Note: All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
WEEK 2 – SEPT. 2
Belen vs. Marist (Ga.) in Dublin, Ireland, noon, Friday
Belen Jesuit opens its season on another continent as it becomes the first South Florida high school team to play an official game overseas. The Wolverines will be part of the three-game high school football showcase in Dublin leading up to the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The Wolverines spend a week in Ireland in what promises to be an unforgettable trip for a squad aiming for another postseason run.
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Others to watch: Thursday: Northwestern vs. Columbus (Tropical), 7; Coral Gables vs. South Dade (Harris), 7; Friday: Carol City at Oxbridge Academy.
WEEK 3 – SEPT. 9
Southridge vs. Columbus, Friday
Could this be a sneak preview of the regional finals in Class 8A? Many think so with Southridge sporting one of its most talented teams in the past two decades. This is an early test to see how it measures up against a Columbus team that has proven itself a perennial state title contender in recent years.
Others to watch: Friday: American Heritage vs. Northwestern (Traz); Carol City at Lakeland; Hialeah vs. HML (Milander); Saturday: Central at Jacksonville First Coast, 7; Belen at Gulliver, 3.
WEEK 4 – SEPT. 16
Booker T. at Southridge, Friday
Booker T. Washington will be one week from its annual showdown with Miami Central. Southridge will be coming off a crucial contest against Columbus. It will be interesting to see how the focus of both sides coming into this game, which should be much more competitive than last season’s clash.
Others to watch: Friday: Killian vs. Coral Gables (Tropical); Edison vs. Keys Gate (Harris); Northwestern at American Heritage-Delray, 7; Jackson at Cardinal Gibbons, 7.
WEEK 5 – SEPT. 24
Central vs. Booker T. Washington, 7, Saturday, Traz Powell Stadium
Belen vs. Columbus, 7, Saturday, Tropical Park
The clash of nationally ranked championship contenders promises to be one of the best games this season. Each team is vying to win a state-record five consecutive state titles. First, one must get through the other to keep any potential national title hopes alive, assuming they are still unbeaten at this point.
Not much needs to be said about Columbus and Belen other than the event that typically draws around 10,000 fans from both schools to is moving from FIU to Tropical Park. Better arrive early.
Others to watch: Friday: Carol City at Southridge; Mater Academy at Doral; South Dade vs. Northwestern (Traz).
WEEK 6 – SEPT. 30
Carol City vs. Central, Friday, Traz Powell Stadium
These two split their meetings last season with Carol City winning a nail-biter that led the Chiefs to a district championship. Central earned payback in the playoffs with a blowout victory in the Class 6A regional semifinals. These two enter the season among the state’s best, and although the overall battle won’t be settled on this night, any statements made will echo well into November.
Others to watch: Thursday: Southwest vs. Belen (Tropical); Friday: South Dade at Southridge; Coral Gables vs. Miami High (Curtis).
WEEK 7 – OCT. 7
Booker T. vs. Northwestern, Friday, Traz Powell
Although Booker T. should once again enter this game as a favorite, look for Northwestern to make this a close game and have a realistic chance of an upset. The Tornadoes will be two weeks removed from its showdown with Central and looking to build momentum for the postseason, while Northwestern … well when does this team get an easy opponent?
Others to watch: Thursday: Coral Gables vs. Hialeah (Milander), 7; Friday: Westminster Christian at Chaminade-Madonna, 3:30; Southridge vs. Killian (Tropical).
WEEK 8 – OCT. 14
Killian vs. South Dade, Friday, Harris Field
With Southridge expected to be the top dog in District 16-8A, Killian and South Dade should find themselves in the mix for the district’s other playoff berth, making this a decisive game. Last year, Southridge, South Dade and Killian played in a three-team playoff tiebreaker for the district title.
Others to watch: Thursday: Carol City vs. Norland (Traz), 7; Goleman at Doral, 7; Friday: Central vs. Northwestern (Traz); NMB vs. North Miami (N. Miami).
WEEK 9 – OCT. 20
Booker T. vs. Columbus, 7, Thursday, Traz Powell
Columbus routed Booker T. Washington in last season’s meeting. That was the Tornadoes’ last defeat before running off five consecutive wins and claiming the Class 4A state championship. This year’s Booker T. squad will be a much tougher obstacle for the Explorers to overcome, but don’t put it past Columbus, which has made it to at least the state final four in four of the past five seasons.
Others to watch: Thursday: Krop vs. Hialeah (Milander), 7; Friday: American Heritage vs. Jackson (Curtis); Norland vs. Northwestern (Traz).
WEEK 10 – OCT. 29
Northwestern vs. Carol City, 7, Saturday, Traz Powell
Here’s where Northwestern needs to make its move if it wants to break through and make the playoffs. Carol City entered the season expected to challenge Central for the district title, but the Bulls have gone through a brutal schedule at this point and should be battle-tested enough to push the Chiefs to the limit.
Others to watch: Thursday: Coral Gables vs. Columbus (Tropical), 7; Friday: Coconut Creek vs. Jackson (Traz); Homestead vs. South Dade (Harris); Palmetto vs. Killian (Southridge); Saturday: Braddock vs. Southwest (Tropical), 7.
WEEK 11 – NOV. 4
Northwestern vs. Jackson, Friday, Traz Powell
The Soul Bowl rivalry is renewed between teams that hope to be preparing for the postseason at this point. Even if this is their respective final games of the 2016 season, there will still be plenty of bragging rights at stake.
Others to watch: Thursday: Coral Gables vs. Southwest (Tropical), 7; Friday: Belen at Monsignor Pace; Saturday: Norland vs. Killian (Tropical), 7.
Oct. 31: District tiebreakers
Nov. 10-11: Regional semifinals (Class 4A-1A); Regional quarterfinals (Class 8A-5A)
Nov. 18: Regional finals (Class 4A-1A); Regional semifinals (Class 8A-5A)
Nov. 25: State semifinals (Class 4A-1A); Regional finals (Class 8A-5A)
Dec. 2-3: Class 4A-1A state championships (Orlando); State semifinals (Class 8A-5A)
Dec. 9-10: Class 8A-5A state championships (Orlando)