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Coaches: Biff Poggi, Gilman; Greg Toal, Don Bosco Prep
Last meeting: Don Bosco Prep won, 33-6, Sept. 10, 2010.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gilman: LB-TE Micah Kiser, Sr.; DL-TE Henry Poggi, Sr.; QB Shane Cockerille, Sr.; LB-RB Miles Norris, Sr.; LB-RB Wyatt Dickerson, Sr.; WR-DB Matt Tilley, Sr., DB-WR Troy Vincent Jr., Jr.; DE-TE Melvin Keihn, Jr.
Don Bosco Prep: DE Alquadin Muhammad, Sr.; LB Spencer Scannell, Sr.; DL Razohnn Gross, Sr.; OL Sean Carey, Sr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Don Bosco Prep, from Ramsey, N.J., makes its second trip to Baltimore in three years to play the Greyhounds. Bosco graduated 18 starters from last year's team that finished No. 1 in USA Today's Super 25, but Biff Poggi said that doesn't matter much.
The Ironmen, riding a 46-game win streak, control play with a physical running game, and the Greyhounds coach said his team can't afford any mistakes if it wants to stay close.
"If we don't play physical and we don't tackle, it's going to be a really long night at Navy," Biff Poggi said.
Bosco's 6-foot-4 junior quarterback Frank Nutile suffered a dislocated elbow in last weekend's scrimmage, but it was not his throwing arm, and Toal said he will be ready to go. According to CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, Nutile is Bosco's best offensive weapon, and he likely will be key to the outcome with only two returning starters on offense for the Ironmen.
Defensively, the Ironmen also return only two starters, led by Muhammad, a four-star prospect with offers from Notre Dame, Michigan and Boston College, among others, according to Rivals.com.
While the Ironmen open their season against Gilman, the Greyhounds are coming off losses to two nationally-ranked teams, Archbishop Moeller from Ohio on Aug. 26, and Maryland's No. 1 team Good Counsel, 20-19 in overtime last Friday. Two years ago, the Greyhounds beat Good Counsel just before playing Bosco.
Even though the Ironmen took a huge hit from graduation, including losing four All-Americans, and aren't in this year's Super 25, don't expect any drop off, Biff Poggi said.
"They may be the best of the three teams we've played so far," he said.
Toal, whose team won a sixth straight state title last fall, said he's concerned that the Greyhounds have played two games while his team has only scrimmaged. Still the longtime coach likely would not have scheduled an opening four-game stretch that also includes trips to St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Alta in Utah if he didn't expect the Ironmen to be competitive.
The Greyhounds have a solid returning group, especially on defense where they're led by Henry Poggi (Michigan) and Kiser (Virginia). Cockerille (Maryland) brought Gilman back in the second half of the Moeller game as they cut a 28-0 lead to 28-14 before falling, 35-14. In both the Moeller game and the Good Counsel game, key mistakes tripped the Greyhounds.
"In progression, we had not a great first half against Moeller and we had a great second half," Biff Poggi said. "We had a much better game against Good Counsel. We played a full 48 minutes and except for just a few errors that I think are correctable, we could have won that game. Our goal was to get better every week and we've gotten better each half."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Severna Park at No. 6 Old Mill, Friday, 6:30
No. 7 Catonsville at Perry Hall, Friday, 7
No. 15 South Carroll at Patuxent, Friday, 7
No. 2 Calvert Hall vs. DeMatha at Navy, Friday, 7:30