Rematch week could mean redemption for Carol City or the next big step in what’s been a renaissance for Northwestern.
Most rightfully figured the first meeting was a warm-up to this clash of traditional Miami-Dade County powerhouses each of which is looking to take one more vital step toward becoming a state champion again.
Region 4-6A semifinal – Carol City (6-3) vs. Northwestern (10-1) at Traz Powell: Northwestern hasn’t made it past second round since 2008 when Teddy Bridgewater was flinging the ball for the Bulls.
Carol City hasn’t since 2004 – the year after they won their last state title. The Chiefs fell in the state semifinals that year to eventual state champion Killian. Carol City has won only three playoff games since that season.
Since 2010, the Bulls have alternated years making and not making the playoffs under three different coaches.
But what Max Edwards has done in two years is bring stability and discipline both on and off the field to a squad that needed such a change to return to its glory days.
Carol City leads the all-time series 4-2, winning the two previous meetings in 2003 and 2004.
Carol City has plenty of firepower especially if its backfield is healthy with a motivated Davis and healthy Nayquan Wright complementing its explosive passing game.
Northwestern’s tough formula of hard-nosed running and opportunistic defense, however, has risen to the occasion all season.
Andre’s pick: Northwestern 14, Carol City 13.
Region 3-8A semifinal – Deerfield Beach (8-2) at Flanagan (9-2): These two meet in the playoffs for the third time in the past four years. Deerfield eliminated Flanagan in overtime in 2013 when the Falcons were starting to become the perennial contender they are now. Flanagan got some revenge last season on its way to its first state championship.
Deerfield Beach has had a couple of hiccups this season, but has looked like one of the most balanced teams in wide open Class 8A. This is the week the Bucks need to be consistent offensively if they are to clear one of their biggest obstacles. Andre’s pick: Deerfield Beach 14, Flanagan 7.
Region 4-4A final – Edison (8-1) vs. Booker T. Washington (8-3), 7, Thursday, Traz Powell: The Red Raiders’ last playoff game before this season was a loss to Booker T. Washington. The Tornadoes bested Edison 34-18 earlier this season. Booker T. is expected to prevail, but Edison has a chance to surprise. Andre’s pick: Booker T. Washington 30, Edison 27.
Region 4-8A semifinal – Coral Gables (9-1) vs. Columbus (7-3), 7, Thursday, Tropical Park: This heated rivalry is renewed in the postseason for the fifth consecutive year with Columbus owning a 3-1 edge during that span. If the Explorers defense plays lights out again, their offense score just enough to secure victory. Andre’s pick: Columbus 14, Coral Gables 10.
Region 4-8A semifinal – Palmetto (9-1) at Southridge (8-2): The Panthers pulled off the most dramatic wins of the first round to secure their first playoff win since 2008. Southridge is on a pretty remarkable defensive run right now. Andre’s pick: Southridge 21, Palmetto 7.
Region 4-5A final - Cardinal Gibbons (9-1) at Plantation American Heritage (10-0): Gibbons won its first playoff game since 2006 last week in convincing fashion against Suncoast. The Chiefs’ high-powered offense has led it to their best season in quite some time. But in their first encounter with American Heritage’s defense, Gibbons had a tough time consistently moving the ball. The Patriots defense will make enough plays to make the difference again. Andre’s pick: American Heritage 20, Cardinal Gibbons 14.
Region 4-7A semifinal – Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (10-0) at St. Thomas Aquinas (8-2): Dwyer shocked Aquinas in the playoffs in 2013. The Raiders haven’t forgotten what a dangerous foe the Panthers can be. Andre’s pick: Aquinas 35, Dwyer 17.
Region 4-7A semifinal – McArthur (11-0) vs. Mater Academy (9-1) at Milander: The Mustangs overwhelmed Doral last week with their overall athleticism and playmaking ability. Mater may have a similar issue slowing them down this week. Andre’s pick: McArthur 34, Mater Academy 27.
Region 4-3A final – West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy (10-1) at Chaminade-Madonna (7-3) at Cooper City: The Lions will be underdogs against an Oxbridge squad many think can reach Orlando in this classification. Andre’s pick: Oxbridge 40, Chaminade 31.
Region 4-2A final – Naples First Baptist (8-3) vs. Champagnat Catholic (9-1) at North Miami Stadium: An even stronger Naples foe awaits the Lions, who just barely edged by Community School last week. Andre’s pick: First Baptist 38, Champagnat 32.
Gold Coast Conference championship – North Broward Prep (9-2) at Archbishop McCarthy (9-1), 7, Thursday: McCarthy’s running game, led by Jacob Baptiste, leads it to back-to-back conference titles. Andre’s pick: McCarthy 31, North Broward Prep 24.
NOTE: All games at 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted otherwise.
Andre’s record – (Dade) Last week: 11-1; Season: 246-48; (Broward) Last week: 12-1; Season: 214-44; Playoffs (Dade): 11-1; (Broward): 12-1.