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/ Source: StudentSports

Some behind Fridays nationally-televised football game between De La Salle of Concord and Evangel Christian of Louisiana are privately concerned about the Californians bolting out to a huge early lead, creating that dreaded reach for the remote. Read on for more on what to watch for and what ramifications this game could have throughout the U.S.

Players and coaches at De La Salle High of Concord dont have to worry about saying anything this week that might fire up their opponent in this weeks nationally-televised football game against powerhouse Evangel Christian of Shreveport, La.

Someone at ESPN has already done that.

In a phone call earlier this week to Evangel Christian head coach Dennis Dunn by someone connected to the broadcast, it was asked if Dunn could do his best to stay close at halftime. Imagine that? Hinting to a team with two straight Class 5A state championships from a football-crazed state like Louisiana that it may have no chance at all to end De La Salles national record win streak at 144 games.

Those kinds of things, however, do tend to happen when TV broadcasts -- and the critical TV ratings that accompany them -- are connected with high school sports. The De La Salle-Evangel matchup -- which will be played at 5 p.m. on Friday local time at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif. -- is believed to be the first live broadcast nationally of a high school football game and whether similar matchups down the road get put on the TV schedule will, of course, be determined by how many are watching and how long they are watching.

Thinking De La Salle will roll to an easy victory even over a team like Evangel is not a reach, either. People whove followed the Spartans for years cant recall a poor outing theyve ever had at DVC. Theyve also taken on powerful opponents in home games before and won easily -- 42-0 over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in 1999, 34-7 over Mater Dei in 2001 and 28-7 last season over Long Beach Poly. Theres also the factor of all the mind-boggling totals that involve the Spartans. In addition to the 144-game win streak (now twice as long as the second-longest in U.S. history), theres also the 289 straight games in which theyve scored, the 141 consecutive regular season wins since 1989, the 72 consecutive wins as a home team and the 178-1 record since early in the 1989 season.

But there may be even more reasons why the TV producers might be happy on Friday. Factors that favor Evangel being very much in the game at halftime and beyond include:

Two teams the Spartans already have played this year, Palma of Salinas and La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, were within striking distance at halftime, and Evangel certainly seems to be of a higher quality than either of those two opponents.

Evangel has been toughened by a difficult schedule and its junior quarterback, Denny Rodney Duron, has been able to get better and better. If Duron -- who became the starter when John David Booty went to USC a year earlier than he could have and when transfer Geoff Nixon was declared ineligible -- had to go up against this De La Salle defense in only his second or third game, that might have been ugly. Now, at least, he has six games under his feet.

As an underdog in most peoples eyes, Evangel can play as if it has nothing to lose. And after already going up against the likes of Longview, Texas, Rockhurst of Kansas City (defending Class 5A Missouri state champ) and Hoover, Alabama (defending Class 6A state champ), the Eagles have probably played three teams better than anybody else the Spartans will see all year.

When it was announced officially in late August that the De La Salle-Evangel game was going to be nationally-televised, it had to be done with some nervousness by TV executives. Although the two were No. 1 and No. 2 to start the season in the Student Sports FAB 50, it had been announced way back in early May that Booty would not be returning. It also was common knowledge that there could be several stumbling blocks that Evangel would have to clear first before even coming out to California to face De La Salle. The Eagles lost in their second game, 43-26, to Longview, Texas, and then lost again in their fourth game, 21-14, to Hoover.

De La Salle was reportedly the only team perceived by TV executives to have enough national appeal for a national telecast. That may be enough to entice football fans to get a glimpse of the Spartans, but it probably isnt enough to keep those fans tuned in if the score becomes one-sided. Its a much different appeal than when LeBron James and his boys basketball team at St. Mary-St. Vincent High of Ohio played on ESPN2. The TV ratings soared for that one because people were watching a player they knew would be in the NBA in less than a year. No one on the field Friday at DVC will be in the NFL for at least three years and maybe none of them will ever make it.

DE LA SALLE 2003 GRID LOG SO FAR: Defeated Mitty of San Jose, 47-0 (4-3 record); defeated Palma of Salinas, 35-0 (4-2 record); defeated St. Francis of Mountain View, 39-8 (6-1 record); defeated Foothill of Pleasanton, 47-0 (5-1 record); defeated La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, 28-7 (4-2 record); defeated Freedom of Oakley, 63-7 (0-6 record).

