Miami-Dade High Schools

The highlights: Belen is under the lights and South Dade is a state title contender

After two decades of having to put sun screen on and bare the brutal afternoon heat of covering numerous games at Belen Jesuit, it was a surreal moment for me last Friday night.

The Wolverines flicked on their new LED lights and for the first time, a Belen football game was played in the evening. The team also rewarded the fans with a convincing victory against Doral.

Night games will take some getting used to at Belen but nobody will miss those afternoon contests.

The other big event last weekend was South Dade’s impressive win over Columbus. Recruiting guru Larry Bluestein agreed that South Dade coach Nate Hudson might be the most underrated coach in South Florida.

Perhaps from playing down in Homestead where things can fly under the radar, Hudson has never gotten the credit he deserves and we forget that he led the Bucs to a state title in 2013.

After last week’s win over the Explorers, there is no more off-the-radar stuff for Hudson and his players, The Bucs are a legitimate threat to make it out of Miami-Dade County in 8A and make the trip to Daytona Beach in December.

They sure won’t be off my radar. I’ll be down there Thursday night to give them a good look when they host Norland.

THIS WEEK’S TOP 20

1. St. Thomas Aquinas; 2. Central; 3. Northwestern; 4. South Dade; 5. Chaminade-Madonna; 6. Western; 7. Carol City; 8. Columbus; 9. Palmetto; 10. Dillard; 11. Plantation American Heritage; 12. University School; 13. Deerfield Beach; 14. Cardinal Gibbons; 15. Plantation; 16. Booker T. Washington; 17. Gulliver Prep; 18. Champagnat; 19. McArthur; 20. Edison. Knocking on the door: Stranahan, Ft. Lauderdale, Miramar, Hialeah, Coconut Creek, Hallandale.

THIS WEEK’S TOP GAMES

No. 16 Booker T. Washington (2-1) at No. 8 Columbus (2-1), Friday, 5 p.m.: The Explorers will host a rate late afternoon contest at their school this week and will be looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to South Dade. But this game won’t be any easier as BTW is putting a nice product together under first year associate head coach Ben Hanks. I’ll take Columbus but not by a lot. BD’s PICK: Columbus 26-20.

No. 7 Carol City (1-2) at No. 5 Chaminade-Madonna (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: In a brutal opening four-game stretch, Carol City, after knocking off Deerfield Beach in its season opener, has suffered back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Central and now hits the road for another tough. The Lions are out of the gate 3-0 but this will be by far their toughest test yet. This one could come down to the final possession and something just tells me CC is not going to lose three in a row. BD’s PICK: Carol City 20-17.

No. 12 University School (2-1) at No. 6 Western (2-0), Friday, 7: The Sharks were shut out by McArthur last week but it came with an asterisk as starting quarterback Nick Vattiato, in concussion protocol from the week before, did not play. U School coach Daniel Luque confirmed Tuesday that Vattiato is ready to return this week thus Western will have all it can handle on its home field. The Wildcats have won their first two games by a combined 132-0 but against very soft opponents. BD’s PICK: University 24-23.

Fort Lauderdale (2-0) at Cardinal Gibbons (2-1), Friday, 7: After a rough lopsided opening loss to Northwestern, Gibbons to have things rolling. Meanwhile the Flying L’s are undefeated but the two wins are over less-than-stellar opponents in Flanagan and McCarthy. This will be a big step up for L’s coach Richard Dunbar and his players and while I look for them to give the Chiefs a run for their money, I don’t think it will be enough to knock off Gibbons on its home field. BD’s PICK: Gibbons 28-20

REST OF THE TOP 20

1. St. Thomas Aquinas (1-0) at South Plantation (2-1), Friday, 7: It seems like forever since the Raiders last played and are probably anxious to get back at it. They should be able to name their score in this one. BD’s Pick: Aquinas 45-8

2. Central (2-1) vs. Southridge (0-2), Friday, 7:30, Traz Powell: The Rockets are starting to roll and Southridge, which fired coach Sedrick Irvin this week, are a mess. This will be a lot to a little. BD’s Pick: Central 40-13.

3. Northwestern (2-1) vs. Killian (2-1), Thursday, 7, Traz Powell: The Bulls hung in there tough with No. 5 nationally-ranked IMG Academy last week before losing and should bounce back in a big way this week. BD’s Pick: NW 38-12.

4. South Dade (3-0) vs. Norland (1-1), Thursday, 7, Harris Field: Following a great win over Columbus last week, Bucs are off to a great start but must guard against a letdown. BD’s Pick: South Dade 30-14.

