(4) McArthur (11-0) vs. (15) Mater Academy (10-1)
Friday at Hialeah Milander Park, 7:30 p.m.

Here’s a game that will feature a pair of teams that are greatly benefitting from having strong coaching staffs in place.

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Both of these teams have had success in the past, but looking at them now – you see the true impact of having coaches that can both draw talented players in and help those players get even better and make a formidable team.

Mater Academy comes in riding a 10-game winning streak. The Lions haven’t lost a game since a week one fall at Miramar and have turned into a squad capable of scoring a heap of points. Since its seven-point output against the Patriots, Mater has scored 21 or more points in every game it played.

I’d like to say that senior running back Daniel Doriscar was responsible for much of the Lions’ scoring, but he’s missed time with multiple nagging injuries. While Doriscar, or “Steak Sauce” as he’s called by teammates and coaches, missed time – other players like quarterback Kaywon Hanna, junior running back Lentivone Lesane and senior receiver Travon Roberts had to step in and prove themselves as reliable offensive playmakers.

They did and now that “Steak” is back healthy and in the lineup full-time, Mater is that much stronger of a team.

On the other side is a McArthur team that holds the high distinction of being one of only two undefeated teams in South Florida this season – Plantation American Heritage is the other.

The Mustangs have impressed this season – showing that they are a balanced team that can run the ball, throw the ball, and make key defensive stops in critical moments.

At the start of the season most people pointed at junior athlete Dominick Watt as McArthur’s “big gun”, but as the season wore on folks began to realize that head coach Laron Culpepper has a full arsenal of talented players at his disposal.

6-foot-4 junior receiver Damarco Harris has made big strides (pun not intended) this season as has sophomore quarterback Deon Jones, who accounted for four touchdowns in McArthur’s first round playoff victory.

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The steadiest guy in the group has been junior running back Craig Cooper. Cooper, much like Doriscar, doesn’t get a lot of credit for his individual talents – but all he’s done this season is total 1,000 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns.

Looking at the matchup, I’d be inclined to say that McArthur has the edge. The chief reason being that whatever Mater Academy can throw at McArthur, the Mustangs can counter with that same thing and a bit more.

Mater’s defensive front is solid – especially with sophomore defensive end Mikel Jones anchoring the line. But thinking back to the Lions’ round one win, I saw a defense that was still fairly susceptible against a strong running game.

Cooper City’s Tyler Brown ran for 173 yards.

McArthur rushed for 175 yards as a team in its round one win.

The other factor is the Mustangs’ ability to create mismatches on the outside with its physically dominant receivers. Harris is a matchup nightmare with his height and Watt has the scary combo of size (6-foot-2) and speed. Also, senior Jaquan Denson has to be accounted for.

It’s unclear if Mater will have 6-foot-3 standout defensive back Latavious Brini in the lineup – he did not play against Cooper City – but even if he is, his assignment will likely be Harris since he’s the only one capable of matching up height-wise.

Ultimately, I see this being a fairly high-scoring game. I think Doriscar will get his and Mater will find a way to produce points but I feel that McArthur will get the couple of stops needed to churn out another victory.

Bald Prediction = McArthur wins 34-28

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