Andre Fernandez: St. Thomas Aquinas faces another stern test

11/05/2013 12:01 AM

09/08/2014 6:56 PM

4. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (8-1)

AT 6. DEERFIELD BEACH (9-0)

7 p.m., Friday.

Aquinas got pushed hard last week by Plantation, but its resilient defense came through until the offense did enough to win the district title.

The Raiders have another tough opponent before opening the postseason.

Deerfield Beach brings a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield with Brandon Powell and Aeron McNeal, and quarterback Danarious Graham adds explosiveness to the offense.

Aquinas’ defense is a tough obstacle, however.

Look for the Raiders to work on getting their offense going as well as they prepare for a run at state title No. 8.

Prediction: St. Thomas 28, Deerfield Beach 16.

5. UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (8-1)

VS. 2. MIAMI CENTRAL (7-1)

7 p.m., Saturday, Traz.

University School bounced back strong following the Manatee road defeat with a lopsided win over Island Coast.

But if the Suns have another horrible outing against an opposing running game like they did in Bradenton two weeks ago, it will be another frustrating result. .

Central’s Joe Yearby and Dalvin Cook and one of the best offensive lines in the country will likely make it a reality. The Rockets’ main concern aside from keeping those guys healthy is going to be turnovers. Central can’t afford to give the ball away five times like it did against Carol City or University will make it pay.

Prediction: Central 38, University 21.

13. DILLARD (7-2)

AT BLANCHE ELY (4-5)

7 p.m., Saturday.

The Soul Bowl is always better when both teams are going to the playoffs.

That was secured last week when Ely continued its second-half resurgence by beating Northeast and clinching the District 14-7A title.

It hasn’t been pretty for the Tigers with a sub-.500 record, but they have played a tough schedule.

Dillard is going to be tough for Ely, especially in a rivalry game like this.

The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in Broward, winning seven in a row after an 0-2 start and claiming their own district title.

Look for its potent offense to make a few key plays and carry Dillard to victory.

Prediction: Dillard 22, Blanche Ely 20.

SOUTH PLANTATION (6-3)

VS. 11. PLANTATION (7-2)

7 p.m., Friday, PAL.

South Plantation was in a battle for its playoff life Monday in the District 11-8A tiebreaker with Monarch and Taravella.

Regardless of the outcome, the Paladins have done a tremendous job to even contend for the playoffs after graduating so many of its key players.

Plantation battled St. Thomas tough last week and hopes for a rematch in three weeks in the playoffs. As long as Chris Lammons is good to go, the Colonels should keep going on a steady pace toward that game.

Prediction: Plantation 34, South Plantation 16.

7. AMERICAN HERITAGE (8-1)

AT LAKELAND KATHLEEN (8-1)

7 p.m., Friday.

Heritage provided more evidence it is playing at a higher level this season by putting up 70 or more points for the second consecutive season against Cardinal Gibbons.

The Patriots will try to make it nine wins in a row against a team that scored its own upset victory last week in Lakeland.

Kathleen defeated Lakeland 24-3 in a game the Red Devils needed to claim their district championship.

Heritage needs to disrupt Kathleen’s defense and get an early lead on the road. I’m not sure how careful Heritage may be with its starters since the playoffs are a week away.

Prediction: American Heritage 27, Kathleen 20.

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