The moniker "Death Valley" is used to describe a handful of very home team friendly college football facilities. The high school equivalent is in Steubenville, Ohio, home of Harding Stadium and the upcoming "Rally In Death Valley."
Three games will be played consecutively in the 10,000-seat venue, involving Ohio and West Virginia powers.In one of the games Don Bosco Prep's will mett Cleveland's St. Ignatius on Saturday, September 25.
When fans enter the stadium, they'll notice that the stands are perhaps closer to the field than any of the other 'Death Valleys." There's no running track circling the field. In fact, the team benches are actually under the front row of seats, similar to a dugout in a baseball stadium.
Since this game is at a neutral location, the attendance for the Bosco - St. Ignatius game will not approach what we saw in Ramsey, N.J., last September when 8,600 fans crammed Bosco's Granatel Stadium. That same September saw 10,000 fans filled the stands when the Ironmen traveled to Prattville, Alabama.
Those in attendance, and listening on ESPNNewYork.com at 4 p.m., will see and hear two of the best-coached teams in America: Don Bosco the defending national champion, and St. Ignatius the three time national champ('89, '93, '95).
While both teams lost many starters to graduation, it seems the Ironmen have adjusted far better Bosco, ranked eleventh in the country, enters the game 2-0, which includes a 33-6 blowout of nationally ranked Gilman School of Baltimore in the season opener.
Meanwhile, very few can remember the last time the St. Ignatius Wildcats were as embarrassed as they were last week, losing 31-7 to Centerville. St. Ignatius enters the game 2-2, and may be without its starting quarterback Matt Hoyer, who has an undisclosed injury. If Hoyer's last name sounds familiar, it's because his older brother Brian Hoyer is the backup QB for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Once again, Bosco will face a team that has larger offensive and defensive lines. In the season opener, two weeks ago, some of Gilman's linemen outweighed those of Bosco by over 50 pounds. Despite this the Ironmen largely dominated the line.
While St. Ignatius has plenty of beef up front, they also substitute their linemen frequently. That means Bosco's superior conditioning, which enables the Ironmen to dominate virtually every second half, might be challenged.
Look for Bosco to put plenty of points on the board, especially since St. Ignatius lost of its defensive starters to graduation and has just three players returning on offense.
The pick here is Don Bosco by 14 points. This will set up next week for the mother of all tri-state rivalries: Don Bosco Prep versus Oradell's Bergen Catholic.
Bob Galerstein is a "SportsCenter" anchor at 1050 ESPN New York and is the Play-by-Play voice for 1050's high school web casts. You can e-mail Bob at email@example.com.