2. ST. THOMAS
AQUINAS (1-0) AT
AT 3. CYPRESS BAY (1-0)
7 p.m., Friday.
St. Thomas has dominated this series for years, but this could be the closest game yet.
Aquinas made numerous mistakes last week against Miami Columbus before finding some rhythm on offense and making big plays on special teams to pull out the victory.
Quarterback John O’Korn showed his passing skills and toughness running the football last week against the Explorers to help the Raiders rally from a 21-10 deficit.
Fred Coppet, one of the top backs in the state, used some tough running as well, and Aquinas’ secondary — led by Chris Washington — made some key plays.
But Aquinas can’t afford a similar slow start against Cypress Bay.
The Lightning has opened up its offense to feature a sharp passing attack led by quarterback Jaranta Lewis and receiver Alex Montgomery. But if coach Mark Guandolo’s team gets a decent lead, the Lightning is quite capable of going to its ball-control ways behind running back Matt Dayes.
Two weeks in a row of poor early play by Aquinas isn’t likely. The Raiders will figure out a way to get through.
Andre’s pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 24, Cypress Bay 21.
17. BLANCHE ELY (1-0)
AT 5. MIRAMAR (0-1)
7 p.m., Friday.
Miramar walked off the field at Manatee looking deflated.
Its young squad was eager to prove it was still among the state’s best.
Although the score didn’t show it, the Patriots showed glimpses of why this team will be in the thick of it by season’s end.
Miramar has a solid running game led by senior Alex Lee that should be able to establish itself against pretty much every team on its schedule this season. If the Patriots can do that consistently, they will set up the passing game for a solid quarterback in Nick Jeanty and a good group of receivers led by Sean Avant.
On defense, linebacker Jermaine Grace is the leader, but several other players stepped up early against Manatee and handled the initial stages of playing in a hostile environment.
The key for Miramar is finishing, something it will learn to do with time.
Ely overcame a rough start last week against Stranahan thanks to its star cornerback Rashard Robinson, an LSU commitment. Robinson had a touchdown reception, intercepted a pass that set up a touchdown and returned a punt for a touchdown.
But Robinson and talented young quarterback Tyquan Fields need a better start to even have a chance against Miramar. The Patriots need some experience, but they proved in Bradenton that it’s a matter of time before they become the state’s best again.
Andre’s pick: Miramar 28, Blanche Ely 7.
AT JACKSONVILLE BOLLES (1-0)
7 p.m., Friday.
Last season without Sony Michel and still figuring out its strengths and weaknesses, the Patriots hung tough with Bolles at home before losing 28-17.
Going on the road with a healthy Michel and a veteran-led group gives the Patriots the potential to pull off an upset that would get the state’s attention.
If American Heritage wants to prove it can contend for the Class 5A state title, this is the moment to show the state why.
Andre’s pick: American Heritage 20, Bolles 17.