In My Opinion

Andre Fernandez: Central gets preparation for playoffs

 

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

5. UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (8-1)

VS. 2. CENTRAL (7-1)

7 p.m., Saturday, Traz.

Central prepares for its push for state title No. 3 in four seasons with a state championship-caliber opponent to close the regular season.

Davie University School bounced back strong following the Manatee road defeat with a lopsided win over Island Coast.

But if the Suns have another horrible outing against an opposing running game like they did in Bradenton two weeks ago, it will be another frustrating result for them.

Central’s Joe Yearby and Dalvin Cook and one of the best offensive lines in the country will likely make it a reality. The Rockets’ main concern is going to be turnovers. Central can’t afford to give the ball away five times like it did against Carol City.

Prediction: Central 34, University 21.

12. CORAL GABLES (8-1)

VS. 9. SOUTHWEST (9-0)

7 p.m., Thursday, Tropical.

One of Miami-Dade County’s oldest rivalries has historically been lopsided massively in Coral Gables’ favor.

But in recent years, Southwest has been able to secure victory and reach a level playing field with the Cavaliers.

After a playoff return last season, Coral Gables took it up a notch this season, beating Columbus and winning its first district title since 2006. The Cavaliers have county-leading running back Gregory Howell leading a potent offense and a stingy defense that has made them one of Dade’s best.

Explosive athletes such as quarterback Dre Pickett-White have the Eagles dreaming of playoff victories as well.

If they can slow down Gables, Southwest’s much-improved defense will have a perfect regular season to celebrate.

Prediction: Southwest 28, Coral Gables 27.

20. AMERICAN (6-3)

VS. 14. CAROL CITY (6-3)

7 p.m., Thursday, Traz.

Following playoff-clinching wins for each, these neighborhood rivals will try to be careful not to get any key players hurt while testing themselves a week before the postseason.

American swept its district and crushed Mater Academy last week to secure the District 16-7A title. Carol City did the same against Norland to secure the runner-up spot in District 16-6A — one of the state’s toughest.

American coach Corey Bell has known all season his team has the talent to be a contender. But the Patriots are facing one of their toughest challenges.

Plus, Carol City quarterback Trayone Gray is still the best player on the field.

Prediction: Carol City 19, American 17.

10. SOUTH DADE (8-1)

VS. HOMESTEAD (6-3)

7:30 p.m., Friday, Harris.

Being eliminated from the playoffs hasn’t deterred Homestead the past few weeks.

An inspired Broncos squad beat Northwestern last week, and their offense continues to click behind Maurice Alexander.

South Dade took care of Coral Reef to make it sure it made the postseason following a tough loss to Killian.

The Bucs are prepping for the playoffs. This is Homestead’s “Super Bowl.”

Prediction: South Dade 24, Homestead 23.

NORTHWESTERN (4-5)

VS. JACKSON (5-4)

7:30 p.m., Friday, Traz.

The Soul Bowl has plenty of tradition and alumni on both sides who care about this game.

But with both teams eliminated from the playoffs, there’s not much left than to keep each school’s pride alive with a victory.

Jackson is playing like an angry team after beating Pace and crushing Key West. The Generals would love to send Northwestern home with a losing season and get a rare victory in this series.

Prediction: Jackson 16, Northwestern 14.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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