Miami Marlins

Andre C. Fernandez: Northwestern Bulls have the edge on Norland Vikings

14. NORTHWESTERN (4-0) VS. 16. NORLAND (2-1)

7 p.m., Thursday, Traz.

Northwestern picked up a crucial district victory against Carol City, then pulled off one of the most dramatic victories of the season, beating Blanche Ely on a successful fake field goal at the final whistle to stay undefeated.

If Northwestern gets one more victory this week, it can put itself in great shape to clinch a playoff berth in rough District 16-6A.

Not so long ago, making the playoffs was expected at Northwestern. But the Bulls have fallen short twice in the past three seasons. Under a new coaching staff, Northwestern appears to be taking the first steps toward getting back to perennial playoff status. Taking the next step won’t be easy against Norland, which is also trying to regain its old form following a 3-7 season.

Northwestern’s own defense has forced timely turnovers, and if it can do it again this week, it should help it prevail over the Vikings.

Andre’s pick: Northwestern 14, Norland 13.

5. MONARCH (4-0) VS. CORAL SPRINGS (3-1)

7 p.m., Thurs., Deerfield Beach.

Monarch has been the clear front-runner in District 11-8A since before the season started.

With Deerfield Beach struggling, a couple of upstart contenders are trying to challenge the Knights for supremacy. Douglas failed last week as Monarch completely dominated en route to a 49-12 victory.

Coral Springs gets its chance this week. The Colts might fare a little better because they have already been through a couple of tough battles in recent weeks, beating Deerfield and nearly upsetting Hallandale.

But Monarch proved last week it has plenty of firepower on offense, which should be enough to keep its record unblemished one more week.

Andre’s pick: Monarch 37, Coral Springs 21

NORTH MIAMI (3-1) VS. NMB (1-3)

7 p.m., Thurs., North Miami.

The fierce neighborhood rivalry resumes this week, and for the second year in a row, both teams are in striking distance for the postseason.

NMB’s record doesn’t look very good now, but wins the next few weeks would put the Chargers in great shape to make a run. North Miami stumbled in Week 1, suffering a lopsided loss to American.

The Pioneers are still the most talented team in District 13-8A and will give an effective demonstration this week.

Andre’s pick: North Miami 30, NMB 16

WEST. ACADEMY (5-0) AT LA SALLE (3-2)

7:30 p.m., Friday.

Two of the better teams in the Southeastern Football Independent Conference clash to begin the second half of their respective seasons.

Westminster Academy has looked impressive, winning four of its first five games by 16 points or more behind a balanced offense. La Salle suffered a lopsided loss to Pine Crest but bounced back last week against Curley. The Royal Lions need a win to strengthen their playoff hopes in the conference. But containing Westminster’s offensive firepower is a tall order.

Andre’s pick: Westminster Academy 35, La Salle 31.

CALVARY CHRISTIAN (5-0) VS. CS CHARTER (4-1)

7 p.m., Friday, Coral Glades.

Another huge SFC battle could be a shootout as Charter’s offense, averaging 42.4 points, per game tries to outslug Calvary Christian’s, which comes in averaging 39.2 per game.

Andre’s pick: Coral Springs Charter 35, Calvary Christian 34.

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