High School Sports

Andre C. Fernandez: Heritage should outlast Hallandale

American Heritage hosts Hallandale on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in a highly-anticipated matchup that likely will be the first of two and many believe the one that decides the Class 5A state title. Heritage must contain Chargers QB Tyler Huntley.
American Heritage hosts Hallandale on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in a highly-anticipated matchup that likely will be the first of two and many believe the one that decides the Class 5A state title. Heritage must contain Chargers QB Tyler Huntley. For the Miami Herald

It’s championship week in South Florida as 12 districts have yet to be decided. Some such as District 16-8A might have to wait until next Monday to settle things in a tiebreaker. Here’s a look at some of the best matchups:

5. HALLANDALE (7-1) AT 1. AMERICAN HERITAGE (7-1) 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY, HERITAGE

This highly-anticipated matchup will likely be the first of two and many believe the one that decides the Class 5A state championship.

While many on the central to northern end of Florida might dispute this, there’s no doubt two of the best teams statewide will clash Friday on Heritage’s field.

Hallandale quarterback Tyler Huntley has had an incredible season, putting up staggering numbers almost every week. But the only way he and the Chargers pull this off is if they can run the ball with Zack Moss as well as they can throw.

A one-dimensional offense is something Heritage can wear down with its tough defense and take down in the second half.

Andre’s pick: American Heritage 30, Hallandale 28.

6. CORAL GABLES (7-0) VS. 2. COLUMBUS (9-0) 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY, TROPICAL

These two longtime rivals are working on another two-game series to decide who makes it to the Class 8A regional finals.

Columbus had not played the toughest competition prior to last week’s win over Booker T. Washington. In that game, the Explorers showed what they could do when an effective offense matched its stingy defense.

Gables has been a big play team all season with several weapons like Kevin Romer returning kicks for touchdowns and a solid offense and defense.

Where Columbus might have an edge is in the trenches where it is playing much better than it did at the start of the season.

The winner takes the District 14-8A title, and some momentum heading into the rematch in three weeks.

Andre’s pick: Columbus 24, Coral Gables 14.

9. CAROL CITY (6-2) VS. 11. NORTHWESTERN (4-4) 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY, TRAZ POWELL

Things just seem right in Dade County football when traditional powerhouses like Northwestern and Carol City are playing meaningful games like this late in the season.

This is a throwback to the old days.

The season on the line for both teams, with an explosive Carol City offense against a tough Northwestern defense.

For Carol City, a win clinches the District 16-6A championship with Central as the runner-up.

For Northwestern, a win clinches the runner-up playoff berth and gives Central the district title.

A potential difference maker in this game could be Northwestern’s ground game, which along with quarterback Tutu Atwell helped the Bulls control the tempo for most of their win against Norland.

Andre’s pick: Northwestern 15, Carol City 14.

SUNSET (7-1) VS. MATER (7-0) 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY, PACE

Mater clinched a playoff berth for the first time last season under then-coach Javier Valdes, and is within one victory of its first district title in its first year under the direction of former Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo.

The Lions have swept through the district mostly with ease and now face a Sunset team that is one of the turnaround teams of 2015 in Miami-Dade County.

If Sunset can establish the run early with Javier Zuniga, it will have a chance to pull this off.

Mater has plenty of weapons on defense and if it can force turnovers as it has a lot this season, the Lions might have the slight edge.

Andre’s pick: Mater Academy 27, Sunset 24.

19. PIPER (8-0) AT 3. DEERFIELD BEACH (7-1) 7 P.M. FRIDAY, DEERFIELD

Piper has enjoyed a tremendous turnaround season, clinching its first playoff berth since 2003.

The Bengals now face their toughest challenge of the season and an opportunity to prove it can contend for greater milestones.

Deerfield Beach is one of the most talented teams in the state in Class 8A and earned respect as one of the state championship favorites by beating St. Thomas Aquinas a few weeks ago.

The winner locks up the District 11-8A title, a home game in the first round against Plantation and avoids a road trip to Flanagan.

The athleticism and talent advantage is clearly in Deerfield’s corner and should make the difference in this one.

Andre’s pick: Deerfield Beach 30, Piper 14.

Andre C. Fernandez: 305-376-4997, @AndreMHsports

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