By J.T. Wilcox | Staff Writer
The playoffs are in sight.
Well, for high school football.
It’s the point of the season where teams can start earning playoff spots or officially become eliminated from contention.
Because of that, all the games over the finally three weeks of the regular season will have a different feel to them – one way or the other; super competitive or a little “meh” because the teams don’t have much left to play for.
Still, it is an exciting time.
South Florida High School Sports has created a page that will allow everyone to follow along through the playoff race. It’s a standings page that shows all of the district records and overall records for every team in South Florida – including the independent teams.
You can find it here.
Also, SFHSSports has a weekly radio show on Miami Sports Radio 560 WQAM. Every week, Larry Blustein and I talk about high school sports along with interviewing some of the area’s top coaches and players and college coaches and players.
Now’s a great time to start tuning into the show because for the next month, the SFHSSports Radio show will open up the phone lines and take calls from fans.
Jump in there and talk high school sports.
And why not? Being a Miami football otherwise is pretty rough right now.
Dade County Special
Northwestern Bulls vs. Central Rockets
Saturday at Traz Powell Stadium, 7pm
The last time Northwestern defeated Central was the 2009 regular season.
For perspective, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a junior for the Bulls and Oakland Raiders rookie receiver Amari Cooper was a sophomore who played sparingly.
Central defeated the Northwestern in the playoffs of that same season and that sparked a run of eight straight wins over six years.
But this is a rivalry renewed.
The Rockets aren’t as strong as they were believed to be before the start of the 2015 season and the Bulls are a bit ahead of where most thought they’d be at the start of year.
This marks the first year in a while that Northwestern has a legitimate chance to knock off Central.
The chink in the Rockets’ armor is its offense. It completely disappeared in the loss to Carol City – no offensive touchdowns – and has shown a tendency to stall with little recourse to turn things around.
Northwestern’s defense has looked solid this season in year one under head coach Max Edwards, who was Central’s defensive coordinator from 2010 to 2014.
The Bulls have won two straight games – including a 23-17 win over Booker T. Washington – and are playing with a new confidence since super sophomore quarterback Chatarius “Tutu’ Atwell has returned from injury.
A big factor in this game is that Central is playing for its playoff life. If the Rockets were to fall in this game, it would “essentially” be eliminated from playoff contention as it would need lots of help just to potentially play in a district-tiebreaker.
It’ll be interesting to see how Edwards fares against the defense that he built for the Rockets and if Central’s offense will be able to rise to the occasion against a talented Bulls defense.
Extra Dade County Special
Carol City Chiefs vs. Norland Vikings
Friday at Traz Powell Stadium, 7:30pm
It’s the Miami Gardens Bowl.
No, seriously – that’s what this game is called.
These two schools are separated by less than four miles and the rivalry between the two is actually quite spirited.
Carol City has had a meteoric rise this season; winners of six straight games and undefeated in district play, the Chiefs are in a very good place right now.
Head coach Aubrey Hill has turned Carol City into more than a football team. He’s made it a complete program, one that gets the best from its players while also exciting the fans the community at-large.
It’s not surprising considering the experience Hill gained as an assistant at the college level before returning to coach his alma mater.
Norland comes into this game riding a rough three-game losing streak. Although, those three opponents – South Dade, Central and Plantation American Heritage – are all ranked in the top 10 of the latest SFHSSports Top 20 Poll; make of that what you will.
Also, the Vikings have had a significant amount of time off since their last game. 20 days to be exact. So Norland should be fully healthy and it should be uber-prepared for this game.
Expect Vikes defensive coordinator Luther Campbell to put his defense in attack mode from the onset – especially turning loose hard-hitting linebacker Emmett Rice.
Norland’s struggle has been its offense. The Vikings scored an average of nine points per game in their three losses, so it’ll be up to head coach and offensive play caller Daryle Heidelburg to find a way for his team to manufacture some points.
Carol City hopes to have its starting quarterback, Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert, back under center after he missed the past two games with a right shoulder strain.
Also, the next great running back to come from Miami-Dade County will be on display in this game. Carol City freshman Nayquan Wright (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) leads the team with 765 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries.
For more information on and extensive coverage of high school sports in South Florida, visit www.SFHighSchoolSports.com