Where's the love?
When are Evans' boys and Greenbrier's girls teams going to get some statewide respect?
The Knights are off to the best start in school history at 17-3. Their losses were by a combined 11 points, and one was in overtime. Evans may not be one of the 10 best teams in the state; however, all the Knights can do is beat the teams on their schedule, and they have done that in convincing fashion.
In the latest AAAA State Coaches Poll there were four teams with four losses each. Yet Evans sits at 17-3 with no ranking. For years, most statewide polls seem to be "Atlanta heavy." This bias has never really bothered me much, but I just wish the truly deserving teams would get the appropriate recognition.
Evans deserves to be ranked. That may change later in the season. But as of right now they are a top 10 team, even if our flawed statewide polls don't reflect it.
Greenbrier's argument is even more solid. The Lady Pack finished 23-8 last season and advanced to the State's Elite Eight. They returned virtually everyone from that squad, including two of the state's top players in Melissa Lewis and Michelle Swiec. Oh, by the way, Greenbrier is 17-1 this season. Only one team in the AAAA Rankings has a better mark: No. 1 St. Pius (they are 18-1).
There is not a debater on the planet who can convince me that there are 10 better teams in AAAA than the Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack. But the ladies shoud keep their heads up. The lack of recognition will make it even more sweet when they make another state tourney run this season.
I never thought I'd make this statement, but here it goes: The two road teams will win their respective conference titles this week. The NFL playoffs seem to come down to who's hot. And who is hotter than Carolina and Pittsburgh right now? The answer is simple: no one.
The Steelers have won six consecutive games. In the regular season they ended Chicago's six-game winning streak and Minnesota's five-game run in the span of two weeks. Also, they have picked up consecutive road playoff wins. First they went to Cincinnati and won convincingly, and then they knocked off the heavy Super Bowl favorite, Indianapolis, in their own building.
If Pittsburgh gets a lead against Denver, it's over. No team plays better with a lead than the run-happy Steelers.
Pittsburgh 24, Denver 20
In the NFC, the story line is very similar. Carolina has become road warriors. They have the NFL's most explosive player (at least this season) in Steve Smith, and quarterback Jake Delhomme is as good as any signal caller, aside from Tom Brady, in big games. They will need third-string running back Nick Goings to play well with injuries to Stephen Davis and Deshon Foster.
Seattle had a terrific season, but if you look a little closer you may favor the Panthers as well. Seattle beat only three playoff teams during the regular season, and their star running back, Shaun Alexander, is coming off a concussion last week. Also, their quarterback, Matt Hasselback, was below average last week against Washington, and Carolina's defense is a notch above the Redskins.
Carolina 27, Seattle 17
I'll give you my Super Bowl pick next week, but you who know me realize it will be tough for me to pick against Pittsburgh. When the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV in January of 1980, I never dreamed I'd have to wait 26 years before they won another title. I pray that I do not have to struggle through another long season without that fifth Super Bowl Ring.
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