At last, after more than two months of buildup, the now-designated “Game of the Year” in not only South Florida but perhaps the entire state has arrived.
Carol City and Central, arguably the two best teams in the state regardless of classification, will square off Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium at 7:30 p.m. in a game that figures to be a real treat for anybody that makes it there.
But if you plan on going, you had best arrive early because there is no guarantee tickets will be available.
I reached out to Traz Powell Stadium Director Ira Fluitt on Tuesday morning following a meeting with both schools to formulate a plan leading up to the game.
Tickets, at $12 each, went on sale Monday morning at both participating schools and will remain on sale until Friday at 2 p.m. At that time, any remaining tickets will be transferred over to Traz for pre-game sale.
“Our total capacity on both sides combined is 7,000,” said Fluitt. “We have set up temporary bleachers in order to accommodate both bands in order to make every seat available. We’re looking forward to an exciting night between two great teams.”
While clearly the headline event, Central/CC will only be one of many “showdown” games this weekend. In addition to the Rockets and Chiefs deciding District 16-6A, Columbus and Coral Gables will determine the District 14-8A champion at Tropical on Friday night, which will be preceded by Belen/Southwest in the afternoon to determine the District 15-8A champ. Southridge will host South Dade with a chance to wrap up District 16-8A while a Bucs victory could throw things into a three-way tie with Palmetto if the Panthers defeat Killian on Thursday night.
North Miami and Hialeah will decide District 13-8A at Milander Stadium and, not to be outdone, Broward will have two deciding games, Deerfield Beach at Piper (District 11-8A) and Western at Miramar (District 12-8A).
By now you get the picture. If you can’t get into high school football in South Florida this weekend, you can’t get into high school football. It should be a great weekend. Enjoy the action.
This week’s top 20
1. Carol City; 2. Central; 3. St. Thomas Aquinas; 4. Deerfield Beach; 5. Columbus; 6. University School; 7. Chaminade-Madonna; 8. Cardinal Gibbons; 9. Plantation American Heritage; 10. Palmetto; 11. South Dade; 12. Southridge; 13. McArthur; 14. Western; 15. Plantation; 16. Dillard; 17. Hialeah; 18. Northwestern; 19. Booker T. Washington; 20. Westminster Christian
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Miami Christian, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, Piper, Belen Jesuit
No. 2 Central (8-1) vs. No. 1 Carol City (8-0), Friday, 7:30 at Traz Powell: I wish I had a quarter for every time I was asked who was going to win this game over the last two weeks. And my answer was the same: I don’t know. But I can’t duck anymore. Time to make a pick.
The atmosphere figures to be absolutely electric on Friday night, but the irony of all of it is that no matter who wins, this will likely be the first of two meetings. With the winner virtually locking up the No. 1 seed in the region and the loser the top at-large spot (No. 5), the Chiefs and Rockets will be right back at it in a Nov. 16 regional semifinal barring any kind of stunning first round upset.
As far as this week? It’s about as even a matchup as you can get. I swore that I would not pick against the Rockets again after their Week 1 rout of Cardinal Gibbons in which I picked Gibbons (and punished myself by writing on the blackboard 100 times “I will not pick against Central”).
I’ll go ahead and follow up on my promise and go with Central to knock CC from its No. 1 perch and assume the top spot. The only bad news for whoever wins is that they might have to do it all over again in three weeks when it really counts.
BD’s Pick: Central 26-24.
Coral Gables (5-3) vs. No. 5 Columbus (8-1), Friday, 7:30 at Tropical Park: The rivalry is as bitter as it gets between these two schools so look for plenty of fireworks on Friday night at Tropical. Gables has had a nice revival year with the return of Roger Pollard to the coaching sidelines but the Explorers, with their only loss to Carol City, have been solid all season. Look for Columbus to frustrate their rivals again and wrap up another district title.
BD’s Pick: Columbus 23-14.
No. 11 South Dade (7-1) at No. 12 Southridge (6-2), Friday, 7:30: South Dade suffered its first loss last week, a tough overtime defeat to Palmetto. Thus if the Bucs can bounce back and find a way to knock off the Spartans on their field Friday night, it would throw District 16-8A into a three-way tie with points ultimately deciding the winner. But I’m going to go with the Ridge here to find a way to win and wrap up the district title, leaving the Bucs and Palmetto as wild card entries. BD’s Pick: Southridge 20-16
No. 14 Western (7-1) at Miramar (5-3), Friday, 7: This game has come down the final possession each of the last two years to determine the District 12-8A champion, and that’s a distinct possibility again. Miramar lost its first three games to open the season but has now won five straight. The Wildcats had only one stumble in a two-point loss to Dillard. With perhaps the home field helping them out along with the Darkside defense, I’ll give the slight edge to the Patriots here. BD’s Pick: Miramar 19-17.
The rest of the top 20
3. St. Thomas Aquinas (7-1) vs. Blanche Ely (1-7), Friday, 7: Little drama here as the Raiders officially lock up district title. BD’s Pick: Aquinas 48-9.
