The playoffs are set and both Academic Athletic Association semifinal games are rematches of the final week of the regular season, which ended in lopsided scores. This time around, though, the stakes are higher and the winners will meet on Thanksgiving for the AAA championship.
Top-seeded Galileo will play host to Lowell and defending champion Lincoln will take on Mission in a rematch of last year’s championship game.
“We knew we were going to probably play them twice and we didn’t run everything because of that,” Mission coach Joe Albano said. Lincoln shutout Mission 34-0 last week and the Mustangs have now won four straight games heading into the postseason.
“We treat it like any other game,” Lincoln coach Phil Ferrigno said. “Do what got you in. We’re excited to play in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, the Bears had won five straight prior to last week’s loss to the Mustangs.
“I really felt after our Lowell game that it was our best game of the year,” Albano said. “For the Lincoln game, we were flat. We were playing slow, sluggish. We really didn’t give them much of a competition.”
Albano said he believed his team had a good week of practice, but did not bring a sense of urgency to the game, which concerned him.
“Last week I told [our players] we’re lucky we have a second chance at these guys,” Albano said. “They know it’s win or go home.”
The weather could wind up playing as much of a factor as anything.
“If it stays this way,” Albano said of the rainy weather, “it’s going to benefit them for sure.”
Lincoln’s run-heavy attack should not be affected by expected sloppy field conditions and last week Tyree Marzetta and Davion Telfor combined for 332 yards against the Bears.
“We got to make sure we’re in the right spots and make plays,” Ferrigno said.
Galileo also had its way last week with Lowell and put up 57 points on the Cardinals.
Senior quarterback Kyle Nelson threw for 355 yards, four touchdowns on 17-for-18 passing and tacked on 69 yards on the ground.
“He commands his offense, he has poise,” Lowell coach Danny Chan said. “It’s really beating that guy on offense.”
But Lowell had its chances and led 21-20 in the first half before Galileo came out and capitalized on two interception returns for touchdowns.
The Galileo defense has not been as strong coming down the stretch. They have allowed at least 22 points in each of the last three games after allowing more than 20 points three times in the first eight contests.
Lowell has lost back-to-back games and is stumbling heading into the playoffs. The Cardinals, however, get another chance to figure out how to stop the Galileo offense, which has not scored fewer than 36 points all season.
Lowell at Galileo, 2 p.m.
Mission at Lincoln, 2 p.m.