(6) Deerfield Beach (7-1) vs. (12) Cardinal Gibbons (7-1)
Friday at Deerfield Beach, 7 p.m.

Here’s another game that I wish was played earlier in the season – maybe more than any other game on the slate this week.

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I had the opportunity to watch both of these teams in recent weeks and I came away impressed with both of them for different reasons.

Cardinal Gibbons looks like a much different team this year under the direction of Matt DuBuc than it has in years past. That’s not a knock on former head coach and Gibbons athletic director Mike Morrill. Morrill led Gibbons to some very successful seasons.

However, I think DuBuc represents a fresh voice and a renewed energy that is permeating throughout the program. Flat out, the Chiefs look like a much tougher – physically and mentally – team this season than it has before.

Gibbons has a hidden gem in senior receiver James Bostic. Though he’s a Vanderbilt commit, Bostic’s size (6-foot-3) and natural receiver skills go largely unnoticed. Also, I really like junior linebacker Donnell Bennett III. Like his dad, former NFL fullback and University of Miami standout Donnell Bennett Jr. – who’s on Gibbons’ coaching staff, “DB3” is a playmaker.

I made it a point to watch Deerfield Beach up close and personal to see exactly where the team was heading into the final weeks of the season. Leaving the Bucks’ 34-0 win over Piper, I saw a team that is not only talented on both sides of the ball – but I saw a team that was starting to click on both sides of the ball.

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Receiver Jerry Jeudy is a superstar; fellow pass catchers Daewood Davis and Leroy Henley are studs, and I saw that Deerfield Beach can actually line up and run the ball quite successfully with Jakari Norwood.

Defensively, I came away most impressed with junior linebacker Ashton Pierre. He was all over the field and showed top-end athleticism as he made plays in the backfield and dropping back in coverage.

I could see a scenario where both of these teams go all out for a half and then start to rotate in a lot of backups, since the playoffs are right around the corner. I know Deerfield Beach quarterback Nick Holm is nursing a right shoulder injury, and it would be wise to keep him as healthy as possible for the playoff run.

The Bucks get on top early and stave off the Chiefs the rest of the way.

Bald Prediction = Deerfield Beach wins 27-17

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