In my opinon

Andre Fernandez: University faces big test on the road against Manatee

 

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

3. UNIVERSITY (7-0)

AT MANATEE (8-0)

7:30 p.m., Friday.

With the district championship wrapped up, the undefeated Suns play the first of two state championship-caliber games over the next few weeks in preparation for a possible playoff clash with Booker T. Washington.

The first test is a trip to Bradenton to take on five-time state champion Manatee at Hawkins Stadium — a place where the Hurricanes rarely lose.

But Manatee has learned to respect South Florida football.

Manatee, the Class 7A state champions in 2011, was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year until losing in the state semifinals to St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Hurricanes lost several stars from that team but have reloaded.

The Hurricanes moved up to Class 8A this season and are ranked No. 1 in the state in that class and No. 16 nationally by Rivals.com.

University, ranked No. 13 nationally by MaxPreps, has plenty of weapons on defense such as Quincy Wilson, Brandon Boyce and Bradley Clement to name a few.

Quarterback Sean White has had some of his best games in recent weeks and needs to be sharp in this one to keep the Suns undefeated.

Prediction: University 41, Manatee 38.

4. MIRAMAR (8-0)

AT CYPRESS BAY (4-3)

7 p.m., Friday.

In recent years, this has been one of the best rivalry games in Broward County.

Cypress Bay’s troubles this season might make it hard for this one to live up to its previous chapters.

Coach Mark Guandolo’s Lightning will be as prepared as it can be for one of the most balanced Miramar squads in recent memory.

Running back Dylan Rupert has been a bright spot for Cypress Bay this season, helping the Lightning control the football on offense.

But it’s difficult to see injury-plagued Cypress Bay hanging on for too long against the Patriots, who can lock up the District 12-8A championship with a victory.

Expect Miramar to run the football better than it did last week, and its defense will be as solid as usual as it starts to prepare for a big run in the Class 8A playoffs.

Prediction: Miramar 34, Cypress Bay 7.

S. PLANTATION (5-2)

VS. 16. MONARCH (7-1)

7 p.m., Fri., D. BEACH.

Monarch jumped out to a 14-0 lead last week and was ready to shock Deerfield Beach. A win would have put Monarch in great shape to potentially clinch its first playoff berth and win the district title.

Instead, the Bucks rallied and dealt the Knights a heartbreaking loss in overtime.

Monarch must bounce back quickly because it can still clinch that playoff berth if it beats a suddenly-hot South Plantation squad that has won four in a row.

The Knights have a dynamic offensive star with quarterback Michael Harris, who had another big game last week against Deerfield Beach. Harris and his teammates have made this a special season for Monarch, a team trying to build a winning tradition. The Knights take their first step by securing a playoff spot this week.

Prediction: Monarch 27, South Plantation 17.

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