Four of the five teams involved in rematches from the regular season avenged earlier defeats this past week.
One of the most notable developments happened in Plantation where Hallandale, despite having its star quarterback Tyler Huntley seriously hobbled by an ankle injury, found a way to rally from a 13-point deficit behind its defense and dispatch two-time defending state champion American Heritage from the postseason.
There’s good news for the Chargers as of Monday. Huntley’s ankle is feeling a lot better.
▪ Region 4-5A final — Hallandale (10-2) at Orlando Bishop Moore (11-1): Hallandale’s defense forced and recovered four fumbles that facilitated the remarkable comeback and its first regional final appearance.
A similar effort is imperative this week against Bishop Moore, which sports one of the best offensive lines in the state led by 6-5, 290-pound Notre Dame commit Parker Boudreaux.
Bishop Moore’s defense is no slouch either. The Hornets have held nine of their opponents to seven points or less this season, led by Wake Forest commit Zander Zimmer, a 6-4, 225-pound defensive end, and Charlotte commit Ben DeLuca, a 6-0, 185-pound defensive back.
Bishop Moore has likely not faced a quarterback as skilled as Huntley, a Utah commit, all season. Huntley is one of the greatest Broward County has ever seen, and one of those athletes that wills teams to victory like he did last week. Andre’s pick: Hallandale 34, Bishop Moore 31.
▪ Region 4-8A final at Harris — Columbus (11-1) vs. South Dade (10-1): Here we have the matchup between the past two Dade teams that have made it to Orlando. South Dade has recaptured some of the form it had in 2013 when it won the school’s first state title. Columbus, which came up short against Apopka in last year’s state final, looked like it could play for a state title in a complete dismantling of Coral Gables last week.
South Dade’s offensive line is extremely tough and while the 2013 Bucs were dangerous through the air, this team is more about running the football. Juwon Hamilton is as good as advertised and capable of changing a game on one play as he did again last week against Southridge.
This will come down the South Dade’s defense and if it can force turnovers and keep Columbus from sustaining long drives. If Columbus can limit big plays, it should come out on top. Andre’s pick: Columbus 20, South Dade 17.
▪ Region 4-6A final — Central (9-2) at Daytona Beach Mainland (11-1): The Rockets don’t have the explosive offensive firepower of a Dalvin Cook. Joe Yearby or Anthony Jones this season. But their game plan against Carol City was excellent, wide receiver Jernard Phillips is a star on the rise and senior quarterback Jerrod Thomas played his best game of the year. That was all Central’s punishing defense needed to crush the Chiefs.
Playing for the second year in a row in Daytona Beach and against a Mainland team the Rockets have eliminated three times in four seasons are huge obstacles to overcome. But Central specializes in defying the odds. Andre’s pick: Central 20, Mainland 14
▪ Region 3-8A final — Delray Beach Atlantic (12-0) at Flanagan (9-2): The Falcons played their brand of physical defense again last week to shut down a tough Deerfield Beach team on the road and advance to the regional finals for the second year in a row.
Atlantic, which is ranked No. 1 in the state in wide-open Class 8A, is in the regional final for the first time since 2002 and has some quality wins over Glades Central and Dwyer. But beating the Falcons at their place the way Devin Bush Jr. and company are playing right now is a tall order for any team. Andre’s pick: Flanagan 21, Atlantic 7.
▪ Class 4A state semifinal at Traz - Cocoa (10-2) vs. Booker T. Washington (7-5): Many at the start of the season thought Booker T. wouldn’t even reach this game. I said the rigors of a tough schedule would make the young Tornadoes veterans by now.
Still, Cocoa is clearly the more talented team on paper this year and motivated by three years of losing heartbreakers to Booker T. Washington. The Tornadoes have improved enough to make this a good game. Andre’s pick: Cocoa 34, Booker T. 31.
▪ Region 4-7A final — Mater Academy (10-1) at St. Thomas Aquinas (10-1): Mater coach Rocco Casullo faces the team he guided to a pair of state titles at the school he coached at for over a decade. But to say the Lions have a monumental obstacle to overcome this week is putting it mildly. Up front is where Aquinas should overwhelm Mater early and turn this into a rout. It might not be as bad as last year’s 57-0 drubbing, but still lopsided. Andre’s pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 41, Mater Academy 12.
NOTE: All games Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Andre’s record — Dade (Last week): 6-0 (1.000); Season: 266-57 (.824); Broward (Last week): 2-1 (.667); Season: 234-52 (.818).