MoCoShow High School Football Game of the Week – Congressional Cup Championship: Churchill at Walter Johnson

In the world of high school football, it’s not uncommon to ponder the “what-ifs” and to wonder how the outcome of early-season matchups might differ if they were played later in the year. While it’s thrilling to have marquee matchups right out of the gate, teams often evolve and improve, making early-season assessments less reliable. Such is the case for Churchill and Walter Johnson, who squared off in Week 1 of the last two-year cycle. Last year, their opening encounter was marked by turnovers and a general sloppiness that clouded both teams’ true potential. Churchill, in particular, faced an uphill battle after that defeat, which led to a string of nine consecutive victories, with Running Back David Avit emerging as a star.

Had they met again later in the season or in the playoffs, the narrative might have been very different. This season, the eagerly awaited rematch is scheduled for the final week of the regular season. Both teams have had time to discover their identity, solidify their strengths, and understand what it takes to secure a victory. Barring any unforeseen twists, the better team should be evident on the field.

Apart from their rivalry and Congressional Cup implications, these teams have followed different paths this year. Walter Johnson’s shift to the 4A North region adds an intriguing layer to the comparison of their opponents and strength of schedule. In this regard, Churchill holds the upper hand with a lone blemish, a 35-0 loss to a dominant Quince Orchard. The Bulldogs put up a valiant fight, suggesting that the gap in talent wasn’t as vast as the score indicated. The Wildcats’ best win comes from a 15-point victory over Paint Branch. Common opponents muddy the waters further, with Churchill having more impressive wins against BCC and Wootton, while WJ showcased strength against Whitman and Richard Montgomery. However, a closer look reveals that WJ’s 22 points allowed to RM pale in comparison to Churchill’s 50, making the comparison a bit elusive.

This matchup promises to be a physical battle, with both teams relying heavily on their ground game. David Avit, a known force for Churchill, requires no introduction. For the Wildcats, Charlie Blessing, who recently returned, alongside Dylan Byrd, will aim to diversify the offensive attack. Expect a low-scoring affair, as both squads boast tenacious defenses built to stifle ball carriers. Churchill excels against the run but has shown vulnerability against the pass, while Walter Johnson’s defense is more versatile, but they haven’t encountered many high-caliber passing offenses aside from Richard Montgomery.

The key to victory likely lies in which team can establish their passing game effectively. Vasi Hallas, Churchill’s quarterback, has shown progress as the season has unfolded, and his ability to create plays and draw attention away from Avit makes him a significant asset. On the other hand, Walter Johnson’s Charlie Blessing, back from a two-game absence, struggled to ignite the offense in the previous encounter with Sherwood.

Considering these factors, Churchill holds the upper hand in this showdown. With an experienced and motivated team, the Bulldogs have been working relentlessly for this opportunity. While Walter Johnson boasts fine athletes, David Avit’s standout performance sets him apart. If both teams find offensive frustrations, Churchill appears better equipped to overcome the challenges. Expect a close contest throughout, with Churchill ultimately emerging as the victor.

Prediction: Churchill by 6

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