We have been waiting for it since January.
We have the battle of defending state champions between No. 1 nationally ranked Booker T. Washington and Davie University School .
Will the game live up to the hype?
Booker T. has steamrolled most of its opponents keeping its No. 1 national ranking heading into this matchup. University School has struggled in two games against comparable opponents losing to Central and Bradenton Manatee.
The winner is very likely to repeat as state champions.
And for the Tornadoes, it’s a bigger prize at stake.
Region 4-4A final — Booker T. Washington (11-0) vs. Davie University School (9-2) at Nova: Booker T. is at full strength following the return of quarterback Treon Harris. University had its tune-up after beating Gulliver last week.
The Suns, however, have lost both games in recent weeks against state championship-caliber teams unable to slow down opposing running games.
Booker T.’s offense is more of a balanced attack, which could give University more of a chance to hang in there. But as talented as the Suns are, it’s going to be hard for them to match speed and skill overall with the Tornadoes.
The Suns need to get their own playmakers the ball and protect quarterback Sean White consistently.
That’s going to be awfully tough against arguably the best front seven in the nation. Look for Booker T.’s defense to make the difference when it counts. Andre’s pick: Booker T. 37, University 21.
Region 4-8A semifinal — South Dade (10-1) vs. Killian (7-4) at Tropical: This is the toughest one to pick this week. South Dade has looked great behind its high-powered offense for most of the season. Killian is the only team that made it look vulnerable in a game that the Cougars won to eventually secure the District 16-8A title.
Four interceptions of South Dade quarterback Khalil Render made the difference in that game. The Cougars defense is the biggest reason they enter this game on a six-game winning streak.
But can they do it again to the Bucs, who look like they’ve recaptured their offensive rhythm? The wild card in this one could be, what if South Dade’s defense makes the decisive play? Andre’s pick: South Dade 20, Killian 19.
Region 4-8A semifinal — Columbus (7-4) vs. Coral Gables (10-1) at Tropical, Thurs., 7 p.m.: Oshton Armstrong running for 193 yards and the Explorers going for 226 as a team. That’s the team Columbus needs to be to get back to the state semifinals.
Columbus needs to have its defense play as solid as it has since its loss to Norland that capped a sloppy 1-4 start. The Explorers have since allowed 15 points in six wins and those came on a safety and two meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns.
The Explorers don’t need much motivation against a Gables team that beat them for the first time since 2006.
Gables’ defense intercepted Columbus quarterback Tucker Beirne three times in the first meeting. The Cavaliers will only be able to duplicate that if they can shut down this revived Columbus running. Gables also needs a healthy Gregory Howell dominating as a 1-2 punch with sophomore Keino Mike and balancing an offense with quarterback Dijion Smith. Howell hasn’t played in recent weeks so it remains to be seen how much of a factor he can be in the rematch. Andre’s pick: Columbus 27, Coral Gables 24.
Region 4-6A semifinal — Fort Lauderdale Dillard (8-3) vs. Central (9-1) at Traz Powell: Dillard pulled off a turnaround of its own last week jumping ahead of Carol City early and holding on for a 28-19 win. This came a week following a 50-0 loss in the Soul Bowl to Blanche Ely.
This week presents a monster of a challenge against a Central team that put up 48 points in the first half against Boynton Beach. Dillard’s offense might be able to generate some points if it comes out sharp. But look for the Rockets to wear down the Panthers defense with the running game and break some big plays to turn the score heavily in their favor. Andre’s pick: Central 42, Dillard 20.
Region 4-3A final — Westminster Christian (10-1) at West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman (8-3): Mounting injuries and a tough trip to West Palm Beach are going to be tough for the Warriors to overcome. Jordan Cronkrite, one of Westminster’s top playmakers, went down with an ankle injury last week, and the Warriors barely survived Pahokee thanks to a stellar defensive effort.
They can’t afford a slow start against Newman, a team that has been getting closer to a breakthrough the past few seasons under coach and former UM quarterback Steve Walsh. Andre’s pick: Cardinal Newman 28, Westminster Christian 24.
Region 4-2A final — Champagnat Catholic (11-0) at Belle Glade Glades Day (8-3): The Lions picked up their first playoff win last week running the football well as they have in recent weeks. They didn’t get the rematch with rival Dade Christian. Instead, they have to hit the road to Belle Glade which is never easy.
That, and a Glades Day team that might not be as down as people think could cause problems for Champagnat if it’s not ready. But the Lions are too talented to slip up at this point. Look for a strong second half to help them win again. Andre’s pick: Champagnat Catholic 22, Glades Day 8.
Andre’s record — Last week: 10-1; Season: 225-61.
NOTE: All games start Friday at 7:30 p.m.