Prediction made for 2A state title game.
HOOTENS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK No. 1 Hazen vs. No. 2 Junction City
These teams met for the 2014 Class 2A championship with Junction City winning 38-6 for its third consecutive state title and its sixth in a 12-year span.
Junction City returned to the state title game last year in Class 3A but lost 48-14 to Rivercrest. Hazen is 0-3 all-time in state final appearances.
Junction City's offensive line, spearheaded by senior guard Cody Adkins, averages 295 pounds and clears lanes for senior running back Dhante Gibson (1,580 yards, 22 touchdowns) and junior running back Jakiron Cook (1,118 yards, 17 touchdowns).
While Junction City often spreads the field to run, junior quarterback Brady Hutcheson has bolstered Junction City's passing numbers the past three weeks by completing a combined 19-of-23 attempts for 425 yards in blowouts of Mountainburg (50-14) and Des Arc (55-13) and a dominating 40-20 win last week over defending Class 2A champion Foreman.
Junction City’s 5-2 defense has tightened behind senior defensive lineman Semaj Levingston (46 tackles, 6 1/2 tackles for loss), senior linebacker Jvacye Cook (74 stops) and sophomore Tanner Barnett (team-high 85 stops).
Junction City allowed 103 points in its first three games. It has allowed 94 points (9.4 points per game) in the 10 games since.
Hazen counters with linemen (on both sides) who average 240 pounds.
Senior left tackle Cade Perry and 260-pound center Jackson Shelman spearhead an O-line that has paved the way for 362 (mostly rushing) yards per game.
Junior running backs Ay'Jon Green and Tarrall Penn have both topped 1,400 yards this season while voluntarily splitting the carries every week. A week ago, Hazen trucked Mount Ida for 351 yards in a 42-0 blowout.
An aggressive Hazen defense allows just 136 yards and eight points per game.
Perry averages 15 stops a week at middle linebacker, while Shelman, 240-pound Blayne Toll and 230-pound nose guard Jake Walker anchor the interior line.
Hootens.com correctly picked one of two semifinal games (50 percent) last week.
Hootens.com has picked 228 of 284 (80 percent) for the season.
WEEK 15 CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION (favored team in CAPS followed by point spread)
HAZEN (6) vs. Junction City: See Game of the Week.