The sister schools visiting Rio Tinto Stadium this weekend for the Xfinity Challenge are a mystery to most of the home crowd. What is there to know about St. John Bosco (Calif.) and Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)?
Well, they are both Salesian schools, which means that the Roman Catholic officials from both programs are excited to unite from different coasts, the coaches say. But besides that, what are these schools like on the field?
Yesterday, we looked at St. John Bosco. Today, the Ironmen.
Don Bosco Prep (2-1)
A two-time national champion in just the last four years, according to USA Today? Yeah, that tells you a lot about this New Jersey powerhouse.
Don Bosco oozes success, especially in the last decade - they've played in every state championship game in their division since 2002, and have produced a solid streamline of Division I prospects.
This year, the Ironmen broke a 46-game winning streak with a loss to Maryland stalwart Gilman, but they flashed their potential with some recent wins over St. Thomas Aquinas (Fl.) and DePaul (N.J.). Could Bosco be back for another big season?
"You don't get too many good lessons in a loss," coach Greg Toal says. "But you have to evaluate it, reload, and decide how you're going to get better."
One area it doesn't look like the Ironmen need work is defense. Led by Alquadin Muhammad, a fierce end who is one of the top pass rushers in the nation, Bosco hasn't allowed more than two touchdowns in any game this year. Muhammad leads with the pressure, but there's a capable set of linebackers who have also made an impact, especially in getting turnovers than helped Bosco beat Aquinas.
Still, Toal sounded nervous about Alta throwing the ball around to its touted receiving corps. Harrison Handley, Ammon Barker and Mack Richards are all tough match-ups.
"It's a special group," he said. "They're a very good passing team, and have done a great job. It's going to be a heck of a game trying to defend those guys."
Bosco offense has looked hot and cold at times this season with new quarterback Frank Nutile under center. Most recently, it was hot, as Nutile threw for three touchdowns in a 62-14 blowout. He'll hand off to Elijah Hanks at tailback and throw to Isaih Hill and Tom Sweeney in the receiving corps.
One match-up Alta could look to exploit is on the line, where the Ironmen don't have a blocker over 245 pounds. But Hawks coach Bob Stephens said the offensive front is smaller but sound technically, so it won't be a cakewalk.
Check out the above video by Mark Ahrens to see Don Bosco in action against Aquinas.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon