The St. John’s Cadets may be one of the top teams in the country and with IMG coming into town on Saturday, they’ll have an opportunity to prove it.
The Cadets began the season 2-0 with convincing wins over Southridge and Deerfield Beach, both schools in Florida. Though victorious, St. John's did not make it through those games unscathed.
A rash of injuries, particularly in the secondary left them vulnerable. St. John’s followed up their hot start with consecutive road losses to nationally ranked competition. They fell in a heart-breaker to Max Preps’ national No. 12 ranked St. Joseph’s Prep (PA), before being outlasted by No.5 Duncanville last week in Texas.
The IMG Ascenders are a perennial powerhouse from Bradenton, Fl. They are one of the most successful programs in high school football. It's not difficult to understand why. They are a prep school explicitly designed to foster the growth and development of student-athletes. In 2018 IMG had 12 players ranked as four or five stars. The class of 2019 had 10 student-athletes ranked in the top two tiers and presently, the class of 2020 has nine players already committed to Power 5 Universities.
The Ascenders are 3-0 this season and over the last five years, they have a combined record of 49-2.
The Cadets are playing what is considered by many experts, the toughest schedule of any team in the country. They are not backing away from the challenge though, in fact, they view each game as part of the developmental process. “When you line up and play, if you know you’re going to win, you’re playing the wrong people," said St. John’s coach Joe Casamento
On Saturday afternoon, the Cadets have another chance to get it right but it will take a team effort.
Defensively, IMG has allowed only one of their opponents to reach double digits. St. John’s has shown they are capable of being prolific on offense, averaging 36 points per game.
BYU commit, QB Sol-Jay Maiava has flashed brilliance with both his legs and arm in frequently connecting on big plays with LSU commit and 5-star recruit, Rakim Jarrett. The Cadets offensive line play has been stellar allowing their two-headed rushing attack of Colby McDonald and Antwain Littleton to be dominant at times.
When healthy, St. John’s touts a top tier front seven. Clemson commit, Tre Williams, Taizse Johnson and company have the ability to control the line of scrimmage, and they will need to do so in order to contain IMG’s sophomore sensation, Kaytron Allen. SJC will look to Mekhail Sherman and Greg Hudgins Jr. to make IMG Quarterback DJ Boney uncomfortable while asking Mordecai McDaniel to limit the opportunities of Ascenders’ WR, Corey Palmer.
At season’s start, Casamento said that "football is like life and life is a challenge. I want my players to be challenged every day."
They’ll face their greatest challenge so far this season Saturday vs. IMG.