Even though it was expected to win, Booker T. Washington again looked like the top-ranked team in the country this past Friday.
Two more foes stand in Booker T.’s way of reaching Orlando for the third consecutive season, winning its second state title in a row and claiming its first national championship.
•Class 4A state semifinal at Traz Powell — Cocoa (11-1) vs. Booker T. Washington (12-0):
For the third consecutive season, the Tornadoes’ obstacle in this round is Cocoa.
This Cocoa squad is arguably its best since Booker T. snapped its run of three state championships in a row with an overtime victory two seasons ago the last time this game was played in Miami.
Good running teams have had some success against Booker T. this season like Central and Bishop Gorman.
But the Tornadoes have enough weapons on offense in case they get into a shootout. They have one of the best front sevens and secondaries in the country. Andre’s pick: Booker T. 41, Cocoa 21.
•Region 4-8A final at Traz — South Dade (11-1) vs. Coral Gables (11-1), 1 p.m., Saturday:
Coral Gables has its most wins in a season since 1969 and has made it further than it has since 1985.
South Dade is in the regional final round for fifth time since 2005.
So which of the season’s best stories will continue past this weekend?
For Coral Gables, the most impressive part of its comeback against Columbus was the way its defense and special teams stepped up at the right time.
For South Dade, it was a resurgent defense that bailed out its offense in sloppy conditions against Killian.
Gables has made a remarkable run and is capable of another huge win. But South Dade was the favorite in this region at the start of the season. Andre’s pick: South Dade 28, Coral Gables 27.
•Region 4-6A final at Traz: Palm Bay Heritage (12-0) vs. Central (10-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday:
Central is trying to advance to the state semifinals for fifth consecutive season, which would match Booker T. Washington (2003-2007) for the longest such streak in Dade.
To do so, the Rockets must take down the undefeated Panthers who rallied last week to eliminate Naples. Andre’s pick: Central 34, Heritage 14.
•Class 3A state semifinal at Harris Field — Clearwater Central Catholic (10-2) vs. Westminster Christian (11-1):
Behind an explosion of early points, the Warriors survived a tough road test at Cardinal Newman last week.
Westminster Christian is among the state final four in its class for the first time since 1995.
If the Warriors hope to make it to state for the first time since 1973 when they lost to Jacksonville University Christian, they will likely need to deliver another offensive barrage.
That won’t be easy against the visiting Marauders, who have 22 interceptions this season, and will try and put pressure on quarterback Hunter Boyette early and often.
This game will have to be won by Champagnat’s defense. Andre’s pick: Champagnat 26, Indian Rocks Christian 14.
NOTE: All games Friday at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.