Super Bowl LVI Preview

By Ryan McKinney

Journalist Ryan McKinney gives us a preview of this year’s Super Bowl, and his prediction as to which team will take home the trophy.

On Feb. 13, the National Football League (NFL) brings us an unusual matchup in Super Bowl LVI. 

The Los Angeles Rams will host the Super Bowl as the team prepares for a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are led by young star and “Comeback Player of the Year” Joe Burrow. During Burrow’s 2021 rookie season, he tore his ACL in Week 11 but went through rehab and came back this season better than ever. Burrow is joined by former LSU teammate and 2022 Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase. This dynamic duo has been unstoppable this season, breaking many records and leading their team to the championship game. 

On the other side of the story, the Rams are led by veteran Matthew Stafford. Ever since leaving Detroit, Stafford has become the perfect leader for the Rams. Stafford is joined by 2022 “Offensive Player of the Year” Cooper Kupp. Kupp has had one of the most spectacular seasons of any wide receiver as he is seeking to break the record for most receiving yards in a single season in this year’s Super Bowl.

On the defensive side of the field, the Rams are led by many veterans including Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd. These defensive players have contributed to the majority of the team’s success. The Bengals defense has struggled a bit this year but is strongly held together by safety Jessie Bates III. 

The Bengals have been upsetting teams throughout the playoffs and defeating top competitors. These teams include the number one seeded Tennessee Titans, and the number two seeded Kansas City Chiefs. Along with the Bengals, the Rams also had a challenging path through the playoffs as it beat the now-retired veteran Tom Brady in the NFC Semifinals. 

These two teams have competed in many tight post season games this year and both seek to win one last game. For example, Cincinnati has beaten two teams this post season, both saved by game-winning or tying field goals. The Bengals season is still alive due to the rookie kicker from the University of Florida, Evan McPherson. McPherson revealed his confidence when he was on the sidelines getting ready to kick what was then the most important field goal of his career. “Looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship,” he said, before kicking the game-winning field goal in the AFC Semifinals game. Los Angeles also competed in a close game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the score went back-and-forth the whole game. The Rams ended up pulling out the win on a game-winning field goal as time expired. 

The Cincinnati Bengals enter the Super Bowl 10-7 as the Number 4 seed in the AFC. On the other side, the Rams record was a little bit better as it went 12-5 but were also the fourth seed in the NFC. These two teams both contain talented players, but only a small number of players have playoff experience. This shows as both team leaders, Burrow and Stafford seek to win their first Super Bowl.

I would love to see a great game between these two talented teams, but I want the Cincinnati Bengals to win the game because of their underdog mentality, and I enjoy the players on this team. Although I want the Bengals to win, I do believe the Rams have the more overall balanced, and better, roster. 

In conclusion, Super Bowl LVI should be an interesting match-up to watch as the youngsters face the veterans to see who can gain their first Super Bowl title.  

Girls Basketball Team Heads into Playoffs

By Aiden Wacksman

After facing a COVID-19 outbreak in January, the Oak Hall varsity girls basketball team has rebounded by winning five of its last six games. 

The team’s first encounter with COVID-19 occurred on Jan. 6 when one player became ill. Just four days later, seven team members also fell ill, and two days after, Head Coach Eric Ringdahl tested positive for the virus. Games were cancelled and the team did not play again until Jan. 20 when it faced the Saint Francis Catholic Wolves. 

“Seven of my 11 players got sick,” Ringdahl said. Any games that were planned to take place at this time were cancelled. This was not the first time, however, that Ringdahl had games called off due to COVID-19 this season. Virus outbreaks on other teams led to several cancellations of the Eagles’ games. “It sucks to cancel games…,” Ringdahl noted. 

The team, however, faced adversity and re-emerged from the virus outbreak with conviction. It managed to outscore its next two opponents, the Wolves and Gainesville Christian Community School, by a combined score of 119-22. The Eagles then faced Eastside and St. John’s Country Day and won both games by scores of 43-38 and 43-33, respectively. The Eagles closed out the regular season with a record of 10-3. 

Ringdahl believes the team has improved in many ways since its 5-3 start to the season. “We have boxed out better and therefore we have become a better defensive team,” he said. Seniors AnnaBeth Dyrkolbotn and Tyla Young have especially stepped up this season. “Our two seniors continue to improve their games and, in many ways, provide fire and leadership,” Ringdahl stated. 

The Eagles played in the 2A District 4 tournament. Thanks to a 48-20 victory against First Coast Christian in the first round, the team clinched a spot in the 2A State Tournament. Its first game is against the 2A District 1 champs Munroe Bobcats at Munroe on Feb. 10.