(9) Booker T. Washington (5-3) vs. (17) Columbus (5-2)
Thursday at Traz Powell Stadium, 7 p.m.

This is an intriguing game – a game that can be looked at from a couple different angles.

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Since losing to Southridge over a month ago, Columbus has stayed in the win column by outscoring its last three opponents 104-16. Granted, the combined record of those teams was an underwhelming 7-12, wins are wins.

Either way, the Explorers are one of those teams that continue to improve as the season wears on – their coaching staff continues to teach and tweak and their players understand more and more what is expected of them.

After its meteoric rise to start the season, Booker T. has settled into a place where it is still a top-flight program but one that will feel the effects of being a Class 4A program more substantially when competing against bigger classification schools.

Like last year, the Tornadoes have fallen into a pattern of alternating wins and losses – not having won or lost consecutive games in the past seven contests.

And remember, it was during the 2015 season that Columbus totally dominated Booker T. – taking down the eventual 4A champs 40-13, nearly a year ago to the day.

The deciding factor in this matchup will be which team’s defense will be able to disrupt the other’s offense most. I think the edge would have to go to Booker T. in that instance.

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Columbus’ running game is solid, with running backs Henry Parrish, Darren Davis Jr. and even C.J. Henderson – even though Henderson’s involvement on the defensive side of the ball has increased a significant amount.

But Explorers quarterback Marcelo Rodriguez hasn’t shown the ability to thrive when facing consistent pressure from a defense – and that’s one of the specialties of the Tornadoes’ defense, putting pressure on the quarterback.

Columbus’ coaching staff’s ability to game plan and create a scheme that accentuates their strengths will make this game close. But the Tornadoes’ coaching staff is great in its own right, too – and they’re more than capable of making in-game adjustments to counteract the Explorers.

I will call my shot and say that the Booker T.’s defense will create a touchdown and be the difference in this game.

Tornadoes break the cycle and win consecutive games for only the second time this season.

Bald Prediction = Booker T. Washington wins 21-19

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