be costly. If Anderson can keep the game slow and low scoring it could benefit. Getting into a track meet with the Tarblooders is not the way to be successful.

PREDICTION: While it is often easy to root for the underdog, in this case that would be a futile effort. Glenville, especially amid the Dwyer controversy, is increasingly focused and out to prove the team is among the 10 best nationally. This game, like the next six for Glenville, should be an easy Tarblooder win. Glenville 36, Anderson 16

-- For more on both teams and Ohio football, visit OhioVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 41 Stony Point vs. No. 70 DeSoto
WR David Porter III (6-0/185, Sr.)
WR Cameron White (6-2/185, Sr.)
WR Austin Vincent (6-1/176, Sr.)
QB Ryan Polite (6-1/201, Sr.)
DT Jordan Wade (6-4/293, Sr.)
LB P.L. Lindley (6-2/225, Sr.)
DB Trevor Caswell (6-1/200, Sr.)
WHEN: Friday 9/17, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: Have not met in the 2000s
STANDINGS: Stony Point (3-0), No. 6 in Texas
DeSoto (3-0), No. 8 in Texas

WHY IT'S BIG: This game has been circled on Texas high school football fans' calendars since it was announced. Both are entering undefeated and ranked nationally in the RivalsHigh 100. The strengths of each team are opposing forces and it should be a great watch. There are rumblings that Texas football is in the midst of a down season and this would be a good showcase to prove otherwise.

BEST MATCHUP: DeSoto offense against the Stony Point defense. The strength of both teams going head to head for the entire game will be compelling. Each unit is loaded with college prospects; which group ends up getting the better of the other will likely dictate the winner of the game.

DESOTO WINS IF: It can do anything on defense. The Eagles' defense has allowed an average of 32 points in its three games - and that hasn't been against competition as good as Stony Point. The offense will score its fair share but if the plan is to outscore everyone, that will catch up to them at some point. That type of football just doesn't win consistently in Texas' largest class.

STONY POINT WINS IF: It knows what it is in for. The team has played two teams from Mexico in its first three weeks and that competition is not nearly what it will face Friday night. The defense, as expected, has been the strong point for the Tigers, allowing 7, 14, and 7 points in each of its first three games. However, and it can not be stressed enough, even playing the best in Mexico is not close to the same as the tops in Texas.

PREDICTION: This is the second pick of the week that goes against conventional wisdom. Stony Point has the better defense. DeSoto the by far better offense. Defense wins championships but offense wins games. Despite DeSoto not looking stellar in its overtime win against Miramar (Fla.) High last weekend, it still has the guns to get this win. DeSoto 34, Stony Point 30

-- For more on these teams and Texas high school football, visit TheOldCoach.com

Weekend Watch
No. 29 De La Salle vs. St. Mary's
QB Mitchell Walding (6-4/185, Sr.)
WR Justin Cox (6-2/180, Sr.)
RB Jalen Ward (5-11/165, Jr.)
De La Salle
DE Dylan Wynn (6-3/234, Sr.)
LB Blake Renaud (6-2/233, Sr.)
RB Lucas Dunne (5-6/173, Sr.)
WHEN: Friday 9/17, 7 p.m.
LAST MEETING: Teams have not met in the 2000s
STANDINGS: De La Salle (1-0), No. 4 in California
St. Mary's (2-0), No. 18 in California

WHY IT'S BIG: De La Salle is the name-brand team in Northern California and is always among the preseason favorites for a state title berth. St. Mary's is trying to bring quality depth into the area and has been able to nudge its way into the NorCal Top 3 (with Sacramento Grant at the No. 1 position). The game may mean more for the underdog than it does for De La Salle - but it's a game the Spartans have to focus on before their national match-up with Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman next week.

BEST MATCHUP: The defense of St. Mary's versus the rushing attack of De La Salle. St. Mary's has had a tough time slowing down opponents and has given up 54 points in two games. Even if De La Salle splits the difference and scores 27, that likely will be more than the Spartans give up. For St. Mary's to hang in the game, it will either need to be a track meet, which is unlikely, or its defense will have to stuff De La Salle on the ground.

ST. MARY'S WINS IF: The defense comes up with some turnovers and gives the Rams a short field a time or two. St. Mary's does have some playmakers with Mitchell Walding, Justin Cox, Alex Mitchell and Jalen Ward on offense. All of them will need to be clicking if there is any hope of an upset.

DE LA SALLE WINS IF: It does not overlook this game. It has happened time and again this season with lookahead games. If De La Salle doesn't prepare to win, it could stumble as well. The bet is that Coach Ladoceur will not let the team fall asleep and the Spartan defense will be ready for battle.

PREDICTION: In some regions of the country, the drop between No. 2 and No. 3 is not too far. This season in Northern California, if you are not Grant or De La Salle, you are going to be hard pressed to matter. De La Salle's defense is going to be overwhelming for the Rams offense and it doesn't appear that St. Mary's will be able to slow the Spartan advance on offense either. De La Salle should be able to celebrate a victory at home on Friday night. De La Salle 30, St. Mary's 13

-- For more on both teams and Northern California football, visit NorCalPreps.com

Weekend Watch
Other Predictions (2010: 18-12)
Game of the Week: No. 62 Plant def. No. 25 Abilene, 20-16
No. 32 Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas def. Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson, 28-20
No. 39 Columbus (Ga.) Carver def. LaGrange (Ga.) High, 22-0*E-mail request*
No. 45 East St. Louis (Ill.) High def. Edwardsville (Ill.) High, 38-10*E-mail Request*
Greenwood (Ark.) High def. Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian, 44-42*E-mail request*
Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge def. Loveland (Colo.) High, 13-6 *E-mail request*
Have your game picked next week: E-mail Dallas Jackson
Game of the Week record: 3-1
2010 Record for all games picked: 21-13

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