14. NORLAND (2-3) VS. 8. CAROL CITY (6-1) 7:30 p.m., Friday, Traz.
Carol City has won six consecutive games following its opening-week loss to Coral Gables.
Those wins have included impressive victories over Miami Central, Lakeland, Oxbridge Academy and Southridge.
The triumphs Carol City needs to make it truly mean something are this weekend against Norland and two weeks later against Northwestern.
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Because of an odd scheduling quirk, Norland has had three weeks to prepare for this game. The Vikings had a game against Blanche Ely canceled before the season and their regularly scheduled bye week over the past two weeks.
Norland needed the break badly after dropping three consecutive games to South Dade, Central and American Heritage, with the latter in a blowout.
If the Vikings used the time wisely to improve their offense, they might have a chance to ruin what has been Carol City’s fantastic season so far.
Chiefs’ quarterback Stephen "Buckshot" Calvert (shoulder injury) is a game-time decision, according to coach Aubrey Hill. Even if Calvert is out, freshman Lorenzo Floyd has looked more than capable in wins against Central and Southwest.
Norland will look to disrupt Carol City’s high-powered offense no matter who is throwing the ball.
Last year, these two and Northwestern played in a tiebreaker for the district’s runner-up spot.
A Vikings’ win can make a real mess of the district standings with four teams still in contention at this point.
The Norland defense needs backup, or Carol City will likely find a way to strike often enough and really take control of District 16-6A.
Andre’s pick: Carol City 14, Norland 6.
13. NORTHWESTERN (3-3) VS. 10. CENTRAL (5-2)7 p.m., Saturday, Traz.
Finally, after battling some of Dade’s best, Northwestern finished a big game with a victory as the Bulls beat Booker T. Washington 23-17.
Northwestern will try to follow that up by beating its biggest rival in a contest it hopes can start to swing the momentum, both on and off the field, back in its favor after five years of Central dominance.
The Bulls can make this a contest with their combination of balanced offense and solid defense. Corey Lane and Kai Henry each ran for touchdowns against Booker T. and will need to make big plays again this week. The kicking game could be huge as Kelvin Flores has become a reliable weapon on special teams for the Bulls.
Central responded following that close loss to Carol City by blowing out Jackson. The Rockets finally got solid production from the quarterback position for the first time this season as Jerrod Thomas threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns.
If that wasn’t a fluke, the Rockets might be back on track. Combine that passing proficiency with a solid running game and a punishing defense that held Jackson’s high-octane offense in check last week. If Central wins this game, it’s ready to start working its way back into the playoff race.
Andre’s pick: Central 20, Northwestern 17.
4. DEERFIELD (5-1) AT DOUGLAS (2-4) 7 p.m., Friday.
Deerfield Beach was the talk of the town after pulling off a huge 6-3 upset against St. Thomas Aquinas this past Friday.
Jefferson Souza hit two field goals to make the difference on the scoreboard for the Bucks. But Deerfield Beach’s defense deserves the bulk of the praise after holding Aquinas without a touchdown.
That had not happened in the Raiders’ previous 56 games.
The Bucks reminded everyone why they still need to be taken seriously as state championship contenders in Class 8A.
This week, Deerfield Beach continues its march to the District 11-8A title against one of the division’s better teams. To move on to state, the Bucks know the road goes through teams like Flanagan and whoever survives the Dade County region.
Make no mistake. The Bucks will have a chance.
Andre’s pick: Deerfield Beach 35, Douglas 7.