With the playoff picture determined, the final regular-season week offers a few rivalry games, a lot of teams trying to stay healthy for the postseason, and a final chance for some to end the 2015 season on a high note.
And then you have a matchup between two potential state champions.
5. FLANAGAN (7-1) AT 3. ST. THOMAS (7-1) 7 p.m., Friday.
At the start of the season many pointed to this game as a potential clash of national-championship contenders.
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But Flanagan and Aquinas each suffered surprise setbacks during the season that took that scenario out of the picture.
Flanagan has since won five in a row in routs on its way to the District 12-8A title. Aquinas bounced back from that midseason loss to Deerfield Beach with expected victories over Fort Lauderdale and Blanche Ely to win the District 14-7A title.
Both squads wouldn’t want to risk injury, considering each is a favorite to win state titles in their respective classes. Aquinas quarterback Jake Allen (back) has been held out the past two weeks.
Flanagan has never been in a position to knock off Broward County’s premier program, and it’s playing its best football of the season. Is it enough to knock off the mighty Raiders on the road?
Andre’s pick: Flanagan 22, St. Thomas Aquinas 21.
17. AMERICAN (6-3) VS. 7. CAROL CITY (7-2) 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Milander.
Both teams won their respective districts.
American locked up the District 13-8A crown a few weeks ago, dominating all five of its district opponents by a combined score of 181-47.
The Patriots’ defense is one of the better ones in the country, and it could use a good test against a high-powered Carol City offense.
Although the Chiefs beat Central earlier in the season, they found themselves in a battle just to make the playoffs in the always difficult District 16-6A race. Carol City finally got the major victory it needed last week as it outlasted a tough Northwestern squad to secure not only a playoff berth, but also its first district title since 2009.
Carol City begins a quest for what would be its first state title since 2003 next week when it plays Dillard in the first round. American has not won a playoff game since 1997.
This will be a good measuring stick for each team as they try to be judicious about key starters’ playing time.
That being said, Carol City has a clear advantage on offense.
Andre’s pick: Carol City 21, American 7.
4. CORAL GABLES (8-0) VS. SOUTHWEST (7-2) 7 p.m., Saturday, Tropical.
If there was any doubt Coral Gables was a serious contender to go far in the Class 8A state playoffs, last week’s 20-10 win over Columbus proved otherwise.
Gables has a solid combination of a power running game that can hit the occasional big play downfield out of the passing game and a swarming defense that will probably make life difficult for any opposing quarterback it faces in the playoffs.
But first the Cavaliers take on a Southwest team that has become an example of consistency in District 15-8A.
The Eagles made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year in a season after they graduated several of their top playmakers.
Senior James Barnes has had three consecutive games in which he has scored in nearly every phase of the game to help the Eagles win key district games over Coral Reef, Ferguson and Braddock.
Southwest should make this longstanding rivalry game competitive, but Gables is hitting its stride and should take control of this one to complete an unbeaten regular season.
Andre’s pick: Coral Gables 24, Southwest 7.