The Thanksgiving holiday week is upon us. The upcoming weekend in many states will be the last one without high school wrestling -- except for holiday shutdowns where applicable -- for approximately three months. After this, it's all systems for wrestling. However, for this weekend, let's shift the focus onto the gridiron where there are many with wrestling ties making noise.
Bergen Catholic vs. St. Joseph Montvale
Two of the nation's top 25 high school wrestling programs are meeting at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night for the New Jersey state title in Non-Public Group 4. In addition, these two teams hold the top two positions in the statewide media poll in the Garden State.
Two projected upper-weight starters are significant contributors to the football success of St. Joseph Montvale, which is ranked No. 22 nationally in wrestling to start the season. Projected 182-pound starter Frank Monte is a linebacker, who last year as a freshman lost a go-to-state match at the regional tournament. Projected 285-pound starter Luke Wypler is a four-star recruit as an offensive guard, who has already verbally committed to Ohio State for the Class of 2020; in 2017-18, Wypler was a backup on the wrestling mat to state quarterfinalist Brian Sidle. In addition, 220-pound starter Michael Toranzo -- who made state last year as a freshman -- is also on the football team.
For Bergen Catholic, which is ranked No. 3 nationally in wrestling, the starters at 220 and 285 pounds are part of the football team. Junior Gabe Mendez is listed as an offensive lineman, while John High is a key contributor on the defensive line; High qualified for state in wrestling last season. The obvious big name from a wrestling/football perspective is top-100 overall wrestling senior Josh McKenzie, who committed to Yale as a running back; however, his senior football season has been clouded by injury, and participation in wrestling would be characterized as doubtful.
St. Edward seeks fourth state title this decade
In wrestling, championships and St. Edward go hand-in-hand. It is kind of similar in football as the Eagles seek a fourth state title in nine years; they won their first in 2010 and have won two others since (2014 and 2015). Friday night, St. Edward will be playing in their fifth state semifinal game over the last nine seasons. Three members of the No. 5 in the nation wrestling team play key roles on the football squad.
Returning state medalist Seamus O'Malley, who signed with Stanford to wrestle, starts at defensive end; the projected 220-pound starter has overcome an injury to be an absolute terror against both the run and pass. A pair of juniors Nick Lisco and Brian Kilbane, both of whom were backups last year on the wrestling mat also play key roles on the football team; projected 195-pound starter Lisco is part of the defensive line rotation, while projected 285 pound starter Kilbane plays right tackle.
Broken Arrow seeks elusive state football title
The largest school by enrollment in the state of Oklahoma has been a perennial contender in football with state titles in many other sports, including four individual tournament state titles this decade in wrestling (2010-2012, 2015); there are also dual team titles in 2011 and 2014 on the resume. However, in almost 115 years of existence, Broken Arrow has never won a state football title.
One week from Friday the 12-0 football team, which features the back six projected wrestling starters on the squad, are favored to break the schneide; the Tigers will be playing Jenks at Tulsa University for the Class 6A-1 title.
Senior Noah Cortes, who qualified for state last year as an undersized 285, is in his second year as a featured running back for the Broken Arrow squad. Linebackers Gavin Potter and Zach Marcheselli are both multi-time state wrestling champions for the Tigers, and each has verbally committed to a Big XII school. Starting 195-pound wrestler Potter, a two-time state champ, will be attending Kansas State; while starting 220-pound wrestler Marcheselli, a three-time state champ, will be attending TCU.
Also part of the linebacker group is junior Zeno Marcheselli, the projected starter at 182 pounds; fellow junior Bryce Mattioda, a two-time state placer, is the projected starter at 170 and is a starting defensive back; while fellow junior Tye Rozell, the projected 160-pound starter, is listed on the roster as a wide receiver and defensive back.
Garcia brothers anchor Southern Columbia football powerhouse
While the presence of three high-major college recruits will rule the day from a football perspective when talking about Southern Columbia football, for purposes of this feature the impact of Gaige and Gavin Garcia carries the most oomph. The Garcia brothers are top-20 overall wrestlers in their respective grade levels nationally, both featuring at running back on a team that seeks a third Pennsylvania Class 2A football title in four seasons.
The Tigers have made it to the state quarterfinal round with a 13-0 record, where they will play York Catholic this Saturday. Two-time state medalist Gaige is ranked No. 20 overall in the Class of 2020. His statistical summary for three seasons is the following:
2018: 157 carries, 1552 yards, 30 TD; 11 receptions, 215 yards; 2 kickoff return touchdowns
2017: 199 carries, 2306 yards, 37 TD; 31 receptions, 448 yards, 6 TD; 1 kickoff return touchown
2016: 162 carries, 1938 yards, 31 TD; 10 receptions, 113 yards; 1 TD
His younger brother Gavin is ranked No. 11 overall in the Class of 2022, and enters high school winning six PJW titles in seven years, including a junior high title this past year. In his freshman football season, Gavin has jumped into the Tigers offense with much aplomb: 88 carries, 970 yards, and 19 TD; plus 6 receptions for 131 yards.