In My Opinion | Andre C. Fernandez

Big-time rematches are on tap

 

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Aside from the actual state championship weeks, this is arguably one of the most fun rounds of postseason football action.

It’s “rematch week.”

Region 4-6A semifinal — Central (8-2) vs. Northwestern (9-2) at Traz: Sun Life Stadium was the site in late October when Central outlasted Northwestern in a 35-17 win that clinched the District 16-6A title for the Rockets.

Northwestern then took the tough route to the playoffs, beating Homestead and then winning a tiebreaker with the Broncos and Carol City.

The first meeting couldn’t have started better for the Bulls as they jumped out to an 11-0 lead. But a fumble that Central junior Dalvin Cook returned for a touchdown swung the momentum permanently in the Rockets’ favor.

The Rockets have won the past two playoff meetings and four overall, and have shown a knack for winning playoff rematches in recent years.

Andre’s pick: Central 24, Northwestern 17.

•  Region 4-8A semifinal — Killian (9-1) vs. South Dade (10-1) at Harris: The first clash between these two was won by South Dade 23-21 thanks to some stellar returns by Antwan Cordy and the Bucs rallying from a 21-14 deficit after letting an early 14-0 lead slip away.

Killian seems to be getting stronger every week behind the leadership of Jaquan Johnson, Miguel Andrillion and quarterback David Felipe. If Killian can avoid the poor start it had in the regular-season meeting, it just might be able to get past the Bucs and reach the third round for the first time since 2008.

Andre’s pick: Killian 16, South Dade 13.

•  Region 4-5A semifinal — Norland (9-2) vs. Jackson (6-4) at North Miami Stadium: Jackson pulled off the upset of the young postseason by dominating American Heritage. The Generals held Sony Michel and the Patriots’ running game in check, and quarterback Quinton Flowers finally got the offense going with two touchdowns passing and two rushing.

Jackson will have to do the same against a Norland squad that has found some offensive rhythm behind the hard running of LaKeith Stafford. The Vikings defense is still one of the best and likely a harder obstacle for Jackson to overcome.

Andre’s pick: Norland 24, Jackson 21.

•  Region 4-2A final — Belle Glade Glades Day (9-2) at Dade Christian (10-0): The Crusaders have impressed this season by remaining undefeated and winning several close games. But this, by far, will be their toughest test against phenom running back Kelvin Taylor. He has run for 2,260 yards and 40 TDs this season.

It’s doubtful Dade Christian will stop Taylor, but if its playmakers can match enough offense. They just might be able to squeak by this round.

Andre’s pick: Dade Christian 35, Glades Day 34.

Region 4-4A final — Gulliver (6-5) vs. Booker T. (10-1) at Curtis Park: The Tornadoes scored 71 of their 562 points this season in last week’s game against North Broward Prep. Booker T. scored 49 against Gulliver the first time it played the Raiders. Gulliver won’t give up 71 but still too many.

Andre’s pick: Booker T. 42, Gulliver 14.

•  Region 4-8A semifinal — Coral Gables (4-7) vs. Columbus (7-4), 1 p.m., Fri., at Traz: Gables has continued to be resilient late in the season. Last week’s 20-point fourth quarter comeback against North Miami Beach was the Cavaliers’ first playoff win since 1989.

But Columbus finally seems to be figuring things out and playing to its potential.

Andre’s pick: Columbus 35, Coral Gables 7.

Andre’s record — Last week: 12-2; Season: 245-73.

NOTE: All games Friday at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

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