This afternoon at Tropical Park, the 2016 high school football season officially kicks off as South Miami takes on Varela.
Consider it an appetizer for what should be a memorable opening week in South Florida.
The main course comes Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium in what could be a match-up for the ages as St. Thomas Aquinas and Booker T. Washington square off in a battle of nationally ranked, powerhouse teams.
Although the Raiders walloped Booker T. last year in Fort Lauderdale to snap the Tornadoes 41-game winning streak, this year’s game has been anticipated for months as two of South Florida’s top programs meet.
The Raiders have won nine state championships with a pair of mythical national titles. Booker T. has five state championships and one on the national stage.
In last week’s preseason tuneups, Aquinas blew past host Dillard 51-0; the Tornadoes ran away from nationally-ranked American Heritage 27-7.
A victory Friday keeps the winner in the national title talk as Aquinas is the top-ranked team by USA Today with Booker T. ranked sixth.
Aquinas and Booker T. isn’t the only big game in Week 1 although it sure seems like it.
In Broward County, Deerfield Beach visits Hallandale on Friday with the hard-hitting Bucks looking like a serious challenger in Class 8A. Flanagan, the defending 8A champs, play host to West Palm’s Oxbridge Academy on Friday night in a big early-season test for the Falcons.
Boyd Anderson and Chaminade-Madonna, a pair of teams who lost their head coaches on the verge of fall practices, are both off this weekend.
Miami-Dade’s opening week is highlighted by a nice game on Opening Night as Carol City and Coral Gables meet up at Curtis Park Thursday at 7.
▪ THURSDAY’S FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Varela vs. South Miami (Tropical), 3:30
Carol City vs. Coral Gables (Curtis), 7
x-Braddock vs. NMB (N. Miami), 7
x-Sunset vs. Palmetto (Southridge), 7
Miami Country Day at La Salle, 7
Monarch vs. Hollywood Hills (Cooper City), 7
ISB vs. Coral Springs Charter (Coral Glades), 7
McArthur vs. Ralston Valley, Col. (Key West), 7
Homestead vs. Ferguson (Tropical), 7:30
Somerset Charter vs. Silver Creek, Col. (Orlando), 8
▪ FRIDAY’S FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Miami Beach at Reagan, 3:30
Western vs. Goleman (Milander), 4
Boynton Beach S.Canyons at Palmer Trinity, 4
Aukela Christian at Somerset Academy, 4
Champagnat at Westminster Christian, 4
Mourning vs. Krop (Ives Estates), 4
Taravella vs. Orlando Evans (Disney WWOS), 5
x-Mater Academy at Miramar, 7
Keys Gate at Coconut Creek, 7
Highlands Ch.vs. Miami Community Ch.(Florida City), 7
Killian at Jacksonville Sandalwood, 7
Gulliver at Orlando Cel.(West Orange), 7
Monsignor Pace at Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 7
Calusa Prep at Everglades Prep, 7
Oxbridge Academy at Flanagan, 7
Deerfield Beach at Hallandale, 7
South Broward at Cypress Bay, 7
South Plantation at Cooper City, 7
Plantation at Cardinal Gibbons, 7
Coral Springs at Everglades, 7
Archbishop McCarthy at Naples Barron Collier, 7
University School at Nova, 7
Pompano Beach at Calvary Christian, 7
Pines Charter at North Broward Prep, 7
Riviera Beach Inlet Grove at Coral Glades, 7
Piper at Northeast, 7
West Broward at Douglas, 7
Stranahan at Dillard, 7
Blanche Ely at Citra North Marion, 7:30
Fort Lauderdale at Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30
Pinecrest Prep at Doral, 7:30
Marathon at Coral Shores, 7:30
Ransom Everglades at Florida Christian, 7:30
Westminster Academy at Key West, 7:30
St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Booker T. (Traz), 7:30
Central at Clermont East Ridge, 7:30
Columbus vs. Jackson (Curtis), 7:30
Edison at Southridge, 7:30
South Dade vs. Coral Reef (Harris), 7:30
Miami High vs. North Miami (N. Miami), 7:30
Coral Park vs. Southwest (Tropical), 7:30
Hialeah Gardens vs. Westland Hialeah (Milander), 7:30