Gametime Predictions

by Eric Gilmore

1st Quarter - Who is the second best high school team in the east?

            Answer: Jack Britt High School


 J.H. Rose has established their reign as the best high school team east of Wake County. After watching 11 teams through the Hardee’s High School Game of the Week, the Rampants have the best squad bar none.

But who is the second best team? The New Bern Bears would undoubtedly claim their right to the throne beside Rose. The Bears have beaten Rose the last two seasons, but are fighting for respect.

The Bears had a season opening 39-20 loss to Mount Tabor. The Spartans are currently No. 2 in the state touting Virginia commitment O.C. Wardlow. Since the Mount Tabor game, New Bern has pierced through five consecutive blowouts.

Aside from New Bern, only a couple of teams can find a compelling argument. Jack Britt can make a case. Fresh off a trip to the 4-A state championship game, the Buccaneers are undefeated. Richard Bailey’s team is ranked No. 5 in the state.

Unlike New Bern, Jack Britt has had to earn each victory. The Bucs inched out a 3 point win over visiting E.E. Smith. Provided the Bucs continue to stay undefeated, they have a test in the last game of the season. Former ECU head coach, Ed Emory will lead Richmond Co. into Fayetteville for the last game of the regular season.

The area’s best 3-A teams are matched-up this week in Rocky Mount. The Gryphons take on Raymond Cobb’s undefeated Southwest Edgecombe squad. Even though Rocky Mount is 5-1, they played the Rampants to a 35-20 loss. Something they consider a minor victory.

2nd Quarter - Who is the front runner for the Heisman?

Answer: Vince Young

It depends on how one determines their Heisman pick. Is it the best player in college football or the most valuable player of a team? Yes, Matt Leinart won the esteemed trophy last season. But that doesn’t mean he’s a lock again in 2005. Remember Jason White?

Leinart isn’t Jason White. He actually has two knees and a rocket for an arm. Actually, Leinart has rockets in every position of USC’s offense. He has the best running tandem in Reggie Bush and Lendale White. He has five star recruits in wideouts Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett.

Vince Young’s offensive talent pool isn’t exactly a barren wasteland. Texas’s offense is predicated on Young’s athleticism. His athletic ability helps make Texas two-dimensional. He sliced up Ohio State’s defense and hasn’t looked back.

Young has 780 yards passing and 310 on the ground. He’s thrown for seven touchdowns and run for two. Texas hasn’t gotten to the teeth of their schedule yet. Outside of the Buckeyes, the Longhorns have rolled over opponents. The Red River Shootout this weekend should provide a stage for the junior quarterback.

Reggie Bush is another frontrunner. The USC running back is so dynamic out of the backfield running or receiving. Bush’s problem is that he may not be the best running back on his team. Bush had 158 yards against Arizona State last week, but Lendale White had 197.

Other players to consider are DeAngelo Williams of Memphis, Laurence Maroney of Minnesota, Derek Hagan of Arizona State, Marcus Vick of Virginia Tech, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame and D.J. Shockley of Georgia.

3rd Quarter - Who will win the NFC South?

Answer: Atlanta Falcons


The old NFC West used to be one of the hardest divisions in football. Every division ebbed and flowed, but the Saints, Rams, Falcons, 49ers and Panthers were some of the league’s best teams. All good things come to an end as realignment formed the NFC South.

Again, it remains one of the premier divisions. This year’s reemergence of the Buccaneers makes the playoff picture even foggier. The division champion will be decided on Week 17. But who will be the winner?

Again, it’s the Atlanta Falcons. When motivated, the Falcons have the best team in the division. Michael Vick is the most dynamic quarterback in the league. Atlanta takes on New England this week at their most vulnerable state. The lowly N.Y. Jets follow the Patriots on the Falcons’ schedule.

The Buccaneers don’t have enough power offensively to inch out the division. Carnell Williams and Michael Pittman have been a lethal force on the ground. But the Bucs lack depth at wide receiver. Brian Griese is not the quarterback of the future and will falter down the stretch.

The Panthers have a solid squad, but not a great one. Carolina needs a second wide receiver to step up outside of Steve Smith. They are also missing Colin Branch, the starting free safety hurt in the preseason. Stephen Davis lacks the speed he had in 2003.

The Saints have the most talented offense in the league. The erratic Aaron Brooks can’t seem motivate his team every week. They play like gangbusters one week and try to mirror the 49ers the next.

The Falcons have experience. They have heady play from their quarterback, something the other teams can’t boast. If Vick gets hurt, the team will plummet again. See 2003. But if Vick stays healthy, the Falcons will host their first playoff game.

4th Quarter - Who will take the blame for N.C. State’s loss on Thursday?

            Answer: No one,  N.C. State wins

N.C. State will pack it in Carter-Finley for a national TV match-up against Georgia Teach again on Thursday. This one will be different from the Wolfpack’s two home losses. N.C. State has had too time to prepare and superior talent.

The Wolfpack are coming off a bye week. The Chest has been taking the brunt of the criticism for N.C. State’s early blunders. He has built expectations, but has yet to be able to live up to them. Thursday, he will beat his Chest in front of the home fans.

Georgia Tech got walloped 51-7 by Virginia Tech. Their mental makeup is fragile. Reggie Ball is recuperating from viral meningitis. Most importantly, the Yellow Jackets are on the road.

N.C. State simply has too much talent to continually concede games. If offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will go against his short passing game and switch to a power running attack, Toney Baker could have a coming out party. The Ragsdale native will be thrust onto the national scene after a three touchdown performance.

If Chan Gailey could steal the game on the road, a 4-1 Georgia Tech gets Duke at home. It’s not going to happen tonight. The Wolfpack have too much riding on it. So does the Chest. If for some reason Georgia Tech pulls it out, run Chest run.

Overtime - What will be the score for the ECU vs. Rice game?

            Answer: ECU 34, RICE 20

Why? Just cuz. Don’t be shocked to see Rice move the ball against ECU’s defense especially early. The team that scores first will win.

Eric Gilmore