Miami-Dade High Schools

September 23, 2013

Playoff feel for Coral Gables, Coral Reef

16. CORAL GABLES (3-0)

16. CORAL GABLES (3-0)

VS. 19. CORAL REEF (3-1)

7 p.m., Thurs., FIU.

Coral Reef quarterback Nico Pierre dove into the end zone and moments later joined the wild celebration with his teammates this past Friday night.

The Barracudas had just rallied for a huge overtime victory over Killian at Southridge Stadium.

Just a little while later at Tropical Park, Coral Gables was running out the clock and celebrating its first win against Columbus since 2006.

The victories put both teams in the driver’s seat for potential playoff spots in their districts.

But do they have enough in the tank for what should be a highly competitive game?

The teams match up well, with Pierre leading a strong passing game for Coral Reef and Gregory Howell’s power running leading the Cavaliers.

Each team has a solid defense that can shut down opponents and force turnovers.

Gables might have a slight edge when it comes to the offensive line. The Cavaliers did a great job against Columbus, helping Howell finish with 209 yards rushing and allowing for Gables to make some big plays in the passing game.

If it can do the same to Coral Reef’s defensive front, expect the Cavs to remain unbeaten.

Prediction: Coral Gables 14, Coral Reef 13.

NORTH MIAMI (3-0)

VS. MIAMI BEACH (3-0)

7 p.m., Fri., Memorial Field.

After more than a year of renovations, Memorial Field in Miami Beach will reopen and welcome back the home Hi-Tides, who are off to a 3-0 start.

It just so happens the first game back pits Miami Beach against another undefeated upstart in North Miami, which is hoping to ride the momentum to a potential playoff spot in District 13-8A.

The Pioneers haven’t allowed a point this season — a streak that began with a surprising 3-0 win against American and two routs against Hialeah-Miami Lakes and Hialeah Gardens.

Miami Beach has been prolific on offense behind some playmakers such as junior Markel Anderson and senior Brent Baker. The Hi-Tides shut out Miami High last week in their district opener and have wins against Ferguson and Mourning, two potential playoff teams.

The road will be tough for Miami Beach, with Coral Gables and Columbus in District 14-8A, but if the Hi-Tides can make some more big plays, they should be able to celebrate their stadium’s reopening.

Prediction: Miami Beach 22, North Miami 21.

BOOKER T. (4-0)

AT MSGR. PACE (3-0)

7:30 p.m., Friday.

Undefeated Pace is much improved on both sides of the ball and has one of the better quarterbacks in the county in Kelly Benson.

But Booker T. Washington is in a different orbit these days.

The Tornadoes dismantled another talented team last week, nearly blanking Jackson 35-6.

For Booker T., the district seems to be a formality. This team is out to break records.

Prediction: Booker T. 48, Pace 6.

KILLIAN (1-3) VS.

15. HOMESTEAD (2-1)

7:30 p.m., Fri., Harris Field.

After two weeks of plenty of explosive offense, Homestead suffered a costly setback against Norland, letting a 17-7 lead slip away late.

Superstar receiver Ermon Lane returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown but was held without a catch.

Killian’s defense is stronger, with Jaquan Johnson back in the lineup. But the Cougars just dropped a draining game against Coral Reef that has put them in a tough spot the rest of the season.

Prediction: Homestead 22, Killian 14.

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