The Big Game Has Arrived!
The big game has arrived
OC Statman was right from the beginning, Westlake & Saint Bonaventure were way above the rest of Division 4. At the beginning of the season everybody knew Westlake & Bonnie were both going to be real good but we all had hopes for our own home team but OC without any home team bias picked the two teams that will square off for the championship.
Both Westlake & Bonnie had early victories over perennial power Hart high of Newhall. Bonnie's victory seemed to be the more impressive but Westlake's victory received coach Harrington's seal of approval as being the better of the two. Both teams have been tested and have shown why they belong in the big dance.
I personally have seen both teams play several times this year. My Paso Robles Bearcats feel victim to Westlake last year in the 2nd round in a real barn burner that will be remembered for years to come so I had taken a personal interest in Westlake this season. Anybody who knows me can figure out that I have a love/hate relationship with Bonnie. I love to bang on the Seraphs but I love to watch them play.
Both teams are on the top of their game. Both teams will certainly be examined closely when re-leaguing is considered. Both could easily play up a division or two. Both have been ranked in the top 5 in the state for most of the season. Both are ready to make a statement.
So lets get down to the brass tacks of the ins and outs of the upcoming game between the Seraphs of Saint Bonaventure and the Warriors of Westlake.
What Westlake needs to do to win
Westlake has so many weapons and we will hear some of their names playing big time ball on Saturdays in the years ahead. First and foremost their QB Rudy Carpenter has shown why he is in an elite class of High school QB's. What struck me the most when I watched Rudy was his love for the game and the way he loves to compete. He is a real winner as we would say, a leader for the troops to rally around. Rudy has shown his ability to share the glory and has put the team's aspirations above his own.
Rudy runs well out of the pocket and seems to enjoy mingling it up with opposing teams. Rudy has enjoyed the luxury of having two very fine receivers to put the ball up too. Stuart & Miller are the circus act at 6' 4" & 6' 5". Big targets that can physically take the ball away from any defender. A key to any Westlake victory over Bonnie will be to take advantage of the Stuart/Miller matchups.
Westlake's OL's strongest point is pass protection. Westlake need's to focus on that fact and not try and cram the football down Bonnie's throat. During pass plays Rapoport gives great pass protection in the backfield, Westlake should capitalize on that luxury.
Speaking of running backs, Rapoport dazzled the crowd last night. Now I don't want to take away anything from Mowry but I personally think Rapoport is the better of the two. He runs with power up the middle & he gives better pass protection. On the other hand, Mowry gives life to the outside run. He can turn the corner and that will come in handy when they play the Seraphs. But I'll say it again, the running backs are not going to be the big ticket in beating the Seraphs, it will be the deep ball to Stuart/Miller mixed up with screen passes to Mowry. Using the draw with Rapopart will be profitable from time to time.
On defense Westlake needs to be careful of getting burned deep by Bonnie's speed. Westlake's linebackers will be tested all night long. A key to winning will be to shut down the middle both from running up the middle and the short pass. Without taking control of that middle ground Westlake could be in for a long night.
What Bonnie needs to do to win
Watching Bonnie's players has really grown on me. I often hear from Bonnie fans that the team is like a big family and supports one another. I would agree with that statement. There is something special there, you can see and feel it when your at one of Bonnie's games. Bonnie has great fans and I feel sometimes that the team draws strength from that fact.
Lets start out with Bonnie's QB, Stevens. This is a great kid, the type you hope your daughter brings home to show off to you. First and foremost Stevens is a smart kid. He reads defenses very well and can change the play at the line and make you pay for any mistake you make. Stevens has great numbers and makes very little mistakes. A key to any victory for the Seraphs will be giving Stevens great pass protection. One of the weak points of Stevens is moving out of the pocket, it is essential that good pass protection take place. No pass protection, no victory.
One of the best weapons Bonnie has to use against Westlake will be Matt Lee. They can exploit Westlake by hitting Lee over the middle and then let Lee do what he does best, run right by you. Matt lee has really started to grow on me. This is one tough cookie. I've seen him get hit hard but bounce right back up. Lee's side to side movement has improved this season & along with his speed can be a real force. Another key will be for Bonnie to use Lambert on offense. I would look for him at flanker. Any Bonnie victory will need to have patience. Bonnie has been able to strike quickly this year but I think the best thing Bonnie can do is let Stevens change plays at the line and exploit the situation which will be Lee over the middle for a quick 10 yards.
Both coaches have gone in at the half and made great adjustments. This is a great matchup, one that I will certainly enjoy watching. Several kid's on both sides will play ball on Saturdays. They can talk all they want to about the "Home Depot" matchups in Division 1 & 2 but I tell you, the real show will be in Division 4. This is the game of the week.
I won't pick a winner in this game, they both could win. The team that can exploit the others weakness the best and make the fewest mistakes will win this game. Personally I think Westlake has a little better talent but Bonnie has so much heart. When it comes down to the wire, I would go with the heart!
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