EVANGEL CHRISTIAN 2003 GRID LOG SO FAR: Defeated Suwannee of Live Oak, Fla., 45-0 (4-3 record); lost to Longview, Texas, 43-26 (5-2 record); defeated Rockhurst of Kansas City, Mo., 20-19 (5-2 record); lost to Hoover, Ala., 21-14 (7-1 record); defeated Ruston, La., 37-17 (3-3 record); defeated Central of Natchitoches, La., 55-0 (2-5 record).

DE LA SALLE PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB-DB Jackie Bates, who had a 38-inch vertical and ran a 4.34 in the 40 at the Stanford Nike Camp, could miss the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his foot. WR Cameron Colvin, one of the highest-rated nationally as a recruit at his position, finally got some action last week after missing five games due to academic ineligibility. Colvin caught four passes for 67 yards and one TD. Hes come up big in several high-profile games in the past, though, particularly last year in Hawaii against Honolulu St. Louis. With Bates on the shelf, All-American DB Willie Glasper has stepped up at running back and has 55 carries for 349 yards and six TDs. He also has emerged as the teams most dangerous on kick returns. LB Terrance Kelly also has played a lot more as a fullback and has 28 carries for 292 yards and seven scores. Junior QB Kevin Lopina has been excellent running the ball, but has been inconsistent through the air so far. He enters this week with 648 yards and four TDs passing with 203 yards and seven TDs rushing. Linebacker Parker Hanks joins Kelly on defense and the duo has proven to be almost impossible to turn the corner against. Up front, DLS standouts have included Kyle Balough, Mike Pittore, Matt Drazba and Chris Biller.

EVANGEL CHRISTIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH: Two All-American type standouts, FB Jacob Hester and DE Chris Bowers, both sat out last weeks game against Natchidoches Central with injuries. They should be back for this weeks game. Hester is a 6-0, 235-pound muscle-man who has committed to the University of Texas and is reminiscint of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Alstott. Bowers is a sack machine and the rest of Evangels linemen are big and physical. Junior QB Denny Rodney Duron reached 300 yards in a game for the first time last week and his continued improvement gives the Eagles a chance. So far this year, Duron is 107 of 169 for 1,268 yards and 11 TDs. The best receivers for the Eagles have been Connor Campbell (35 receptions, 467 yards, four TDs) and John Parker (27 receptions, 367 yards, two TDs).

CALIFORNIA VS. THE SOUTH: Never before has a California high school football team played one from Louisiana as De La Salle will this week. There have been confrontations with teams from other southern states, though, and the all-time records are as follows: 3-2 vs. Texas (small schools), 2-0 vs. Mississippi (medium school), 0-1 vs. Alabama (medium school), 1-8 vs. Florida (small to large schools) and 1-1 vs. Virginia (large school).

WHAT HAPPENS IF DE LA SALLE WINS: You can start adding up the wins for the rest of the season and basically forget about anybody else being No. 1 in the nation for 2003. Its possible, in fact, that the best team De La Salle might play during the rest of its regular season and playoff schedule is a team (Foothill of Pleasanton) the Spartans have already beaten 47-0. Another 13-0 season would put De La Salles win streak at 151. The De La Salle coaches would never say it, but they would probably take as many opportunities as they can the rest of the season to get valuable experience for second-string juniors. This years team is perhaps more top-loaded with seniors than any in the last 20 years (although QB Kevin Lopina is an obvious exception) and the rebuilding process will need to be addressed as soon as possible, preferably before the current season is done.

WHAT HAPPENS IF EVANGEL CHRISTIAN WINS: The biggest boost isnt going to be from Louisiana folks, but among Texans. If ECA wins, Texas football fans are going to puff out their chests even more humongously than they already do. And for good reason. Evangel, you see, has lost its last two games vs. Longview, Texas, and the Lobos havent been able to beat district rival Lufkin in seven straight tries. We can see the message board fodder clearly: Yall go 144-0 vs. weak competition, then you play somebody from Louisiana, a team that one of our schools has beaten two years in a row, and you lose. Texas football is therefore way better than Cali football. For the record, Lufkin is currently No. 2 in the Student Sports FAB 50, but Los Alamitos (Calif.) currently sits in that spot in USA Today. Also for the record, the nations second-longest current win streak belongs to Independence of Charlotte, N.C. That team has won 55 straight games and this week moved up to No. 10 in the FAB 50. Current University of Florida freshman phenom Chris Leak was the starting QB for the first 46 wins of Independences streak.

MY PREDICTED SCORE: De La Salle 35, Evangel Christian 20 (but I said last year after picking DLS to lose vs. Long Beach Poly that I would never pick against the Spartans as long as the streak is still going strong)