5. COLUMBUS (4-2) VS. 10. N’WESTERN (4-1)
7 p.m., Saturday, Traz.
Although it’s a nondistrict game, this has become a fun rivalry in recent years between two playoff regulars.
Northwestern has owned the series, winning all but one meeting since 2006 with the teams playing every year.
That was a notable victory for Columbus, however, coming at Traz Powell Stadium and on national TV.
This one you’ll have to go to Traz to see live, but it will be worth it.
The Bulls have had two weeks following an ugly win over Southridge to try and get back on track. A recent loss to Carol City has put them in almost must-win mode if they want to make the playoffs.
Although this game won’t directly affect that outcome, it would help the Bulls’ confidence as they jump back into its tough district games next week.
Northwestern needs to establish its solid ground game with Darius Tice, Joseph Robinson and Fabian Johnson. More importantly, its defense has to make big plays against Columbus’ explosive offense.
That’s because for the first time in recent memory, it’s the Explorers who seem to have the most talented players on the field.
Against Central two weeks ago, Daryl Chestnut and Jesus Wilson didn’t get enough of an opportunity to level the playing field in a game where the Rockets showed off their depth.
In this game, it’s paramount for Columbus to get its playmakers in the open field and let them change the game the way they did in its earlier victories this season.
Andre’s pick: Columbus 20, Northwestern 14.
2. BOOKER T. (4-1) VS.15. JACKSON (5-1)
7:30 p.m., Friday, Traz.
When they were in the same district until a few years ago, this was a game to decide a district title.
It’s still an intense rivalry. The one consistent result was Booker T. winning.
Jackson is hoping to reverse that trend behind star quarterback Quinton Flowers and an offense that is capable but needs to be more consistent.
Since a loss to Central, the Tornadoes haven’t slowed down, scoring 161 points in three games (53.7 points-per-game average).
Although the quarterback matchup of Flowers against Treon Harris will be fun to watch, look for the Tornadoes’ backfield of D’Von Ballard and Krondis Larry to make a big difference.
D’Von Ballard and Krondis Larry are having tremendous seasons along with Harris piling up tons of rushing yards for a Booker T. squad that has looked unstoppable outside of one half of football this season.
• Andre’s pick: Booker T. 34, Jackson 16.
VARELA (2-2) VS.
CORAL REEF (2-3)
4 p.m., Friday, Southridge
Coming off a 4-6 season and undergoing a coaching change, Varela had high hopes of getting back to a team that can compete for a district title this season.
So far for the Vipers, things are going well.
Had it not been for a malfunction with Tropical Park’s lights in Week 1 against Edison, Varela would likely have a winning record in its first season under coach Carlos Mollinedo. He and coordinators Joe Montoya and Clark Eakes have worked well to lift Varela to a 1-0 record in District 15-8A.
The Vipers are looking like a team that should push Southwest for the district title down the road.
But it’s outside of its district that the Vipers have run into trouble, already suffering lopsided losses to South Dade (46-0) and Homestead (23-6).
Coral Reef, another talented team from District 16-8A, enters fresh off a game where it barely lost to powerhouse Norland 20-19 in overtime.
The Barracudas and quarterback Nicodem Pierre have played the same teams like South Dade and Homestead tough.
Look for this game to be close because both teams are well coached. Coral Reef gets the edge on a little more talent.
• Andre’s pick: Coral Reef 29, Varela 27.