High School Sports

Andre C. Fernandez previews Class 8A football regionals

Miramar receiver Khalil Lewis scores a touchdown in the second quarter after breaking loose from Cypress Bay’s Danny Montoya at Miramar High School, Oct. 24, 2014.
Miramar receiver Khalil Lewis scores a touchdown in the second quarter after breaking loose from Cypress Bay’s Danny Montoya at Miramar High School, Oct. 24, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Flanagan and Killian are among the four South Florida teams that survived the regular season undefeated.

But although they look like favorites right now, a closer look at the south side of the Class 8A bracket shows a wide open race that can be won by any number of teams.

This week, the picture starts to clear up with huge games such as Miramar against Monarch.

And title defenses begin at Booker T. Washington, Central, American Heritage and Champagnat Catholic.

Let the mayhem begin:

▪ Region 3-8A quarterfinal — 10. Miramar (7-3) vs. 11. Monarch (9-1), at Deerfield Beach: The first major playoff clash in Class 8A features Monarch and its high-powered offense taking on Miramar’s stout “Dark Side” defense. The Knights have averaged 49.2 points per game in nine victories this season and were undefeated until a recent loss to Dillard.

This will be Monarch’s greatest challenge to date by far.

Despite a tumultuous season in which its coach resigned and the team has faced allegations of ineligible players, Miramar hopes to regroup under interim coach A.J. Scott and make a run to Orlando.

The Patriots have had trouble finishing games against elite opponents this season. Miramar’s defense might finally help them figure it out in this one. Andre’s pick: Miramar 21, Monarch 17.

▪ Region 3-8A quarterfinal — 19. Coral Springs (7-3) at 4. Flanagan (10-0): Coral Springs qualified for the playoffs for only the third time ever and first time since 2009. The Colts’ offense will have a tough time doing anything against Flanagan’s stingy defense, however. The Falcons look like the most complete team in the region. Andre’s pick: Flanagan 38, Coral Springs 7.

▪ Region 4-8A quarterfinal — 15. Southridge (7-3) at 16. Belen (7-3), 3, Friday: Belen is historically tough to beat at home. But this Southridge team looks like it’s building something good for the next few years. Andre’s pick: Southridge 21, Belen 17.

▪ Region 4-8A quarterfinal — 9. Coral Gables (8-2) vs. 14. North Miami (9-1) at N. Miami Stadium: One of the more intriguing matchups in the first round pits North Miami and quarterback Hilton Joseph, Dade’s leading passer, against Gables’ stingy defense.

The Pioneers were ousted in a rout against Columbus in this round last season. This time, figure North Miami to be more competitive. But if Gables can run the ball, it should make the difference. Andre’s pick: Coral Gables 21, North Miami 14.

▪ Region 4-8A quarterfinal — 6. Killian (10-0) vs. 20. Southwest (8-2) 7:30, Fri., at Tropical Park: Killian’s defense is state-championship caliber, and its offense is starting to pick things up behind its running game. Not a good formula for Southwest. Andre’s pick: Killian 27, Southwest 7.

▪ Region 4-8A quarterfinal — North Miami Beach (4-6) at 7. Columbus (9-1), 5, Thursday: Other than a bad loss to Central, Columbus has looked dominant throughout the season and could be the most complete Dade team in this bracket. A comfortable win opens their state title bid. Andre’s pick: Columbus 38, NMB 6.

▪ Region 4-6A quarterfinal — Northwestern (5-5) at 5. Hallandale (9-0), 7:30, Friday: A few days after Northwestern made it back to the postseason by winning the District 16-6A tiebreaker, it suffered one of its worst losses ever to Jackson in the Soul Bowl. Now, the Bulls must pick up the pieces and travel to Hallandale.

The Chargers have a solid running game and passing game and a stout defense that has been tested by some of the state’s best offenses. Andre’s pick: Hallandale 24, Northwestern 14.

▪ Region 4-6A quarterfinal — 2. Central (9-1) vs. Boynton Beach (9-1), 7:30, Friday at Traz: To see Boynton Beach quarterback Lamar Jackson match up against that stingy Central defense might be worth the price of the ticket. The Rockets wear the Tigers down and keep their three-peat bid going. Andre’s pick: Central 45, Boynton Beach 21.

▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — 13. American (9-1) vs. 18. Plantation (7-3), 7:30, Fri., Milander: If American’s offense plays like it did against Carol City, it won’t survive this round. If it does better, it can end its two-year jinx against Plantation. Andre’s pick: American 13, Plantation 10.

▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Mater Academy (7-3) at 3. St. Thomas Aquinas (9-1), 7:30, Friday: Congrats to Mater for making the playoffs for the first time. The team with seven state championships has the edge. Andre’s pick: Aquinas 45, Mater Academy 3.

▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Delray Atlantic (8-2) at Blanche Ely (6-4), 7:30, Friday: Ely has won five of its past six games and has some momentum after winning the Soul Bowl. And it’s just enough to secure a close win in this round. Andre’s pick: Ely 28, Atlantic 27.

▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Fort Lauderdale (3-6) at Royal Palm Beach (9-1), 7:30, Friday: The Flying L’s finally made it back to the postseason, but getting through this one is another story. Andre’s pick: Royal Palm Beach 42, Fort Lauderdale 10.

▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Immokalee (4-6) at 8. American Heritage (7-3), 7:30, Friday: After a brutal schedule, this is just the first win in the Patriots’ repeat championship run in Class 5A. Andre’s pick: American Heritage 38, Immokalee 14.

▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — 17. Jackson (6-4) at Naples Lely (7-3), 7:30, Friday: The improved Generals ride the Soul Bowl momentum to a win in Naples. Andre’s pick: Jackson 27, Lely 17.

MORE PICKS

▪ Region 4-4A semifinal — 1. Booker T. Washington (10-0) vs. Somerset Academy (2-8), 7:30, Thursday at Traz Powell. Andre’s pick: Booker T. 58, Somerset 3.

▪ Region 4-4A semifinal – Gulliver (6-4) at Belle Glade Glades Central (8-2). Andre’s pick: Glades Central 22, Gulliver 14.

▪ Region 4-3A semifinal — West Palm Cardinal Newman (4-5) at 12. Westminster Christian (9-1), 2:30, Friday. Andre’s pick: Westminster Christian 36, Cardinal Newman 14.

▪ Region 4-3A semifinal — Chaminade-Madonna (4-5) at American Heritage-Delray (8-1). Andre’s pick: American Heritage 44, Chaminade 6.

▪ Region 4-2A semifinal — Jupiter Christian (5-5) vs. Champagnat Catholic (6-4), 7, Fri., Betty Ferguson Park. Andre’s pick: Champagnat 38, Jupiter Christian 6.

▪ Region 4-2A semifinal — Dade Christian (6-4) at Belle Glade Glades Day (8-2). Andre’s pick: Glades Day 20, Dade Christian 13.

▪ SFC championship — Coral Springs Charter (7-2) vs. Calvary Christian (9-0), 7, Sat., FAU. Andre’s pick: Charter 34, Calvary Christian 31.

Andre’s Dade record — Last week: 19-7; Season: 254-54 (.825).

Andre’s Broward record — Last week: 13-2; Season: 218-47 (.823).

NOTE: All games at 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted.

The Miami Herald’s South Florida Football Top 20

1. Booker T. Washington (10-0)

2. Central (9-1)

3. St. Thomas Aquinas (9-1)

4. Flanagan (10-0)

5. Hallandale (9-0)

6. Killian (10-0)

7. Columbus (9-1)

8. American Heritage (7-3)

9. Coral Gables (8-2)

10. Miramar (7-3)

11. Monarch (9-1)

12. Westminster Christian (9-1)

13. American (9-1)

14. North Miami (9-1)

15. Southridge (7-3)

16. Belen (7-3)

17. Jackson (6-4)

18. Coral Springs (7-3)

19. Plantation (7-3)

20. Southwest (8-2)

Dropped out: 17. Northwestern (5-5).

Under consideration: Mater Academy (7-3), Blanche Ely (6-4), Gulliver (6-4).

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