After 11 weeks of regular-season play, a whole bunch of numbers-crunching and coaches learning to be mathematicians, the FHSAA let every high school football team in the state know Sunday if they were in or out when it came to the state playoffs.
Before the state went to its points system two years ago, the first round used to be more or less a yawner as most games were mismatches followed by a much more interesting second round where so many rematches would take place.
And while there are still plenty of anticipated lopsided games this weekend in Dade and Broward counties, there will also be some interesting matchups that have upset potential.
The highlight game of the week might be Thursday night at Traz Powell.
After spending an entire season wading their way through difficult schedules, especially Carol City, Booker T. Washington and the Chiefs wound up getting matched up against each other in the first round (as No. 4-5 seeds) in the now-coined Region 4-4A “Region of Death” which might present the most interesting postseason drama.
It’s unfortunate these two talented teams didn’t meet in a later round but that’s what happens when you have a region of “stacked” teams. Gulliver Prep. put together a perfect season, finishing as the No. 1 seed and will now enjoy a week off before hosting the BTW/CC winner.
Meanwhile University School managed to outmuscle Cardinal Gibbons for the No. 2 spot and will enjoy a bye week. The Chiefs will host a very dangerous Monsignor Pace team that, after struggling early, got its act together and rallied in the last three weeks to finish 5-5, grabbing the last No. 6 spot.
As far as how I did in this my second season of prognosticating high school football games? I picked a total of 480 games and finished 391-89, which comes out to a winning percentage of 81.4. Pretty darn good and pretty close to last year’s 407-93 mark or 81.6 percent. I also had a separate category, keeping track of my mark with teams in the Top 20 each week and finished a nifty 145-22. Now lets get down to those first round playoff picks.
FINAL TOP 20 RANKINGS
1. St. Thomas Aquinas; 2. Plantation American Heritage; 3. Northwestern; 4. Palmetto; 5. Dillard; 6. Chaminade-Madonna; 7. Booker T. Washington; 8. Gulliver Prep. 9. Central; 10. Cardinal Gibbons; 11. University School; 12. Western; 13. Carol City; 14. Deerfield Beach; 15. Plantation; 16. Champagnat; 17. South Dade; 18. McArthur; 19. Calvary Christian; 20. Hialeah. Knocking on the door: Douglas, Killian, North Miami Beach, Westminster Academy, Columbus.
THIS WEEK’S TOP GAMES
▪ Krop (9-1) vs. Goleman (10-0), Wednesday, 7, Milander: We start first with an actual championship game. This was the first year of the newly-formed GMAC Independent Conference featuring 12 teams (6 south, 6 north) and it’s only appropriate that these two are playing for the championship as both dominated the other 10 all season long. Goleman won this matchup easily three weeks ago (46-21) but I do not anticipate such a lopsided score this time. However, the Gators, who now have graduated to a spread offense, will have enough firepower to come out on top again and complete a perfect season. BD’s pick: Goleman 30-24.
▪ No. 13 Carol City (5-5) vs No. 7 Booker T. Washington (8-2), Thursday, 7, Traz Powell: Probably the best matchup of the week in either county as these two talented teams might put on quite a show. Forget CC’s .500 record as we’ve talked all season about their ridiculous schedule. But the problem for the Chiefs might be the toll that this schedule took on them physically. Granted they’re coming off a bye week two weeks ago and half of one last week (42-0 win over American) but I worry that there could still be some wear-down effect which makes me lean towards the Tornadoes. BD’s Pick: Booker T. Washington 30-24.
▪ No. 17 South Dade (7-3) at No. 12 Western (7-2), Friday, 7:30: A compelling 5-4 matchup that could easily come down to the last possession. After a 7-0 start, South Dade is reeling having dropped its final three regular-season games. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have been solid all season long but their two toughest games, University in September and St. Thomas last week, represent their two losses as they really lack any kind of signature win. I say the Bucs find a way to get it done and set up a much-anticipated potential rematch with Palmetto next week. BD’s Pick: South Dade 24-20.
▪ No. 15 Plantation (8-1) at No. 20 Hialeah (7-3), Friday, 7:30, Milander: The Colonels played all season in the giant shadow of St. Thomas before finally coming away with their first real quality win last week crushing previously unbeaten Douglas on the Eagles home field. Meanwhile the T-Breds got their signature win as well, knocking off South Dade. Thus you have two teams with plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs but only one will emerge a winner. I’ll go with the Colonels in close one. BD’s Pick: Plantation 21-20.
REST OF THE TOP 20
▪ 1. St. Thomas Aquinas (9-0) vs. South Broward (6-4), Friday, 7:30: A terrific job by first year head coach Anthony Collins as South Broward rallied late to make the playoffs. But not much of a reward on the other end having to play the Raiders. BD’s Pick: Aquinas 45-8.
▪ 2. Plantation American Heritage (8-1) vs. Key West (5-5), Friday, 7:30: Key West is about to find out just what playing a team on a different level feels like. BD’s Pick: Heritage 45-6.
▪ 3. Northwestern (8-2) vs. Stranahan (6-4), Saturday, 7, Traz Powell: Stranahan had a nice win last week to make the postseason but Dragons are way out of their league in this one. BD’s Pick: NW 44-9.
▪ 4. Palmetto (9-1) vs. Taravella (5-5), Friday, 7, Tropical Park: Taravella snuck past Cypress Bay to grab the last playoff spot last week but Panthers will make it a short postseason visit for the Trojans. BD’s Pick: Palmetto 38-6.
▪ 5. Dillard (10-0) vs. Naples Lely (6-4), Friday, 7:30: Despite not having a challenging schedule, all the Panthers can do is beat who they play every week which is what they did including a lopsided win over rival Ely last week to nail down a No. 2 seed. BD’s Pick: Dillard 33-14.
▪ 6. Chaminade-Madonna (8-2): Idle.
▪ 8. Gulliver Prep. (10-0): Idle.
▪ 9. Central (7-3) vs. Fort Myers Dunbar (7-3), Friday, 7:30, Traz Powell: It’s been a choppy up and down year for the Rockets who are a surprising No. 4 seed and facing a tough road game at Naples next week. Provided they take care of business here which they should. BD’s Pick: Central 37-12.
▪ 10. Cardinal Gibbons (8-2) vs. Monsignor Pace (5-5), Friday, 7:30: Watch out!! Chiefs need to be on upset alert here as Pace, which looked to be dead in the water three weeks ago, has suddenly put things together under first year coach Mario Perez and could provide some stiff opposition. BD’s Pick: Gibbons 31-21.
▪ 11. University School (8-2): Idle.
▪ 14. Deerfield Beach (7-3) vs. Palm Beach Gardens (7-2), Friday, 7:30: With big things expected at the start of the season, Bucks have been a little disappointing but hoping for a deep playoff run now. BD’s Pick: Deerfield Beach 34-13.
▪ 16. Champagnat (6-3): Idle.
▪ 18. McArthur (7-3) vs. Fort Lauderdale (5-4), Friday, 7:30: McArthur paid for a soft regular season schedule a year ago, getting knocked out in the first round. But Mustangs learned their lesson and scheduled tougher this year which will help them get out of the first round this time. BD’s Pick: McArthur 34-16.
▪ 19. Calvary Christian (9-1): Idle.
OTHER PLAYOFF GAMES
▪ Thursday — Region 4-8A, Coral Gables vs. Columbus, 7, Tropical: Columbus 37-17; Region 4-3A, Boca Raton St. Andrews vs. Somerset Silver Palms, Southridge HS, 7: Silver Palms 31-16.
▪ Friday — Miami-Dade: Region 4-5A, North Miami Beach at Fort Myers Cypress Lake, 7:30: NMB 26-21; Region 4-5A, Killian at Jensen Beach, 7:30: Killian 24-19; Region 4-3A, Edison at Westminster Christian, 3: Edison 27-16; Region 4-2A, Miami Christian at Naples St. John Neumann, 7:30: MC 27-23; Broward: Region 4-8A, Miami High at Douglas, 7:30: Miami High 20-17; Region 4-7A, Blanche Ely at Delray Beach Atlantic, 7:30: Atlantic 35-12.
▪ Last week: 30-9 (overall); 14-1 (top 20).
▪ Season: 391-89 (overall); 145-22 (top 20).
Bill Daley can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Billykid11
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