Looking at the Explorers
The Explorers of La Salle are coming off one of their best performances of the season yet, on both offense and defense. On the offensive side of the ball, Quarterback Chris Ferguson threw for 185 yards completing 12 of 23 of his passes. He hit everybody last week and really exposed the St. Joe's secondary. It was probably one of his best outings of the season. For the receiving core, both Winston Eubanks and Charles Headen were all over the field. Although Headen hasn't been really involved in the passing game this year, he really showed up on Saturday catching four passes for 67 yards including a 26-yard TD pass from Ferguson late in the first quarter. Eubanks also had a big day proving he is back from injury without a problem. He caught five passes on 76 yards. Furthermore, Sr. Nick Rinella will be their in the slot for Ferguson and their on screens. He caught the game winning TD catch with :49 seconds left vs. St. Joe's. Now back to quarterback, Isaiah Jones was the other key piece that will be very pivotal this week. Against the Prep, Jones converted a key 3rd down and long on the Explorers game winning drive. He also used the QB draw very effectively and will most likely use it plenty this week. In order to win this week, La Salle will need to play hot from the first snap to the last. They need to play a full four quarters on the ground, in the air, and on defense. Furthermore, Jr. Syaire Madden will be the final crucial part to this offense. He will likely lead the forces with plenty of snaps this week. Look from him and Rinella to be in the endzone a good bit. Lastly, the offensive line really held their own the way they have been all year. The allowed Ferguson and Madden plenty of time and didn't allow a single sack. Note: Vicenzo Pelusi (OL) will be OUT for this week's game with a right foot injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Explorers played fantastic last week. Despite letting up 28 points, they held D'Andre Swift to only 18 yards on 12 carries. They were led by Sr. Jared Walls who really set the tone when he returned a 48 yard interception for a touchdown early on. Sr. Walls, So. Austin Lemke, and Sr. Kohler Setley shutdown the middle half of the field and made Prep's Shaw afraid to throw the ball as the game went on. At the line, Sr. Anthony Piscopo and So. Toph Maloney hammered Shaw and the run game, including making key tackle's for losses. This week versus Gratz, they will be sure to have their hands full on the ground and on special teams. Also, Gratz better look out for So. Austin Lemke. Apparently, he knocked a St. Joe's Prep player's tooth out last weekend. (See photo at bottom of page)
Looking at the Bulldogs
Don't get me wrong, Simon Gratz is a scrappy mean football team. The main part of the offense in the run game. On the ground, they are led by Sr. Luke White. The 5 - 8, 175lb senior led the team to their 54-18 rout of Northeast last weekend. White helped with 221 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Speedsters Qashah Carter and Dedrick Parson were also electric with the ball.Carter caught four passes for 76 yards and Parson rushed five times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. The Explorers need to be very careful on special teams this week as Parsons returned a 95 yards kickoff for a TD and Gratz has been very good on punt and kickoff returns this year. They are speedy, fast, high energy, and will run you around the field. Furthermore, Gratz has some pretty big linemen including Raquan Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 335-pound two-way lineman. He dominated both sides of the ball, paving the way for a ground attack that finished with 323 rushing yards against Northeast and
over 200 yards against Central in the Public League semi-final. At the quarterback position, Sophmore Amir Gillis leads the Bulldogs. Although they do not often throw the ball, the 5-10, 195lb kid will throw out of the play action a lot and will often roll out for the run. As I said, Gratz is mainly a running team and will seldom throw the ball. Look for the Bulldog's to be scrappy on the ground and pound the La Salle defensive line all game.
After looking at the Explorers and at Gratz on paper and on film, only one team stands out. La Salle. The Explorers have played phenomenally in recent time and doesn't plan to let up until December 20th. They will hold Gratz on the ground and won't be pushed around. Madden will be a powerful force on the ground and Ferguson and Jones will pick up where Madden leaves off. The Explorers will shutdown the Bulldog defense. I'm calling it 27- 16, La Salle on top.
Be sure to come out the Northeast High School on Saturday at 12:00 to catch the District 12 AAAA Championship between La Salle and Simon Gratz. Can't make it to the game? The SFBN will be streaming the game live for $5 if you click here. Also be sure to follow along with @LaSalle_Sports on twitter for live game updates and be sure to check back to the site for future game previews. Also,
La Salle Basketball is starting up soon so be sure to look for a season preview this week.
- Christopher Sanders
Follow Chris on Twitter @sandman285
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports