High School Sports

Opponents should never underestimate the Northwestern Bulls football team. Here is why 

When reporters are on tight deadlines on a Friday night game, sometimes we need to “fudge” a little and start writing our lead at some point in the second half if one team pulls ahead in order to be able to make our desk editors happy.

When Central scored early in the third quarter last Friday night to take a 14-0 lead on Northwestern before a packed house on a big night at Traz Powell Stadium, my fingers started “cheating” on my lap top.

I should’ve known better. Because when you’re talking about the Northwestern Bulls, you’re talking about a team that virtually thrives on jumping up off the operating table after being given up for dead.

In a microcosm of their 2018 season, one in which they shocked perhaps even themselves by winning their final seven games and a state title after a 3-5 start, the Bulls did again last week.

They scored 23 unanswered points on the Rockets and, just when it looked like Central might rally after scoring late to cut its deficit to three, Northwestern clinched it on a late Nathaniel Noel touchdown. Re-write time — and quick.

Now 4-2, Northwestern should roll to easy wins over the next three weeks against district opponents Miami Springs, Key West and Jackson before finishing the regular season against Edison. An 8-2 finish is likely.

That’s good news and bad news for the Bulls. Good because they’ll be a high seed in Region 4-5A when the playoffs begin. Bad because they won’t be able to sneak up on anybody in the postseason this year the way they did last year when everybody had given up on them.

A word of warning to any future Bulls opponents including Plantation American Heritage which could be a monster matchup in the playoffs. If you have the Bulls down on the ground ready to put them away, they might just have you right where they want you.

This week’s top 20

1. St. Thomas Aquinas; 2. Plantation American Heritage; 3. Northwestern; 4. South Dade; 5. Central; 6. Chaminade-Madonna; 7. Palmetto; 8. Dillard; 9. University School; 10. Western; 11. Booker T. Washington; 12. Deerfield Beach; 13. Carol City; 14. Cardinal Gibbons; 15. Columbus 16. Plantation; 17. Gulliver Prep; 18. Douglas; 19. Monarch; 20. Calvary Christian. Knocking on the door: Champagnat, Miramar, North Miami Beach, McArthur, Killian, Ft. Lauderdale, Blanche Ely, Westminster Academy.

This week’s top games

No. 16 Plantation (6-0) at No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-0), Friday, 7: There is a reason, despite being 6-0, that Plantation is not higher in the Top 20 ranking. The Colonels really haven’t been challenged with a difficult schedule, a 46-16 win against Fort Lauderdale being the closest thing to a quality win.

That all ends Friday as coach Steve Davis, who always does a great job with his program, takes his team into Brian Piccolo Stadium to take on the state’s No. 1 ranked team and USA Today’s national No. 1 team.

Plantation might hang in there for awhile but St. Thomas will eventually pull away and wrap up first place in District 14-7A. These two could meet up again in the postseason. BD’s Pick: Aquinas 37-14.

No. 15 Columbus (4-2) at No. 9 University School (5-1), Friday, 7: A game between two evenly matched teams. After a rough patch a few weeks ago, the Explorers appear to have righted the ship with wins over Miami High and Pace. But they’re about to find out that University School is no Miami High or Pace as Coach Danny Luque has his Sharks playing at a very high level. This one should be close but I think the home field lifts U. School to a big win. BD’s Pick: University 24-20.

Krop (6-0) at Goleman (6-0), Friday, 3:30: Ah yes, we finally show the “little guys” some love. Nobody will play in the state playoffs here but this will be a showdown for first place in a newly-formed group of 12 teams (6 teams in each division) who are competing independently from the FHSAA state series. These two clearly have emerged as the two best teams out of this dozen and this could be a preview of the league’s scheduled championship game on November 9. BD’s Pick: Krop 27-20.

Rest of the top 20

2. Plantation American Heritage (5-1) at Stranahan (4-2), Friday, 7, Dillard HS: Patriots are coming off big win at Gibbons last week and will need to guard against a letdown. Should not be an issue here. BD’s Pick: Heritage 41-17.

3. Northwestern (4-2) vs. Miami Springs (2-5), Friday, 7:30, Traz Powell: Springs could only wish that they could start the running clock at kickoff. This will get very ugly very fast. BD’s Pick: NW 55-0.

4. South Dade (6-0) vs. Southwest (2-4), Friday, 7:30, Harris Field: Bucs actually slipped one spot this week after a flat performance against winless Southridge last week but will keep rolling here. BD’s Pick: South Dade 40-14.

5. Central (5-2) vs. Norland (2-3), Saturday, 7, Traz Powell: Rockets are smarting from last week’s loss to NW but can’t take the Vikings for granted. Norland will show up to play and this is a district contest. BD’s Pick: Central 34-15.

6. Chaminade-Madonna (5-1) at Pahokee (1-4), Friday, 7: This once was a tough game for Dade or Broward teams traveling to a tough venue. Not this year as Blue Devils are down. BD’s Pick: Chaminade 40-16.

7. Palmetto (5-1) vs. Coral Reef (3-4), Thursday, 7:30, Southridge HS: Panthers should be fresh from a week off and will roll to a district win. BD’s Pick: Palmetto 40-9.

8. Dillard (7-0) vs. Hollywood Hills (2-4), Saturday, 7: Panthers will finally get tested next week against Columbus and not let up here. BD’s Pick: Dillard 44-7.

10. Western (5-1) at Piper (0-6), Friday, 7: A running clock special if there ever was one. BD’s Pick: Western 48-6.

11. Booker T. Washington (5-2) vs. American (2-4), Friday, 7:30, Milander: Tornadoes will name their score. BD’s Pick: BTW 41-7.

12. Deerfield Beach (4-2) vs. Boca Raton Spanish River (0-6), Friday, 7: Bucks get back at it after a week off and eyeing big one against St. Thomas next week. BD’s Pick: Deerfield Beach 45-6.

13. Carol City (3-4) vs. Edison (3-3), Thursday, 7, Traz Powell: Chiefs got a big win on the road last week but can’t take talented Red Raiders for granted. BD’s Pick: Carol City 33-14.

14. Cardinal Gibbons (4-2) vs. McArthur (3-2), Friday, 7: Chiefs stinging from a tough loss to Heritage last week but will need to show up ready to go against a good and upset-minded Mustang team. BD’s Pick: Gibbons 30-17.

17. Gulliver Prep. (6-0) at North Palm Beach Benjamin (4-2), Friday, 7: Raiders enter a tough three-game gauntlet with their first test in awhile. BD’s Pick: Gulliver 24-19.

18. Douglas (5-0) vs. West Broward (1-6), Friday, 7: After a big district win over Taravella last week, Eagles get a breather this week. BD’s Pick: Douglas 41-9.

19. Monarch (6-1) at Boca Raton (3-3), Friday, 7: With a big one against Deerfield on deck, Knights need to guard against a letdown on the road. BD’s Pick: Monarch 30-20.

20. Calvary Christian (7-0) at West Palm Beach Kings Academy (4-3), Friday, 7: With Gulliver on deck next week and following a big win over Benjamin last week, classic sandwich game for Eagles who will need to be careful here. BD’s Pick: Calvary 30-21.

Other games

Thursday: Miami-Dade: Hialeah-Miami Lakes vs. Mourning (Ives Estates), 3:30: HML 48-6; Doral vs. North Miami (Ives Estates), 7: NM 20-17; Miami Beach vs. Homestead (Harris), 7: Homestead 16-14; Hialeah Gardens vs. Westland Hialeah (Milander), 7: HG 42-8; Braddock vs. Varela (Tropical), 7: Braddock 23-17; Miami Country Day at Florida Christian, 7: FC 40-8; Broward: Taravella at Nova, 7: Taravella 35-7.

Friday: Miami-Dade: Coral Park at Sunset, 3:30: Sunset 21-13; Reagan at Ferguson, 3:30: Reagan 27-21; Mater Academy at Hialeah, 3:30: Hialeah 51-6; Everglades Prep. at Miami Christian, 4: MC 28-20; Westminster Christian at Palmer Trinity, 4: PT 21-20; North Broward Pep. at Somerset Silver Palms, 4: NBP 24-22; Miami High vs. Coral Gables (Tropical), 7:30: MHS 21-20; Champagnat at Belen Jesuit, 7:30: Champagnat 28-17; Jackson at Key West, 7: KW 27-23; South Miami at Southridge, 7:30: Southridge 23-17; Glades Central at Monsignor Pace, 7:30: Glade Central 23-20; Palm Glades Prep. at St. Brendan, 7: STB 35-13; Broward: North Miami Beach at Hallandale, 7: NMB 30-16; Olympic Heights at Blanche Ely, 7: Ely 34-12; Pompano Beach at Coral Glades, 7: Glades 38-6; Cypress Bay at Flanagan, 7: Flanagan 20-17; Miramar at Everglades, 7: Miramar 41-8; Archbishop McCarthy at Boyd Anderson, 7: BA 38-7; South Plantation vs. Ft. Lauderdale (Northeast HS), 7: FTL 27-14; Northeast at Pine Crest, 7: Pine Crest 33-8; Somerset Academy Key at Westminster Academy, 7: WA 49-6; Suncoast at Coconut Creek, 7: Creek 34-12; Coral Springs Charter at Melbourne Holy Trinity, 7: Holy Trinity 24-21; Somerset Academy at Marathon, 7: SA 33-13

Last week: 36-6 (overall); 15-1 (top 20).

Season: 246-56 (overall); 92-13 (top 20)

Bill Daley can be reached at: billd@curtispub.net. Follow him on Twitter: @Billykid11

Have a score you want to get in? Results from how your team did? Email to hssports@miamiherald.com