3. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (0-1) AT 11. MIRAMAR (1-0) 7, FRIDAY.
St. Thomas Aquinas can’t afford to dwell on its loss to Booker T. Washington.
The Raiders look to move forward this week against a Miramar team that until two years ago made it a habit of beating them in thrilling games.
Miramar is coming off a tough 5-5 rebuilding season but is looking like a team ready to recapture the success it had in recent years when it was a regular state-title contender.
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Behind its “Dark Side” defense and a solid passing attack led by new quarterback Steve Williams, the Patriots cruised to victory over an improved Mater Academy team last week.
Long term, Miramar will be a formidable force in the race for the Class 8A state championship.
But St. Thomas came within inches of beating Booker T. last week, and its depth should help it break into the win column this week.
Fernandez’s pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 27, Miramar 14.
6. NORTHWESTERN (1-0) VS. 8. COLUMBUS (1-0) 7, THURSDAY, TROPICAL PARK.
A Columbus squad missing star defensive back/running back C.J. Henderson (ankle injury) has struggled in the early going.
The Explorers lost their preseason game to Boyd Anderson and escaped with a narrow 21-13 win over Jackson last week.
Although Columbus appears vulnerable, this is the time the Explorers typically bounce back with a big victory.
What better time than this week facing a Northwestern team that would love to make a statement by beating Dade’s best Class 8A team in 2015.
The Bulls look like a strong team defensively and are led by their junior quarterback Tutu Atwell on offense as well as a strong group of running backs.
Northwestern is going to make some noise in District 16-6A this season and possibly break through to the playoffs.
But Columbus’ veterans will play a big role in this one as will its secondary.
Fernandez’s pick: Columbus 17, Northwestern 14.
DON BOSCO PREP (0-0) AT 4. AMERICAN HERITAGE (1-0) 7:30, FRIDAY.
Don Bosco Prep beat St. Thomas Aquinas twice in recent years and will try to add American Heritage to its list of Broward County triumphs.
Heritage bounced back from its preseason loss to Booker T. by winning a nail-biter over Georgia’s Colquitt County.
The Patriots struggled with a formidable offensive line in that Booker T. loss. The Ironmen, ranked No. 21 by USA Today, have one of their own led by FBS prospect Tyler Friday, along with seniors Liam Fornadell and Michael Luberto and junior Tyler Williams.
Add to that a talented quarterback in Syracuse commit Tommy DeVitto, and it’s another major challenge for Heritage.
Fernandez’s pick: Don Bosco Prep 24, American Heritage 21.
13. CORAL GABLES (1-0) VS. 17. SOUTH DADE (1-0) 7, THURSDAY, HARRIS.
For the second year in a row, Coral Gables thrived as underdogs and beat Carol City to open the season in a defensive struggle.
The Cavaliers are looking for playmakers to replace some of the ones they lost to graduation and found some on defense during the victory.
On offense, Gables showed its potential by running the football effectively with Johnny Ford and getting the ball to Kevin Romer any way it can.
South Dade graduated plenty of its players from last year and is also in the process of developing new stars. Quarterback Farlon Warren and running back Darius Brown look like they will play big roles as the Bucs offense comes together.
Both defenses are strong and should dictate the tempo of this game.
Count on Gables’ veterans to come through and maybe a big play late from its special teams by a player like Romer could prove huge.
Fernandez’s pick: Coral Gables 14, South Dade 7.
WESTERN (1-0) AT 19. McARTHUR (1-0) 7, FRIDAY.
Two teams looking to break through to the postseason collide in this one.
Western has shown how potent its offense can be in its first two games led by quarterback Harrison Story.
McArthur returned several playmakers from last season and after going 7-3 last year, hopes to take things a step further by making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Western has not made the postseason since 2010.
Fernandez’s pick: Western 20, McArthur 19.