5. CORAL GABLES (2-0) VS. 10. COLUMBUS (2-0)
7:30 p.m., Friday, Tropical Park.
The subtle verbal jabs began at the Miami Dolphins Media Day.
They have continued on social media since.
Coral Gables let Columbus know it believes it is the new king of their district and state-title contender.
Columbus let Gables know it believes last season’s two defeats to Gables were a one-year fluke.
We will all find out who has the early upper hand in this power struggle Friday night.
The winner of this game becomes the front-runner to win District 14-8A. Although I would venture to say they will likely meet again in the playoffs, just as they did last season.
After back-to-back state semifinal appearances, Columbus took a step back last season after losing to Gables in the regional semifinals.
Gables has entered the season with the highest expectations it has had probably since the 1960s when winning state titles was the norm for the Cavaliers.
A stellar running game and stout defense might give Gables the edge once again in this matchup, which should come down to the wire just as it did twice a year ago.
Andre’s pick: Coral Gables 24, Columbus 23.
1. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (1-0) AT DON BOSCO PREP (N.J.) (1-0)
4 p.m., Saturday, West Point, NY.
Aquinas has been nearly unbeatable when taking on top-notch programs from around the country for the past six seasons.
Don Bosco Prep is the only team that put a blemish on that record two seasons ago when it beat Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale 20-10. The Raiders are otherwise 8-0 against out-of-state opponents since 2008.
The Ironmen are still one of the better squads nationwide, entering the week ranked No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps.
But as seen against American Heritage two weeks ago, Aquinas has one of the deepest squads in the country.
Its running game is solid with Jordan Scarlett and Deltron Sands, and up front on both sides, Aquinas showed it can overpower opponents. Traveling should not be a deterrent for the Raiders, who should get some payback in this matchup.
Andre’s pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 24, Don Bosco Prep 17.
7. MIRAMAR (1-1) VS. 19. PLANTATION (1-1)
7 p.m., Friday, PAL.
Miramar appeared to be in control last week against American Heritage, building a 26-10 lead in the second half before things fell apart.
Look for the Patriots to bounce back this week.
Plantation runs the football well and recovered from its own opening-week loss last week.
But expect Miramar’s defense to learn from last week’s defeat and make adjustments to stop the running game. The Patriots have enough offense to secure a victory in this game and set up a huge matchup the following week with St. Thomas.
Andre’s pick: Miramar 28, Plantation 13.
18. SOUTH DADE (1-1) VS. 14. AMERICAN (1-0)
7 p.m., Thurs., Traz.
American’s special teams and defense shined bright in an opening-week blowout win against North Miami.
South Dade bounced back last week with a dramatic overtime win against Carol City.
This one could go either way.
American is hungry to prove it is one of Miami-Dade County’s top teams, and I think will make the best of this opportunity game.
Andre’s pick: American 14, South Dade 13.
13. NORLAND (1-0) VS. JACKSON (1-0)
7 p.m., Saturday, N. Miami.
Following a dominant defensive performance in Georgia against MLK High, the Vikings face one of the more improved teams in the county. Norland also proved it could run the football with that win in Georgia. Its running game will provide just enough offense to squeak out a victory this week.
Andre’s pick: Norland 13, Jackson 12.