(2) Northwestern (10-1) vs. (10) Carol City (6-3)
Friday at Traz Powell Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the game that everyone was looking forward as soon as the clock went 0:00 on the regular season matchup between these two teams.

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Both of these teams ride into this game having breezed through their regional quarterfinal games and now will stand toe-to-toe with one another in a game that is sure to be more physical and more intense than the first.

Northwestern, the unofficial kings of Miami-Dade County this season, hasn’t lost a game since their rally fell short against Plantation American Heritage back on September 9th.

The Bulls have proven to be a team that can run the ball, get big plays through its passing game, and shut teams down with one of the best defensive front sevens in South Florida.

All season senior running back Kai Henry has been Northwestern’s offensive bell cow. His tough, between-the-tackles running has worn down opposing defenses and he’s put up county-leading numbers.

But Henry’s battering-ram style of running has worn on him a bit. The Bulls elected to rest Henry during their 38-0 win over Boynton Beach and relied on junior quarterback Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell and a committee of other ball carriers to shoulder the offensive load.

How healthy Henry is, the fans will see come Friday night, but there’s no doubt he’ll be in uniform and ready to carry the ball.

Carol City has continued to ride the strength of its defense – “Dark Side Defense 2.0”. The Chiefs looked impressive in their big win over Dillard, but they did it without two of their best players.

As was known for more than a week now, senior defensive end Deandre “Eye Candy” Wilder “aged out” – meaning he surpassed the age of 19 years and nine months and won’t be able to play in any more games for Carol City this season.

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But Carol City was also without sophomore running back Nayquan Wright. Wright has been nursing a leg injury which he sustained in the first Northwestern game and he’s been limited in what he’s able to do since.

One would be inclined to think that Wright would be available to go for the Chiefs with two weeks of rest. Junior running back Camron Davis has handled the bulk of the rushing load with Wright out of the lineup and I know he’s eager to make up for his shortcomings in the first game against the Bulls.

Looking back at the previous game, I am reminded that both defenses flexed their muscles. Sure, the heavy rainfall helped, but Carol City’s defense only truly surrendered 10 (of 19) points and Northwestern’s defense only gave up eight (of 14) points.

Both teams scored defensive touchdowns.

The teams are so evenly matched, it’s hard to give a clear-cut advantage to either squad.

Northwestern can rely on Atwell to make good things happen either with his arm or legs, but how healthy will Henry be?

Carol City is definitely down Wilder on defense and the status of Wright, who ran for a 92-yard touchdown run against the Bulls in the regular season, is still up in the air, so will they be able to rise to the occasion without two of their – if not two – best football players?

I fully expect this game to come down to the wire once again.

Bald Prediction = Northwestern wins 16-12

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