In my opinion | Andre C. Fernandez

American Heritage faces another tough test in Daytona Mainland

 

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

DAYTONA MAINLAND (4-0)

AT 7. AM. HERITAGE (3-1)

7:30 p.m., Friday.

American Heritage put together one of its toughest schedules in school history in the hopes of contending for the Class 5A state championship.

This week, the Patriots face one of their tougher challenges in Daytona Beach’s top team. The Buccaneers have an explosive offense led by senior running back Trey Rodriguez that has put up big numbers and is complemented by a solid defense.

Mainland enters the game ranked No. 5 in Class 6A. Its last experience against a South Florida team came against Miami Central in the Class 6A regional finals in 2011, a game the Bucs lost 17-7.

American Heritage brings its solid group of athletes and one of the best rushing offenses in the county.

With starting quarterback Torrance Gibson out, the Patriots relied on backup Brandon Vicens in a 20-0 win against Chaminade last week. Vicens is one of the team’s best linebackers, and that’s where he can be a big help.

Heritage can use this game to get ready for its huge district clash with Miami Jackson — the team that has knocked the Pats out of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

If Sony Michel, Isaiah McKenzie, Juwan Dowels and others can make some big plays, Heritage should roll into the Jackson game on a four-game winning streak.

Prediction: American Heritage 38, Mainland 31.

CYPRESS BAY (1-2)

AT EVERGLADES (3-1)

7 p.m. Friday.

Cypress Bay went home reeling after a costly district loss to Flanagan last week.

The Lightning turned the ball over three times and Flanagan took advantage, outscoring it 29-2 in the second half.

Cypress Bay potentially faces elimination this early in a tough District 12-8A race that will likely require it to win every district game it has remaining.

Everglades, a young team in its first year under veteran coach Art Taylor, opened its district schedule with a win over Western last week. The Gators are starting to show glimpses of Taylor’s typically strong defensive teams.

The Gators are hoping to secure a signature victory at Cypress Bay’s expense this week if they can continue this progression.

But they’re facing a desperate Lightning squad. .

Before things fell apart for Cypress Bay last week, Dylan Rupert led a typically strong rushing effort. If the Lightning can get off to another strong start, don’t expect it to collapse.

Prediction: Cypress Bay 21, Everglades 17.

MONARCH (4-0)

AT DOUGLAS (2-1)

7 p.m., Friday.

Monarch entered the season with hopes of challenging for a playoff berth in District 11-8A.

Monarch has been led on offense by quarterback Michael Harris (70 of 100, 1,334 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception) and running backs Calvin Ridley, Cavari Morris and Tyron Woods, who have combined for 708 yards rushing.

Ridley has been a force in the passing game with 18 receptions for 574 yards and three touchdowns.

So far the Knights have put together complete efforts, shutting out three of their first four opponents. But a road trip to Parkland to face a much-improved Douglas squad should provide a good early test.

The Eagles lost their first game last week, but put together a solid performance against a Deerfield Beach squad poised to contend for the Class 8A title this season.

But Monarch appears ready to show how legit it has become with each passing week as prepares to enter the heart of its district schedule.

Prediction: Monarch 34, Douglas 33.

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