If you are a high school football fan, player or someone who just enjoys the sport, this has certainly been an entertaining season.
With Hurricane Irma in the past, for some, the regular season is starting to wind down – as 12 programs from South Florida will fight to stay alive this week – the action will become more intense and the stakes will soar.
The third round will be a test for these programs. A football exam that will completely separate the winners from the rest of the pack – in the race for Orlando and Camping World Stadium (Dec. 7-9).
Four Classes 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A, this week is Game 7 of the World Series, NBA or NHL Finals. It’s a simple assignment for Champagnat Catholic (2A), Chaminade-Madonna (3A) and University School (4A). Win and you are headed to state – with a week to heal wounds and get healthy.
For the four larger classes, it is about reaching this game next week – and with three crucial head-to-head rematches taking place, it will indeed get mighty loud across the region.
Here is how your post-Thanksgiving Day will play out across Southern Florida:
8A – Miami High (10-1) at Christopher Columbus (10-1), Tropical Park, 1 p.m. This is one of three rematches that will take place, featuring district foes – with all the games being close. Here is a chance for both teams to show how each has grown since the first meeting. Great afternoon contest that should draw a very impressive crowd. Both playing their best right now.
WINNER GETS: Will take on the winner of the Davie Western and Delray Beach Atlantic on Friday for the right to advance to the 8A state title game.
8A – Davie Western (10-2) at Delray Beach Atlantic (11-1), 7:30. Call it Cinderella – magic carpet – or whatever you want to say about the Wildcats, but for the first time in school history, head coach Adam Ratkevich’s Wildcats have won two post season games – and are within a win of taking home a regional title, in a season where they did not win their district!
WINNER GETS: It will be either the Christopher Columbus Explorers or Miami Stingarees next Friday for the right to advance to the 8A state title game.
7A – Doral Academy (10-2) at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2), 7:30. It does not matter that in this very game the past three years, the Raiders have outscored the opponent, 155-17. That is not something that head coach Jase Stewart and his team are worried about. They understand that the three-time defending state champions are rolling and have played outstanding the past two weeks, and have to play their best ball of the season to continue the dream. Head Coach Roger Harriott and his team is stacked. Defensively, there very few who are better – and the depth is indeed crazy good.
WINNER GETS: The stakes really rise next Friday as the winner will play of Venice and Tampa Bay Tech.
6A – Miami Carol City (8-4) at Miami Northwestern (10-2), Traz Powell Stadium, 7:30. The second of the rematches that took place in district play – and for the entire nation to see. Both teams bring in solid defensive units, and while the Chiefs and first year head coach Benedict Hyppolite are the defending state champions, the Bulls and head coach Max Edwards have been hungry to bring this school a chance at a state title for the first time in a decade.
WINNER GETS: Either Bill Kramer’s Naples Golden Eagles or Sammy Sirianni’s Fort Myers squad next Friday.
5A – Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (11-1) at Plantation American Heritage (12-0), Friday, 7:30. From the moment the first meeting ended, players, coaches and fans for both programs began plotting to this Friday – when the Patriots would put state best winning streak on the line against the Chiefs. With games dwindling down each week, can the upset take place against the nation’s No. 3 team – or will go the way it had for the six seasons?
WINNER GETS: It’s going to be surprising and very talented Immokalee or St. Petersburg Lakewood for the right to represent the south in the 5A state title game.
4A – Fort Lauderdale University School (11-1) at Cocoa (11-1). While this program has been through this before – only one person was around when they won a state title – and he happens to be head coach Daniel Luque. No longer the Suns – or green and yellow uniforms – but the Sharks program has really started to turn the corner, and they have just four senior starters. They are headed to the defending state champions. A team that took over the top seat in the class after Booker T. Washington had dominated for years.
WINNER GETS: The powerhouse Raines Vikings from Jacksonville or Starke-Bradford County in the 4A title game on Dec. 7.
3A –Chaminade-Madonna (9-2) at Clearwater Central Catholic (11-0), 7:30. This week’s opponent is a quality team that has come up with some solid wins this season, but the Marauders are stepping up several levels here. With impressive wins against Rockledge and Tampa Catholic, the only way to slow down the Lions is to stop Shaun Shivers – and beat this team up from – which only Central and the nation’s No. 3 team, American Heritage, have done.
WINNER GETS: It will be either very talented West Palm Beach Oxbridge or Tallahassee Florida High on Dec. 9.
2A – Hialeah Champagnat Catholic (7-2) at Tampa Cambridge (9-2), Skyway Park. After coming with an impressive 47-0 win over Moore Haven for a regional title – the Lions head on the road for a game that would put them back in the state title game – where they came up short against Jacksonville University Christian. Cambridge has been very impressive as well – with huge wins in the first two rounds.
WINNER GETS: Either defending state champion University Christian or Lakeland Victory Christian on Dec. 8.
Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!