2. A. HERITAGE VS. 1. ST. THOMAS 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sun Life Stadium.
The first football meeting between Broward County’s top sports programs will have ramifications on the race for this year’s national champion.
American Heritage, the defending Class 5A state champion, put together a grueling schedule in the hopes of elevating its program to the national-championship level.
Aquinas has been at that level twice in its history and has a team good enough to challenge for a third this season.
Never miss a local story.
Both teams return several of their top playmakers and benefited from several top playmakers transferring from nearby University School in the offseason.
Heritage showed Sunday in its 49-23 exhibition win over Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer that it is still capable of scoring quickly and often. Quarterback Torrance Gibson is among the best dual threats in the nation and the Patriots have plenty of weapons on offense including impressive wide receiver Dedrick Snelson.
The Patriots defense will be challenged by Aquinas and its huge offensive line. The Raiders crushed Dillard early before emptying its bench after one half in their preseason classic.
The running game with Jordan Scarlett and Deltron Sands is complemented by a passing game with receivers such as Devante Peete and Sam Bruce. Scarlett gave fans a glimpse, however, breaking a 66-yard touchdown run last week before leaving the game early.
The difference could come down to depth and sheer numbers that Aquinas has on its roster, although Heritage is no slouch in that department.
Andre’s pick: Aquinas 30, American Heritage 24
5. MIRAMAR AT A.H. DELRAY 7 p.m., Friday.
The most-talented team in what should be a topsy-turvy race to Orlando in Class 8A got off to a good start with a 30-7 exhibition rout of Hallandale last week.
Sporting their red uniforms, the Patriots didn’t give the much-improved Chargers a chance of putting the game away early.
This Miramar team is poised to atone for what happened last year when an undefeated season came to a crashing halt at Palm Beach Gardens in the third round of the playoffs.
The Patriots believe they let their second state title slip away.
This road clash with Delray Heritage is the first of several tough opponents the Patriots believe will prepare them and keep them focused as they make another run at the Class 8A state crown.
Andre’s pick: Miramar 31, Heritage 13.
DILLARD VS. 16. PLANTATION 7 p.m., Friday, PAL.
Last season, Plantation turned this potentially good game into a rout quickly.Both teams graduated key players, but return enough young talent to be considered contenders to make the postseason in their respective classes.
Dillard is young, but has a stout defense.
Plantation looks like a balanced team that should benefit from the experience of a few key returners such as senior Antwuan Haynes.
Andre’s pick: Plantation 20, Dillard 13.
THURSDAY’S GAMES (ANDRE’S PICK)
North Broward Prep at Pompano Beach, 7 (Pompano 10-7)
Coral Glades at Fort Pierce John Carroll, 7 (John Carroll 42-6)
FRIDAY’S GAMES (ANDRE’S PICK)
Cardinal Gibbons at Western, 7 (Gibbons 35-3)
Cooper City at Coral Springs, 7 (Cooper City 27-20)
Boyd Anderson vs. Homestead (Harris), 7:30 (Homestead 27-12)
South Broward at Everglades, 7 (Everglades 27-6)
Nova vs. Fort Lauderdale (Dillard), 7 (Nova 17-14)
Cypress Bay at Delray Atlantic, 7 (Cypress Bay 30-27)
Hollywood Hills at Piper, 7 (Hills 28-20)
West Broward at Douglas, 7 (Douglas 35-7)
South Plantation vs. Foun. Valley (Orlando), 7 (F. Valley 37-31)
Taravella vs. D. Ridge (CO) (Orlando), 7 (Taravella 34-30)
Pine Crest at Westminster Academy, 7 (WA 34-17)
Chaminade-Madonna at Village Academy, 7:30 (Village 27-13)
Naples Gulf Coast at Pines Charter, 7 (Gulf Coast 16-14)
Archbishop Curley at Calvary Christian, 7 (Calvary 27-16)
Coral Springs Charter at Coral Shores, 7 (C. Shores 35-31)
Somerset Academy at Doral Academy, 7 (Doral 14-13)
Marco Island Christian at Highlands Christian, 7 (HC 21-10)