Game: Mount Paran Christian (7-4) at Holy Innocents (11-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
All-time series: First meeting
Prediction: Holy Innocents 30, Mount Paran 24
A somewhat disappointing 5-4 regular season is being pushed further and further behind Mount Paran as it moves deeper into the postseason.
After barely sneaking into the Class-A Private playoff bracket as the 23rd of 24 seeds thanks to an unexpected regular season record, the Eagles have taken off in the playoffs, putting together a pair of upsets by a combined total of five points.
Ever since the calendar turned to November, the Eagles flipped a switch. They put an end to a three game losing streak against Pinecrest on Nov. 1 and clinched a playoff spot by upsetting Trion in their final regular season game.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said after upsetting Darlington last week. “We’ve had some lows this year, went through a rough stretch. We knew this was going to be a hard game. We’ve been on the road for the past two weeks. I’m just so happy for the team and the coaches, what they’ve been through this year and how they’ve battled back.”
Now, Mount Paran travels to take on the undefeated No. 2 seed Holy Innocents, looking for its third consecutive playoff road upset.
Last week, Mount Paran knocked off the No. 7 seed Darlington on the road 16-13 on quarterback Niko Vangarelli’s second consecutive game-winning touchdown in the playoffs. He scored from four yards out to give the Eagles a three point lead after powering his team down the field with his legs and his arm.
“I’ve seen him grow as a leader, as a player,” Jordan said about Vangarelli before last weeks game. “You’ve got to play well at the quarterback position and right now, he’s doing that.”
Vangarelli has proven in the playoffs what his regular season stats suggested:
he’s the most important player on the Eagles’ roster and his explosiveness makes Mount Paran dangerous. The Princeton commit both passed and rushed for over 1,000 yards in the regular season and now has scored two late touchdowns to see Mount Paran through two tough road playoff games.
Going into the game against Holy Innocents, Vangarelli is up to 1,524 passing yards and 1,917 rushing yards on the season. He carried 31 times against Darlington for 144 yards and threw for another 101 yards.
After scoring 28 points in each of the first two games of the season, Holy Innocents has averaged 43 points per game over the rest of the season. Last week, it defeated the No. 18 seed St. Francis by a final score of 42-3.