5. SOUTHRIDGE (1-0) VS. 8. COLUMBUS (1-1) 7:30, FRIDAY, TROPICAL.
The Southridge football team hasn’t looked this good on paper this century.
With its deepest roster in quite some time, the Spartans, who have won two state titles in their history, are aiming to win a third this season in Class 8A.
This is the game Southridge needs to start living up to the hype.
The Spartans have not allowed a point in five-plus quarters following a 39-0 rout of Krop and a rain-shortened contest against Edison.
A win over Columbus would mean much more.
It wouldn’t be decisive because both teams could meet again in the regional finals.
But it would send a clear message that Southridge is as good as advertised and ready to truly contend for a state championship.
Columbus has struggled out of the gate, losing to Boyd Anderson in the preseason, winning sloppy against Jackson and dropping a heartbreaker last week to Northwestern.
The Explorers’ defense remains a solid part of their team.
But Columbus’ offense, while able to run the football, needs to develop more consistency in its passing game if it’s to play again in December as it has in recent seasons.
A loss wouldn’t hurt Columbus’ playoff hopes, but a win would certainly breed confidence it can still achieve its ultimate goal.
Southridge’s defense typically sets the tone.
Last week, the Spartans ran for six touchdowns, led by Bentavious Thompson. They also have a talented group of receivers who would make them even more dangerous if the passing game heats up.
If they can establish themselves against a tough Explorers’ front seven, look for Southridge to earn its first major victory of the season.
Andre’s pick: Southridge 14, Columbus 7.
4. AMERICAN HERITAGE (2-0) VS. 6. NORTHWESTERN (2-0) 7:30, FRIDAY, TRAZ.
These two teams are very similar in style and in what makes them successful.
Each has punishing defenses and solid running games.
Each has dual-threat quarterbacks in Northwestern’s Tutu Atwell and American Heritage’s Jason Brown.
Each quarterback can hurt opponents with their legs and their arm.
Atwell, in his third year as the Bulls’ starter, is proving himself to be very dangerous with a young receiving core and the solid running of Kai Henry to back him up.
The slight edge likely favors Heritage in terms of experience.
The Patriots have numerous seniors that have already endured a tough early season slate and have come up with huge wins against Colquitt County from Georgia and Don Bosco Prep from New Jersey.
Northwestern looks like a solid playoff contender and will continue to learn and improve from this game, regardless of the outcome.
Andre’s pick: American Heritage 14, Northwestern 10.
CARDINAL GIBBONS (2-0) AT 14. CHAMINADE (1-0) 4, FRIDAY.
Chaminade has high hopes of making a run for the Class 3A state championship this season.
The Lions found themselves in a dogfight with a much-improved North Miami Beach squad last week.
They prevailed when quarterback Henry Colombi threw a clutch touchdown pass with 1:24 to pull away for good.
Cardinal Gibbons has blown out its first two opponents — Everglades and Plantation — by a combined 104-0.
This is a solid measuring stick game for both teams as they move forward into their respective district schedules in the coming weeks.
Andre’s pick: Chaminade 24, Cardinal Gibbons 17.
19. SOUTH DADE (1-1) VS. NORLAND (2-1) 7:30, FRIDAY, N. MIAMI.
These two battled in a defensive struggle at Harris Field last season won by the Bucs, 7-6. Figure this one will be another similar battle as both teams are trying to find their way on offense. The Vikings have proven they can win tough games with defense so far.
Andre’s pick: Norland 10, South Dade 3.