The Bishop Broncos take on the Salesian Mustangs in round two of the CIF football playoffs this Friday on the road. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on KBOV.
So, the question of the hour: can the Broncos win? The answer is one of those frustratingly coach-like responses: the Salesian Mustangs can be beaten. Bishop has the talent, the coaching, every element necessary to come away with an upset over a school seeded just one spot higher in the CIF Northeast Division.
The only real thing this amateur analysis, with a whole bunch of MaxPreps data and not a shred of empirical data, can base the above statement on is the fact the Mustangs havenâ€™t been tested and the Broncos have. Bishop tasted that ugly defeat at Rim of the World; they were battered and bruised by Sierra Canyon and survived to beat Bishops of La Jolla and run undefeated through a much improved High Desert League.
Nevertheless, one continues to search for some mathematical certainty that Bishop will prevail. The Broncosâ€™ only two losses came early in pre-league against tough teams. Rimâ€™s Fighting Scots ended the season 9-2, a record that earned them fourth place in their Division XII. The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers sit on top of their Division XI rankings with a 10-1 record. Both have Points For and Points Against numbers that would strike fear in the hearts of the meek: PFs in the 400s; PAs in the 100s.
Who did the mighty Salesian Mustangs lose to; who put that one stain on their stellar record? The Los Altos Conquerors, thatâ€™s who, by a score of 48-34. Youâ€™ve never heard of the Conquerors? Maybe thatâ€™s because they ended their season at 5-5, 2-4 in the Hacienda League and do not appear on any playoff bracket.
A quick scan of the Mustangsâ€™ schedule reveals a pre-league strategy diametrically opposed to the Broncos. Bishop plays tough teams that make the Broncos better; the Mustangs appear to play schools that make them look good.
The best point of comparison between two teams is common opponents, a mental exercise similar to six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Unfortunately, thereâ€™s no common opponent between the Bishop Broncos and the Los Angeles Salesian Mustangs. One degree of separation can be found in last Fridayâ€™s playoff game between the St. Monica Mariners and the Kern Valley Broncs. The Mariners were trounced by Salesian, 3-41, early in Santa Fe League play; Bishop beat Kern Valley 34-31 in the famous final second; St. Monica knocked KV out of the playoffs with a 28-26 win. Ergo â€¦?
Within its Santa Fe League, Salesian has the largest pool of potential players with an enrollment of 420, all boys. The balance of the private schools in the league are all coed with the largest with enrollments of 574. Translation: Salesian has an enrollment advantage over its league opponents.
Now to the stats. Unlike the more recent opponents for Bishop, the Mustangs do have a passing game with a season total of 2,235 yards compared to Bishopâ€™s 1,499. But, Bishopâ€™s passing game is nearly as efficient as Salesians with 20 TDs compared to the Mustangsâ€™ 22. Bishopâ€™s Kyle Batchelder and Salesianâ€™s Jihad Vercher are within seven percentage points of each other in their passing percentage.
Vercherâ€™s primary receiver is tight end Marquis Ware with 10 TDs and 540 yards. Bronco safeties will have to be on their toes; Vercher goes long.
Batchelder goes wherever his receivers are. Curran Simpson has 10 TDs in 542 yards; Dustin Waasdorp, 5 in 65; Cy Scott, 4 in 389 and Ryan Devore, 4 in 300.
Stats for the ground attack are close between the two teams. Vercher and Batchelder lead their respective offenses in rushing. Both have two backs with big numbers and some very respectable alternatives.
The numbers are eerily similar on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of hits spread out over the squad and no really massive bodies.
All this proves nothing; itâ€™s high school ball where the mental game may be more important than the physical one.