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COLUMN — Local coaches split on Super Bowl outcome

Super Bowl LV is set for Sunday, Feb. 7, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and it will pit the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (16-2) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-5).

This matchup has been described as the GOAT vs. the Baby GOAT because of the featured quarterbacks.

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, is often described as the GOAT, which stands for Greatest Of All Time.

Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been in the NFL for only four years and has been a starter for only three of them, and yet he has charted such an outstanding trajectory career-wise that he seems to already be making an argument for supplanting Brady as the GOAT.

The inclusion of the word “Baby” in front of GOAT is an acknowledgment that the argument is, of course, premature right now, but it’s clear that if Mahomes can keep up what he has been doing thus far, he should definitely be part of the conversation.

In 2018, Mahomes’ first year as a starter, he threw 50 touchdown passes in the regular season, something Brady achieved in his seventh year as a starter when the New England Patriots went undefeated in the regular season. In 2019-20, Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years, and in 2020-21, he has the Chiefs right back in the big game.

Brady, who left the Patriots this past offseason, is leading the NFC representative in the Super Bowl for the first time in his incredible career. Now at age 43, this is his 21st season in the NFL and 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Is it possible he is slowing down? No. That’s probably just imagination, or perhaps wishful thinking for some. Five of his Super Bowl appearances have been in the last seven years. He hopes to play until he is 45, and he recently said he will consider playing beyond then as well. Except for a torn ACL that ended his 2008 season in Week 1, he has never missed a single game due to injury.

The location of the big game changes from year to year, and this year it happens to be in Tampa, giving the Bucs the distinction of being the first team to ever have the chance to play the Super Bowl at home.

Familiar surroundings may be helpful, but due to COVID-19 the crowd will be much smaller than usual — 22,000, representing about a third of the stadium’s capacity.

I consulted with a few of our area high school varsity football coaches to see who they picked to win Sunday and why.

Larry White

“This is a tough one,” Prince Edward County High School Head Coach Larry White said. “I’m going with Kansas City. I’d like for Kansas City to win it, but it’s going to be hard to go against Brady.”

He praised Mahomes for his toughness, noting he is amazing to watch. He has some good weapons to work with, too, in the form of tight end Travis Kelce and speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

White acknowledged that Brady has good weapons as well but stuck with his pick of the Chiefs.

Ben Manis

Fuqua School Head Coach Ben Manis said he thinks Tampa Bay will win. The two teams played in Tampa in Week 12 of the regular season, and the Chiefs narrowly won, 27-24.

“It’s hard to beat a good team a second time, and then Brady’s a little bit more comfortable in that system, and golly, how many times has he been to the Super Bowl and homefield advantage — all that stuff really stacks up against the Chiefs,” Manis said. “I like the Chiefs a lot. I think they’ve got a great offense but just an adequate defense.”

He said he thinks the Chiefs are still riding the momentum wave of last year, and the Bucs are building momentum.

“That’s all-important in the game of football,” he said.

To me, the Chiefs are the favorites. I was sad to see them beat my San Francisco 49ers last year, but the combination of Mahomes’ ability with playmakers like Hill and Kelce is undeniably potent to an extreme.

Hopefully it is a great game that goes down to the wire.

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.