WEEK 2 – STATE PLAYOFFS: Key Matchups Take Center Stage

Larry Blustein
November 14, 2018 - 11:29 am

Larry Blustein

When athletes are taking part in combines and camps – as well as 7-on-7 events – it is this time of year where that extra work pays off.

With the first round of the state football playoffs out of the way, it is now time to really watch the elite in Florida rise to the top.

With college prospects all over every field, this is truly a recruiting superstore of talent that is making a final push to coaches who may be watching and looking.

This time of year is also about developing for the future. Look at how many underclassmen are getting the opportunity to appear in a state playoff game – not to mention what happens if they reach the state title game.

Florida is always in the spotlight when it comes to the abundance of talent that we produce. But this really the time of the year when the nation is watching.

With athletes committed to just about any and every school you can imagine, Florida is always among the topic of conversation when it comes to talent.

With all-star games coming up over the next two months – along with two National Singing Days, this will be a busy time – like it is year round.

Here is a look at second round games:

8A-Region 3

No. 5 Plantation (10-1) at No. 1 Deerfield Beach (10-1), 7:30. Coach Steve Davis and his Colonels were the team everyone was looking at when the season began – to be in the mix. A solid defensive team that has size and plenty of playmakers.

But the opponent, under Jevon Glenn, was viewed as a program that had more talent than any other 8A team in south Florida. The Bucks lost to nationally rated St. Thomas Aquinas and has been challenged along the way.

No. 7 Western (9-2) at No. 3 Wellington Palm Beach Central (10-1), 7:30. For the second year in a row, head coach Adam Ratkevich and his football team will be playing the Broncos in the second round. The Wildcats have once again showcased a solid defense – as the showed against previously unbeaten Delray Atlantic last week. This should be a classic matchup for two big time programs.

8A Region 4

No. 5 Miami Palmetto (10-1) at No. 1 Christopher Columbus (11-0), Tropical, Thursday, 4 p.m. In a round that will showcase a number of interesting and competitive matchups, this will be right near the top. 

As some have viewed head coach Chris Merritt and his Explorers as a favorite – with the No. 1 seed – Mike Manasco’s Panthers also have some head-turning wins. This will be worth every penny you pay to watch.

No. 6 South Dade (9-2) at No. 2 Southridge (9-2), 7:30. One of many rematches that promises to be a war – with both coaching staffs and players knowing each other for years.

Coach Knight and the Spartans are a solid team that have been playing at another level – while Nate Hudson’s Bucs have been down this road before. A lot of college prospects will certainly be on display. 

7A

No. 5 Fort Lauderdale (9-2) at St. No. 1 Thomas Aquinas (10-1), 7:30. At the start of the season, head coach Roger Harriott and his Raiders knew that they would be here in the second round, but that was not the case for head coach Richard Dunbar and the Flying Ls.

In winning a playoff game for the first time since 1966, Fort Lauderdale, which lost out in the district race to the Raiders, move on to the second round against a team they know all about.

No. 6 Palm Beach Lakes (8-3) at No. 2 Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (10-1), 7:30. After knocking off McArthur in a defensive contest to open the playoffs, Palm Beach Lakes heads into a rematch with a program that got the best of them in the first meeting.

For head coach Jack Daniels and the Panthers, it’s all about the solid athletes and being in the mix every year. With a potential matchup against St. Thomas looming in the third round, Dwyer needs to continue playing on both sides of the ball.

6A

No. 5 Central (9-2) at No. 1 Carol City (9-2), Traz Powell Stadium, Friday, 7:30. It does not get any better than this – anywhere in the country.

No. 1 and No. 2 in Florida – and easily as good as you get, playing in the second round is going to be special.

Packed stands and plenty of talent as the Roland Smith’s Rockets and Benedict Hyppolite’s Chiefs battle to move to the next round.

No. 6 Northwestern (6-5) at No. 2 Palm Bay Heritage (9-2), 7:30. Look who is still alive in the second round of the playoffs – and those national analysts still believe that there is a better football-playing district in America?

The Bulls went out and smashed Daytona Mainland in the face – and will be back on the round to face No. 2 seed Palm Bay Heritage in next round. 

5A

No. 5 American Heritage Plantation (9-1) at No. 1 Rockledge (10-1), 7:30. For Rockledge and head coach Wayne Younger (former FIU quarterback), this is as big a game as this school has played in years – and having the two-time defending state champions at home is huge.

For the Patriots and head coach Pat Surtain, this is just another game to get to next week’s much anticipated rematch against Cardinal Gibbons. 

No. 3 Orlando Jones (10-1) at No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons (8-2), 7:30. Another rematch of last year when head coach Matt Dubuc and his Chiefs went to Orlando and came away with a win.

This year, the stakes are sky high. Cardinal Gibbons is loaded with senior leadership and are at home – which adds up to something big for the district champions.

4A

No. 3 Belle Glade Glades Central (8-3) at Miami Booker T. Washington (5-5), 7:30. Coach Jesse Hester’s Raiders have really made some major strides over the past year, and after an opening round win against Coral Springs Charter, will take a step up in talent.

Coach Tim “Ice” Harris and his Tornadoes have played one of the most challenging schedules – and after a week off to get some players ready – they get back to it – with plenty of optimism.  

No. 4 Gulliver Prep (7-3) at No. 1 University School (9-1), 7:30. After a season-ending loss to 3A power Chaminade-Madonna, head coach Daniel Luque and his team is ready for the playoffs –with tremendous talent.

For Earl Sims and his Raiders, it has been a very solid year – with some talent on both sides of the ball. This shapes up to be a game in which both teams have plenty to prove and looks to move on.

3A

No. 5 Palmer Trinity (9-2) at No. 1 Chaminade-Madonna (8-2), 7:30. After a huge win to open the playoffs against Miami Westminster Christian, Palmer now has a huge task in front of them.

With a week off after closing the season with a huge win over then No. 1 University School, the Lions and head coach Dameon Jones are ready to start defense of their state title from 2017. Loads of talent and plenty of athletes who have gone through a challenging schedule.

No. 3 Delray American Heritage (8-3) at North Palm Beach Benjamin (9-1), 7:30. This is a very interesting matchup between two programs who had very solid seasons.

The Stallions boast some impressive talent on both sides of the ball – with big time players – while Coach Eric Kresser’s Bucs bring plenty to the table.

2A

No. 5 Champagnat Catholic (6-5) at No. 1 Moore Haven (8-1), 7:30. Last year as a host, Moore Haven was undefeated and ended up watching the Lions shut them down – while running the clock late in the game. 

This year, head coach Hector Clavijo and his team, coming off a close win against Miami Christian, is young and has had some key injuries. A year truly make a major difference.

No. 3 Glades Day (7-4) at No. 2 Naples St. John Neumann (9-1). With the winner of Moore Haven and Champagnat awaiting the outcome of this game, here are two solid teams who have met the challenge down the stretch and are ready to play this important game.

Both programs have had plenty of past playoff experiences and will be ready to continue the season. 

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Tuesday night (8-9) on WQAM (560AM - https://wqam.radio.com/media/podcast/south-florida-high-school-sports-radio). For the past 11 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!