By Larry Blustein

larry block6 PLAYOFF ROUND 2: Key Matchups Highlight This Week

If you don’t believe in any given day, you must have missed last week’s opening round of the state playoffs.

Across Florida, a number of programs, not picked by the experts to win in the first round, emerged with victories.

In South Florida, two heavily favored programs went to down in the first round – the most shocking – and certainly a bracket buster – Miramar, the No. 1 seed in 8A – lost.

The Patriots dropped a game to No. 8 seed Lake Worth Park Vista, which was indeed a huge shock, considering the way this program slapped nationally-rated St. Thomas around the week before.

Also, Deerfield Beach, which many felt would be the favorite to win it all this year in 8A, went down as Western showed that they can indeed play with anyone – and did.

Head Coach Adam Ratkevich and the Wildcats pulled the upset, but if you have watched this team play this year, it may not have been an upset at all. This is easily the school’s best team ever – winning its first post season playoff game.

What will take place this week, with 17 programs from Miami-Dade and Broward in action, will be a chance for many teams to go further than they have before.

For Miami High – it has been a long time since this program is in the position they are in. For those of you not around in the early years of high school football in the state of Florida, the Stingarees owned the state – and much of the nation.

The success carried through into the 1960’s, but have not truly been a legitimate state contender until now.

Here is a look at the second week. There are some very impressive matchups coming your way:

THURSDAY (Today)

8A – Homestead South Dade (9-1) at Christopher Columbus (9-1), Tropical Park, 7. This is a very even matchup with quality athletes and tremendous coaching on both sides of the field. The key for both teams is to keep the mistakes at a minimum. Each program has lost once this season to teams that are still in the hunt.

WINNER GETS: The winner of Friday’s Miami High and Southridge game.

FRIDAY

8A – Miami High (10-1) at Miami Southridge (6-3), Southridge, 7:30. This has all the makings of a classic. The defending 8A state champs, coming off a big win in the opening round – while the Stingarees have truly been the talk of South Florida with just one loss by a single point to Columbus. This team has improved as much as anyone over the past month. Time will tell.

WINNER GETS: Either South Dade or Christopher Columbus next Friday.

8A – Davie Western (9-2) at Palm Beach Central (9-2), 7:30. When the Wildcats upended Deerfield Beach last week, they once again got the attention of all the 8A programs who may be in the path. This is a solid defensive team that has the weapons to put the ball in the end zone. Palm Beach Central is also have a banner season and will be up for the test.

WINNER GETS: It will be either Park Vista or Delray Beach Atlantic next Friday.

7A – Doral Academy (9-2) at Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (9-2), 7:30. After winning its first ever playoff game, the Firebirds travel north to play a program that has been in this position 14 of the past 16 years – and are loaded with talent and experience. But, this is a Doral Academy team that has been playing its best football and wants to showcase one of the youngest teams in the playoffs.

WINNER GETS: It will be either three-time defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas or surprising West Broward next Friday.

7A – Pembroke Pines West Broward (9-2) at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (9-2), 7:30. On the surface of this game, the three-time state champions have a major advantage, and while the defense has kept them in games and certainly at the No. 1 seed, they need to take this team as serious as anyone. The Bobcats are aggressive, young and if you let them stay in the game, they will. No matter how the game ends, they will not quit!

WINNER GETS: Either Dwyer or surprising Doral Academy.

6A – Miami Central (9-2) at Miami Northwestern (9-2), Traz Powell Stadium, 7:30. No matter how many times you say it when these two powerhouses get together, but it’s worth hearing again – just to show you that this game is not just another game. There will be more high level talent on the field than any other place in the country – not even open for discussion. It’s a war that will be settled on Friday night. Bulls and Rockets. Big time matchup coming your way!

WINNER GETS: Either defending 6A state champion Carol City or Daytona Beach Mainland next Friday.

6A – Miami Carol City (7-4) at Daytona Beach Mainland (7-4), 7:30. This is a rematch of last year’s state semifinal when the Chiefs mauled the Buccaneers. Last week Norland lost to Mainland, but first year head coach Benedict Hyppolite’s team may have way too much. The difference in schedules will show up in this meeting. Mainland will never see a defense like this and would be considered a major upset if Carol City doesn’t win.

WINNER GETS: The victor of the rematch between Northwestern and Central next Friday.

5A – Orlando Bishop Moore (9-2) at Plantation American Heritage (11-0), Friday, 7:30. It’s been a month since anyone scored on the Patriots, running their state best winning streak to 26 games. They are getting it done on both sides of the ball – and while the Hornets won a state title two years ago – and push the Patriots to the brink three years ago – this should not be close. Barring a major letdown, the Patriots will roll here.

WINNER GETS: It will be the winner of a very good matchup between Cardinal Gibbons and Rockledge next Friday.

5A – Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (10-1) at Rockledge (7-3), 7:30. The Chiefs are still trying to figure out how a 10-1 season, with the only setback – to that nation’s No. 3 team by a few points – would land you on the road for a first game against Orlando Jones – and now at Rockledge. But head coach Matt Dubuc and his team have worked far too hard to let former FIU quarterback Wayne Younger’s Raiders get in the way of a rematch with the American Heritage.

WINNER GETS: It will be American Heritage or Bishop Moore next Friday.

4A – Miami Monsignor Pace (9-2) at Fort Lauderdale University School (9-1), AutoNation Field, 7:30. Here is a classic matchup of two program that nobody felt would here in week 2. Coach Daniel Luque has been at the school since the program began – while veteran Joe Zaccheo came back last year and has used his “old school” approach to change the culture of this storied program.

WINNER GETS: It will be either No.1 Cocoa or Avon Park for the right to represent the south in Orlando.

3A – North Palm Beach Benjamin (8-2) at Chaminade-Madonna (8-2), Calvary Christian, Fort Lauderdale, 7:30. Since losing to American Heritage Plantation, the Lions have gone on a tear, looking to get back to Orlando and finish what they started last year. Veteran head coach Ron Ream brings his Buccaneers south with some kids, but enough to derail one of the best in the state? This one should send this program to within one game of going back to state.

WINNER GETS: It will either be top seed Clearwater Central Catholic or Clearwater Calvary Christian for the right to represent the south in Orlando.

2A – Hialeah Champagnat Catholic (6-2) at Moore Haven (11-0), 7:30. A very rare state playoff appearance for the Moore Haven Terriers and head coach Max Manin – while the Lions are looking to get back to finish what they started last season. Head Coach Dennis Marroquin and his team have played a much tougher schedule, and that should be the real difference, here.

WINNER GETS: The winner of the huge battle between Largo Indian Rocks Christian and Tampa Cambridge for the right to represent the south in Orlando.

Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!

south florida high school sports PLAYOFF ROUND 2: Key Matchups Highlight This Week

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