4. Deerfield Beach (8-1) at Piper (6-2), Friday, 7: Piper has had a nice season but would appear to be overmatched here against talented Bucks in a showdown for District 11-8A title. BD’s Pick: Deerfield Beach 37-17.
6. University School (8-0) at Melbourne Central Catholic (5-3), Friday, 7: The Sharks make three-hour trip upstate looking for nine consecutive running-clock wins. BD’s Pick: University School 41-16.
7. Chaminade-Madonna (6-2) at Flanagan (1-7), Friday, 7: The Lions will name their score and empty the bench quickly. BD’s Pick: Chaminade 44-7
8. Cardinal Gibbons (6-2) vs. Stranahan (1-7), Friday, 7 at South Plantation: The Chiefs have wrapped everything up and are now in cruise control. BD’s Pick: Gibbons 41-9
9. Plantation American Heritage (6-2) at Hallandale (4-4), Friday, 7: Playing for wild card seeding only, the Patriots will need to guard against a letdown. BD’s Pick: Heritage 33-14
10. Palmetto (7-1) vs. Killian (3-5), Thursday, 7 at Southridge: A battle for the Big Cat trophy might not be much of one as the Panthers should roll. BD’s Pick: Palmetto 38-13
13. McArthur (8-0) at Boyd Anderson (4-4), Friday, 7: The Mustangs are looking for a perfect regular season and should keep rolling here. BD’s Pick: McArthur 34-15
15. Plantation (7-1) at South Plantation (0-8), Saturday, 7: A rivalry game that won’t be much of one as South Plant may not win a game this year. BD’s Pick: Plantation 38-6
16. Dillard (6-2) at Boynton Beach (1-7), Friday, 7: The Panthers keep rolling, tuning up for the postseason. BD’s Pick: Dillard 40-12
17. Hialeah (7-1) vs. North Miami (5-3), Friday, 7:30, (Milander): This one will determine the 13-8A champion. Look for things to continue trending in the right direction for the T-Breds as they win their first district title in 13 years. BD’s PICK: Hialeah 28-21.
18. Northwestern (3-5) vs. Norland (3-5), Thursday, 7, (Traz Powell): An important game for the Bulls who have to be worn down after back-to-back losses to Carol City and Central and can’t afford three in a row. BD’s PICK: Northwestern 30-17.
19. Booker T. Washington (4-5) vs. Orlando Evans (1-6), Friday, 3:30 (Traz Powell): TheTornadoes finish up regular season with a rare “easy one.” BD’s Pick: BTW 38-9
20. Westminster Christian (8-0) vs. Somerset Academy (3-5), Friday, 4: The Warriors should cruise and complete a perfect regular season. BD’s Pick: Westminster 35-9.
THURSDAY: Miami-Dade: North Miami Beach at Hialeah Gardens, 3:30, NMB 30-12; Braddock vs. Coral Reef, 3:30, (Harris), Braddock 27-14; Doral vs. Mourning, 3:30, (Ives Estates), Doral 49-0; Miami Beach vs. Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 3:30 (Milander), Beach 17-13; Mater Academy vs. Westland Hialeah, 7:30, (Milander), Mater 48-6; Miami High vs. Coral Park, 7, (Tropical), MHS 37-8; American vs. Krop, 7:30 (Ives Estates), American 28-13; Edison vs. Homestead, 7:30, (Harris), Homestead 24-20. Broward: Cooper City vs. West Broward, 7, (Flanagan), WB 27-23; Coral Glades vs. Ft. Lauderdale, 7, (Northeast), FTL 40-14; Boca St. Andrew’s vs. Coral Springs Charter, 7, (Coral Glades), CSC 38-16;
FRIDAY: Miami-Dade: Ferguson at Varela, 3:30, Ferguson 34-7; ISB at Goleman, 4, Goleman 34-12; Belen vs. Southwest, 3:30, (Tropical), Belen 31-16; South Miami vs. Miami Springs, 3:30, (Milander), SM 23-20; Sunset at Reagan, 3:30, Reagan 21-16; Everglades Prep. at Miami Christian, 3:30, MC 34-13; Champagnat at Nation Christian Academy, 7, Champagnat 40-12; Gulliver Prep. at LaSalle, 7:30, Gulliver 38-14; Coconut Creek vs. Jackson, 7:30, (Curtis), Jackson 21-20 Broward: Archbishop McCarthy at Northeast, 7, AM 24-12; Calvary Christian at Ft. Pierce John Carroll, 7, CC 33-21; Taravella at Coral Springs, 7, Taravella 34-17; Everglades at Cypress Bay, 7, CB 27-9; Douglas vs. Monarch, 7, (Coconut Creek), Douglas 24-21; Hollywood Hills at South Broward, 7, SB 27-16; Pine Crest at North Broward Prep., 7, NBP 24-23; Ft. Pierce Westwood at Pompano Beach, 7, Westwood 30-13
Last week top-20: 14-1; Season top-20: 113-19; Last week overall: 38-6; Season overall: 332-83
Bill Daley can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Billykid11