By Larry Blustein

larry block6 SFHSS Top 15: Round 3 Produces Some Big Surprises

Every year when the playoffs arrive, schools across South Florida learn something about the post season.

To get to Orlando – the site of the state football championships – is never a given. Just because you roll through your schedule and have little problem in August, September and October, does not mean that things will be the same when the playoffs roll around here in November.

This past week, seven other schools from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties lost, leaving six local programs in the hunt for that elusive state title.

As the smaller schools (1A-4A) such as Champagnat Catholic (2A) and Chaminade-Madonna (3A) will enjoy this coming week off – before heading to the state title game, programs such as Miami Plantation American Heritage (5A), Northwestern (6A), St. Thomas Aquinas (7A) and Miami High (8A) remain alive, and will have key matchups this week.

Here is a look at how the Top 15 stacks up, heading into Week 4 of playoffs:

1. Plantation American Heritage – (12-0, 5A): LAST WEEK: In winning for the 26th straight time, it was not easy in a rematch against district rival Cardinal Gibbons in 3 overtimes, 58-57. THIS WEEK: The Patriots play for a return trip to state when they host unbeaten Immokalee on Friday at 7:30. The winner will play in Orlando for the title on Dec. 8.

2. Miami High (11-1, 8A) – LAST WEEK: The Stingarees came from 22 points down to beat district rival Christopher Columbus, 28-22. THIS WEEK: It will be a chance to return to the state championship game for the first time since 1965 – when they travel to Delray Beach to take on Atlantic at 7:30. The winner advances to Orlando for a Dec. 9 title game.

3. Miami Northwestern (11-2, 6A) – LAST WEEK: For the second time this year, the Bulls beat defending 6A state champion, Miami Carol City, 23-15. THIS WEEK: The Bulls will be home for the 4th straight week – against Naples on Friday at 7:30. The winner will advance to Orlando for a Dec. 8 title game.

4. Chaminade-Madonna (10-2, 3A). LAST WEEK: The Lions continued their run back to the state tournament with a convincing 49-3 win at Clearwater Central Catholic. NEXT GAME: It will be a much-anticipated meeting with West Palm Beach Oxbridge in Orlando on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.

5. St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2, 7A). LAST WEEK: The three-time defending state champs continued to roll with a convincing 48-6 victory over surprising Doral Academy. THIS WEEK: It’s perhaps the biggest rematch in Florida as Venice will get their wish and host the Raiders on Friday at 7:30 – with the winner advancing to Orlando for a Dec. 9 final.

6. Champagnat Catholic (9-2, 2A) – LAST WEEK: The Lions remained hot with a convincing 38-0 win at Tampa Cambridge, extending their scoreless stream to nine quarters. NEXT GAME: It’s on to Orlando for a rematch with defending state champion Jacksonville University Christian on Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.

7. Columbus (9-2, 8A) – LAST WEEK: The Explorers season came to an end with a heart-breaking 22-22 loss to Miami High.

8. Cardinal Gibbons (11-2, 5A) – LAST WEEK: The Chiefs lost a thrill 58-57 decision to No. 1 American Heritage.

9. University School (9-2, 4A) – LAST WEEK: The Sharks fell behind early and dropped a 49-14 decision to defending state champion Cocoa.

10. Western (10-3, 8A) – LAST WEEK: The dream season came to an end with a 35-22 setback at Delray Beach Atlantic.

11. Carol City (8-3, 6A) – LAST WEEK: The Chiefs saw their chances of repeating as they dropped a 23-15 decision to district rival Northwestern.

12. Doral Academy (10-2, 7A) – LAST WEEK: The Firebirds watched this amazing season come to an end – with a 48-6 loss to three-time defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas.

13. Miami Central (9-3, 6A)

14. Southridge (7-4, 8A)

15. South Dade (9-2, 8A).

Outstanding season for Deerfield Beach (8-3, 8A), Miramar (8-2, 8A), Palmetto (8-2, 8A), Plantation (9-2, 8A), Norland (6-4, 6A), West Broward (9-3, 7A) and Monsignor Pace (8-3, 4A). When the final rankings are done, we are sure you will see a number of these quality programs.

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 SFHSS Top 15: Round 3 Produces Some Big Surprises

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