Demetrius Taylor took the football and a win away from Carol City in the pouring rain at Traz Powell last Saturday night and made Northwestern a district champion for the first time in seven years.
Whether you choose to believe Carol City let certain victory slip away or that Northwestern continues to find a way to succeed, the fact is clear.
The Bulls are back.
Northwestern has played at a high level of football the entire season against one of the toughest schedules in the state and come within a couple of miscues on extra points from being undefeated heading into this week’s Soul Bowl.
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The Bulls continue to squash any doubt they are one of the strong favorites in the race for the Class 6A state championship.
Their title quest begins next week at Traz Powell Stadium followed very likely by a rematch with Carol City in the second round a week later.
This week, the Bulls aim to maintain dominance in one of Miami-Dade County’s most tradition-rich rivalry games.
3. NORTHWESTERN (8-1) VS. JACKSON (3-6), 7:30, FRIDAY, TRAZ: After losing the Soul Bowl for the first time in a dozen years in 2014, Northwestern reclaimed it last season.
Expect the Bulls to tighten their grip on the trophy this season.
Northwestern may not look like the most stingy defense in terms of statistics.
But time after time this season, the Bulls have come through at the most opportune times as they did again against the Chiefs in the closing seconds Saturday.
This mix of seniors and juniors on that side of the ball continue to force game-changing turnovers helping this battle-tested squad gain confidence with each passing week.
A young Jackson squad has had a tough season although it has remained competitive against the best of the best in South Florida – an effort highlighted by its upset win over Booker T. Washington earlier this season.
But depth is a department where the Generals won’t be able to match Northwestern and that could turn an initially close game into a rout.
Look for Dade’s leading rusher Kai Henry to help the Bulls’ offense set the tone early and cruise to another soul Bowl win.
Andre’s pick: Northwestern 37, Jackson 6.
2. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (6-2) AT 4. FLANAGAN (8-1), 7, FRIDAY: Flanagan’s defense might not have the overall star power it had a year ago with Devin Bush, Jr. leading the way.
But the Falcons have still managed to allow seven points or less in eight of their nine games this season.
The issue has been consistency on offense.
That’s where Aquinas’ own stout defense should thrive enough to pull through on this one. Flanagan could keep it close for a while, but St. Thomas is the most explosive offense the Falcons have faced this season, and good enough to pull away late.
Andre’s pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 20, Flanagan 3.
8. CARDINAL GIBBONS (7-1) AT 5. DEERFIELD BEACH (7-1), 7, FRIDAY: Gibbons has been one of the most entertaining turnaround stories of this season. The Chiefs’ explosive offense is good enough to put up points on most teams.
But ever since an early loss to Hallandale that was later reversed due to the Chargers’ use of an ineligible player, Deerfield Beach has risen back up to become the contender we all thought it would be in Class 8A.
The Bucks might have the right combination of explosiveness on offense and shutdown defense to make it to Orlando.
Andre’s pick: Deerfield Beach 35, Cardinal Gibbons 21.