9. Palmetto (2-1) vs. Coral Gables (1-2), Friday, 7:30, Tropical Park: Palmetto has looked choppy through its first three games and will be looking for a sharp performance against Gables. Cavs got a nice road win over Southridge last week but are taking on a much better team this week. BD’s Pick: Palmetto 33-14.

10. Dillard (3-0) at Northeast (0-2), Friday, 7: Panthers will be on a short week after Monday’s road win over Pahokee but it won’t matter. Northeast has yet to score in two games and that likely will be three. BD’s Pick: Dillard 37-0.

11. Plantation American Heritage (2-1) at Jacksonville Trinity Christian (1-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m.: A big-time road test for the Patriots against a team favored to win the 3A title. TC lost a double OT game at home to Venice last week which makes this a tough spot for Heritage. BD’s Pick: Trinity Christian 27-24.

13. Deerfield Beach (1-2) at Zachary, La. (1-1), Saturday, 7 p.m.: The Bucks head out of town again but a much more winnable game than two weeks ago against St. John’s. BD’s Pick: Deerfield Beach 34-21.

15. Plantation (2-0) vs. Piper (0-2), Friday, 7 p.m., PAL Field: Colonels are exploding out of the gate. Piper is fizzling. BD’s Pick: Plantation 35-6.

17. Gulliver Prep. (3-0) vs. LaSalle (1-1), Friday, 4 p.m.: Gulliver is off to a great start and LaSalle should offer little resistance. BD’s Pick: Gulliver 38-12.

18. Champagnat (2-1) at Everglades Prep. (0-2), Friday, 3:30 p.m.: Finally the Lions get to stay in Dade County, only traveling to Homestead and should cruise in this one. BD’s Pick: Champagnat 41-8.

19. McArthur (1-1): IDLE.

20. Edison (2-1) at Hallandale (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: After nearly upsetting Naples on the road and then knocking of Coconut Creek last week, Red Raiders have earned their way into the Top 20 and will put that ranking on the line this week with another tough road game. BD’s Pick: Edison 23-21.

OTHER GAMES

Thursday: Miami-Dade: Mourning vs. Goleman (Milander), 7: Goleman 42-6; Miami High vs. Coral Reef (Southridge), 7: MHS 33-17; South Miami vs. North Miami Beach (Ives Estates), 7: NMB 22-16; Braddock vs. Coral Park (Tropical), 7: Braddock 27-14; Broward: Monarch at Douglas, 7: Monarch 30-14; Miami Country Day at Pompano Beach, 7: PB 13-12.

Friday: Miami-Dade: Reagan at Varela, 3:30: Varela 20-14; Sunset at Ferguson, 3:30: Ferguson 14-13; Westland Hialeah vs. Krop (Ives Estates), 3:30: Krop 42-6; Somerset Silver Palms at Miami Christian, 4: MC 34-13; Palmer Trinity at Ransom-Everglades, 4: PT 26-24; Westminster Christian at Coral Shores, 7: WC 28-20; Belen at Naples Gulf Coast, 7: Belen 27-20; Monsignor Pace at Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast, 7: Pace 23-17; Doral vs. Miami Beach (Flamingo), 7: Doral 41-8; North Miami vs. Hialeah (Milander), 7:30: Hialeah 42-13; Mater Academy vs. Homestead (Harris), 7:30: Homestead 27-9; Miami Springs vs. Jackson (Curtis), 7:30: Jackson 38-6; Hialeah Gardens at Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 7:30: HML 28-16; Broward: Westminster Academy at Somerset Canyons, 4: WA 30-9; Boyd Anderson at Hollywood Hills, 4: BA 32-14; South Broward at Miramar, 7: Miramar 30-12; Coral Glades at Coral Springs Charter, 7: CSC 24-20; Coconut Creek at Coral Springs, 7: Creek 34-12; Cypress Bay vs. West Broward (Flanagan), 7: CB 27-16; Boynton Beach at Archbishop McCarthy, 7: AM 15-14; Calvary Christian at North Broward Prep., 7: CC 35-17; American at Cooper City, 7: CC 16-14; Taravella at Coffee County (Ga.), 7: Coffee 23-17; Everglades at Thomasville (Ga.), 7: Thomasville 34-9; Inlet Grove at Pines Charter, 7: PC 28-14;

Last week overall: 38-9. Top 20: 13-2

Season overall: 101-27. Top 20: 38-7

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