(9) Southridge (9-2) vs. (11) Coral Gables (11-1)
Friday at Southridge Stadium, 3 p.m. – Region 4-8A Regional Final

Now that this game has finally settled on where it will be played, here’s a matchup that – on the surface – has a “David vs. Goliath” feel to it.

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Even the Coral Gables booster club’s social media account is playing up that element. The account has made various posts this week pointing out how many players on Southridge’s roster have Division-I scholarship offers and saying that the Spartans have “more talent than a small college team”.

I’m all for using the “why not us” or “us against the world” mantras as a rallying cry, but I find their means of doing it this week – a bit odd.

Coral Gables handed me one of those bitter losses I was talking about earlier where I switched my pick at the last minute. The Cavaliers showed a lot of gumption and heart in their win over Columbus.

Once again, senior running back Jamar Thompkins had himself a big game and once again the Gables defense stepped up and rose to the challenge.

A lot of credit is owed to Gables’ coaching staff as a whole, but specifically to head coach Roger Pollard for showing that he’s definitely one of the bright young coaching minds that we have in South Florida. He’s shown throughout his very productive tenure that he defense is his specialty, but also that he’s a great motivator and manager of his team.

Southridge, on the other hand, is a team that I’ve been fairly hard on this season because their roster is chocked full of top-tier talent.

But it seems like the Spartans have put all their pieces together, figured things out and now look like a mighty tough team to beat.

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What makes Southridge so daunting is that they have all-star caliber players on both sides of the ball. It’s not like they have one spectacular unit that has to carry the other; Southridge can literally throw multiple future major college football players at opponents in every phase of the game.

Okay, I might get what the Coral Gables booster club was doing…

The key to this matchup will be Southridge’s ability to actually go out and execute the steps it takes to win this game. What could hurt the Spartans and open the door for Coral Gables would be: mistakes (turnovers) that the Cavaliers will certainly capitalize on.

Coach Pollard and his staff will cook up a game plan to try to exploit any cracks that they find in film study and try to put their team in the best possible position, but Southridge’s overall talent coupled with the fact the Spartans have overcome the early bumps and developed the chemistry needed for a squad to make a deep run – makes me lean towards the home team.

Because this game will ultimately be played on Southridge’s home turf – something that wasn’t the case earlier in the week – it will be a rallying point for the Spartans. They’ll want to defend their home field even more because there was a chance they wouldn’t be able to play on it.

I don’t think this game will be a runaway – Coral Gables is too good to let something like that happen – but I do think Southridge will earn a victory.

Bald Prediction = Southridge wins 22-17

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