1. CENTRAL (4-0) VS. 4. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (3-1), 7 SATURDAY, TRAZ.
No powerhouse in South Florida has truly shown its full potential yet.
This game could be the moment one of the nation’s best makes a strong statement.
Booker T. Washington opened the year with a bang, knocking off then-No. 1 ranked St. Thomas Aquinas in dramatic fashion.
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The Tornadoes have since sputtered even in victory, winning games against Monsignor Pace and Southridge ugly. And, of course, the shocking loss to Jackson that knocked them out of the national rankings.
Central looked impressive for the first four weeks, rolling up tons of points, but not exactly against world beaters. The Rockets faced their toughest challenge so far last week and nearly came up short against a tough Norland squad that they only beat 29-27.
Booker T.’s offense has struggled mightily over its past couple of games with nine combined turnovers, and drew the ire of longtime coach Tim “Ice” Harris, who challenged his team’s determination following a sloppy 20-6 win over Southridge.
The Tornadoes will need plenty of heart and, more importantly, execution if they are to beat the Rockets.
Central brings a deep and talented running game led by James Cook that has averaged more than 200 yards per game so far and helped its offense outscore its opponents 205-41.
The key could come down to Central’s defense and how it performs against Booker T. Washington’s passing game.
If the Rockets can continue to force Booker T. into mistakes, it will be a long night for the Tornadoes.
These two have split the past four meetings, and each is on a quest to become the first Miami-Dade County team to win five consecutive state championships.
Expect Booker T. to correct some of its offensive woes and make this another spectacular showdowns.
But Central’s defense and running game might make the slight difference.
Andre’s pick: Central 28, Booker T. 27.
11. COLUMBUS (2-2) VS. BELEN JESUIT (2-1), 7 SATURDAY, TROPICAL.
Can Columbus make it a dozen defeats for its longtime rival?
Early indications this season are that this game, an annual event among two of Dade’s most tradition-rich private schools, will still be dominated by the Explorers.
Belen has bounced back with a couple of victories since its shutout loss in Ireland against Marist. But the Wolverines will have a tough time trying to score against a tough Columbus defense.
The Explorers have a depth and skill advantage overall, and look for them to use it to their advantage quickly in this game and outlast Belen to another victory in this series.
Andre’s pick: Columbus 24, Belen Jesuit 3.
8. SOUTHRIDGE (2-1) VS. CAROL CITY (1-2), 7:30 FRIDAY, SOUTHRIDGE.
This game comes down to Carol City’s offense.
If it’s the team that struggled during its first two games, it will lose to a stingy Spartans’ defense. But if it can limit mistakes and carry over some of that firepower it used to level Lakeland on its home field to weeks ago, look for the Chiefs to continue to bounce back from a poor start.
Andre’s pick: Carol City 14, Southridge 6.
3. AMERICAN HERITAGE (4-0) VS. 17. NORLAND (3-2), 7:30 FRIDAY, HERITAGE.
Few teams around the country have opened the season with a tougher schedule than American Heritage. It will get an upset-minded Norland team this week that is coming off a near upset of Central.
Look for the Patriots to rely on their winning formula of tough defense and balanced offense to secure another tough victory.
Andre’s pick: American Heritage 30, Norland 20.