1. CENTRAL (5-0) VS. 9. CAROL CITY (2-2), 7:30 P.M., FRIDAY, TRAZ.
Central couldn’t wait to show the nation it belonged among the best of the best.
Although Booker T. Washington was no longer ranked in the national polls entering this past Saturday’s game, the Rockets’ rout sent a clear message in a season where none of the local powerhouses had truly separated from the pack.
Once its special teams provided a spark on Kord Jenkins’ kickoff return for a touchdown early in the third quarter, Central’s running game and defense methodically broke the game open and left the Tornadoes searching for answers.
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The Rockets, who jumped to No. 11 in the nation in MaxPreps’ Xcellent Top 25 rankings Monday, next face the team that kept them from winning District 16-6A last season.
Carol City has bounced back from an 0-2 start with two impressive road victories, beating Lakeland 38-7 and Southridge 18-0.
The Chiefs have played inspired football led by running back Nayquan Wright, quarterback Marlon Smith, their talented group of receivers and a stout defense that has allowed one score over the past two weeks.
That being said, the Chiefs have to prove they can repeat that kind of effort against a Central squad that is piling up huge chunks of rushing yardage this season.
Led by James Cook, Willie Davis and Kywan Smith, the Rockets racked up a combined total of 550 yards on the ground against Jacksonville First Coast and Booker T. Washington over the past two games.
If Central can put together that kind of effort against Carol City, it should be able to dictate the tempo of the game and pick up a crucial district victory.
Andre’s pick: Central 24, Carol City 14.
2. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (3-1) AT BISHOP GORMAN, NEV. (5-0), 10 p.m., Friday, Las Vegas.
Key district clashes abound on this week’s football slate in South Florida.
And then there’s that battle of national top-10 teams in Las Vegas.
St. Thomas Aquinas, ranked No. 7 nationally by MaxPreps, has bounced back impressively since dropping its season opener in heartbreaking fashion to Booker T. Washington.
The Raiders have outscored their past three opponents by a combined score of 133-6 led by quarterback Jake Allen, who threw three touchdown passes in last week’s rout of Hallandale.
Aquinas, which held the top spot in the national rankings to open the season, heads west this weekend trying to topple the current No. 1 team in the nation.
Bishop Gorman plays host to the Raiders in a nationally televised game that fans in South Florida should stay up a little later for if they want to see some of the best athletes in the country. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The Gaels are the two-time reigning national champions and have won their past 44 games, already besting the likes of Cocoa, nationally ranked St. John Bosco of California and Texas powerhouse Cedar Hill.
Bishop Gorman is starting to look like it can become one of the nation’s storied programs that sustain success for numerous years like Concord De La Salle once did.
The Gaels did lose to Booker T. Washington in recent years.
Aquinas hopes to be the latest South Florida powerhouse to knock Gorman off its perch.
It’s a tall order, but if the Raiders are up to the task, it would certainly vault them back into the national-championship discussion even with one defeat.
Andre’s pick: Bishop Gorman 24, St. Thomas Aquinas 17.