1. BOOKER T. (1-0)
VS. 4. CENTRAL (0-1)
7 p.m., Sun Life Stadium, Saturday.
Last week, I tabbed this as the Game of the Year in Miami-Dade County. Despite Central’s debacle last week in Georgia against Grayson, I’m sticking by that assessment.
The move to Sun Life Stadium should make this an even more fun game to watch and draw a decent crowd because the game will not be broadcast on national TV like most games involving some of the nation’s top teams.
The Rockets will try to move past a defeat in which they learned nothing other than kicker Emilio Nadelman is really good. His 51-yard field goal saved Central from a shutout in a game in which it was held to fewer than 60 total yards and just 4 passing.
The Rockets will have to find more balance against a Tornadoes defense that will attack them early and often and dare them to throw. If Central can establish its running game and find the end zone early, it has a chance to win this game and silence its critics.
But for Booker T. Washington, this is a chance to stake its claim to the top spot among nationally ranked teams in South Florida. If the Tornadoes’ balanced offense can avoid turnovers, it should be just enough to get them past this tough early contest.
Andre’s pick: Booker T. 21, Central 17.
8. COLUMBUS (0-1)
VS. BELEN (0-1)
7:30 p.m., FIU Stadium, Friday.
The tailgating, bands and the rivalries among childhood friends and adults will rekindle this weekend for this annual classic.
Both teams, however, are in unfamiliar territory, with each coming off a loss in the first week of the season.
Columbus took some solace in the fact that a team with inexperience in certain key areas looked good at times against St. Thomas Aquinas and nearly pulled off the upset.
Belen gave up big plays to Hialeah, surrendering a rare loss at home, its first since the end of the 2010 season against University School.
With the high intensity and internal pressure on both sides to win, expect this game to be close early. But the difference will be players such as Daryl Chestnut and Jesus Wilson, who looked amazing last week. And unfortunately for Belen, they both wear Columbus uniforms.
Andre’s pick: Columbus 24, Belen 10.
10. NORTHWESTERN (1-0)
VS. 11. NORLAND (1-0)
7:30 p.m., Traz Powell, Friday.
The Stephen Field era at Northwestern and the post-Duke Johnson era at Norland each got off on the right foot last week.
Northwestern looked impressive in overwhelming North Miami Beach with a power running game led by Darius Tice and Fabian Johnson and a stout defensive line led by Artie Burns.
Norland’s defense also looked good shutting out American behind another complete game from star defensive end Paul James. But Norland’s offense continues to look for the playmaker who will make up for the loss of one of Miami-Dade County’s all-time best.
Although Northwestern doesn’t have a Duke Johnson, it has some of the most talented players you will see in this game. One of them, Joseph Robinson, returned a punt for a touchdown and came up with a huge touchdown catch early on. Robinson could be the difference-maker late in a game that should come down to the wire.
Andre’s pick: Northwestern 17, Norland 16.