It's here. DO or DIE BOWL VIII, presented by Refreshment Services Pepsi, happens tonight in the "cool" of the evening a Flinn Stadium with a now 8:00pm start time. Gates will open at 6:30pm. And yes it will be a little steamier than normal in Mid June but we are fighting back to make our patrons comfortable. We've got a plethora of ice cold water and Pepsi Products on tap. The Quincy Booster Club is providing plenty of outstanding dinner options that you can enjoy under the shade of the Flinn Stadium Parking. And we've now got TCBY in the house to provide delicious frozen yogurt treats for your enjoyment. The sun will be behind the stadium superstructure by 8 pm and we should have a decent breeze blowing to cut through the mugginess. So here's my suggestion: come wearing a Tri State High School Football jersey when you hit the door so you get the three dollar ticket discount, shed it when you hit the stadium, and show up in your most comfortable shorts, swimsuit, what have you. I promise you will be entertained in the best possible football environment.
DO OR DIE BOWL FEARLESS PREDICTIONS
FINAL SCORE: WEST 13
East Offensive MVP: CHAZZ MIDDLEBROOK, Jacksonville
East Defensive MVP: DEANGELO DEAN, Quincy High
West Offensive MVP: MATT LOTER, Clark County
West Defensive MVP: KALEB WHALEN, Hannibal
Rationale: To preface, this is a radical about face. I told friends privately this week going into the DO or DIE BOWL that my prediction was a relatively lopsided 20-7 in favor of the East Squad, based on the personnel groupings and matchups. Lets not mince words, running teams tend to win football All Star games and the East is set up to run the football about as well as any group we've had; with three different waves of stellar running back groups. Too much Chris Jackson. Too much Garrett Kestner. More candidly, I walked into this week suspecting that the West Defensive Line was the weak link in this game and that there was no possible way, without that protection up front, the West's outstanding linebackers and defensive backs would have a chance to make plays. I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. The most stunning revelation of this week for me in practice has been the play of the West D-Line. Look, I knew Tyler Shoemaker at Macon was really good. Beyond that, there were a lot of question marks. Those question marks have been answered in an incredibly positive way. Jon Harder, a kid you've probably never heard of until this week, has been a revelation at Nose Guard. Brice Caldwell has done nothing but make splash plays for four days of practice. And Dalton Jensen hit camp on Wednesday and added a whole different dimension of energy. And suddenly the West's stellar linebacker group is free to make plays. With impunity. And those dudes can flat fly to the football.
Bottom line: I don't think either team is going to move the football on the ground. At all.
At the risk of offense, these are ,at the very least, the two hardest hitting, smartest defenses we've ever assembled.
And I have a funny feeling, the best as well. Tony DeGrave and Brad Dixon have done their work well. These are units which put 11 warriors on the field every down. And we've got splash hitters everywhere, especially among the kids you may not have previous heard much about like Cody McClain, Alex Kaufman, Aaron Wittler, Kaleb Whalen, Kody Karr or might better know for their Offensive Work like Rick Logsdon and Leighton McCabe.
Good luck finding oxygen for a consistent offensive attack on the ground. I don't think its possible.
Make no mistake, for all of our features and ticket selling promos for the offensive weapons in this thing, the Defenses will be the two biggest stars of this game and I think we met set an all time bench mark on that front.
So who does that favor?
The team with the better passing game.
Granted, the West Defensive Line is going to get theirs in pass rush, but I have been amazed at how quickly Seth Williams and Scott Kroeger get rid of the football and create something out of nothing. And even as good as the East Defensive Secondary has been, I don't think it can cover everybody/every down.
I see this game coming down to who makes more big plays because I think big plays will provide the only scoring we see.
And the East Squad has been hit with some critical injuries this week that have stolen at least some momentum at Nose Tackle (Nick Reichert) and one of the teams best playmakers in Dillon Butler.
In that respect, I like the West to win a low scoring, nail biter. Didn't think I would going in. But I have been sold.
So it's now yours gentlemen to prove me right or wrong. Either way, I can't wait.
Because regardless of outcome or how smart or stupid I look, I know these players are going to give us a Battle Royale to remember.
And if you miss it, I can't help you. This week of Football has been astounding.