Larry Blustein

MONDAY TAKE: There Are No Guarantees In The Playoffs

Larry Blustein
November 26, 2018 - 9:41 am

When the 2018 high school football playoffs began, those who follow the exciting month long tournament felt that a few teams would pull the ultimate surprise.

While No. 1 Carol City fell in 6A, there were very few stunning results that would catch the attention of fans all over the state. That changed last Friday.

With the Race For Orlando taking place throughout the Sunshine State, very few results got the reaction that Miami Northwestern’s 19-15 win over Central did.

What the defending 6A state champions did was knock off a team that many felt played its state title game the week before when they beat rival Carol City.

If you judged from the first meeting between the two District 16-6A powers, this contest was a formality. After all, despite combining for 47 penalties and 350 yards, the Rockets mauled the Bulls 38-10.

But last Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium, things were different. Head coach Max Edwards, heavily criticized by fans for finishing 5-5 in the regular season, guided his team to the biggest upset of the year and sends Northwestern to Naples to take on a Golden Eagle team they beat by 5 touchdowns last year.

There is no doubting that south Florida is home to some of the nation’s best athletes and most competitive teams, but the fans are often out of line – pointing fingers at kids, who are playing this game because they love it.

BEEN A LONG TIME FOR CARDINAL GIBBONS

When they won a district title early this season, it was the first time in over 20 years that Cardinal Gibbons added a district football title to an already crowded trophy case.

Last Friday night, head coach Matt Dubuc and his team silenced all the critics for another week as they convincingly beat district rival American Heritage Plantation, 35-7. 

With a backup quarterback and faced with beating the same team twice in one year, this is a program that played hard, cut down on the mistakes and put themselves in a position – this week – to make a return to the state championships for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The Chiefs will play host to a competitive Tampa Jesuit team on Friday night.

EXPLORERS ARE READY

When Chris Merritt’s Miami Christopher Columbus football team hosted South Dade in the Region 4-8A finals at Tropical Park, memories of last year’s loss in the same round was on the mind of everyone.

From administration – to teammates, friends, coaches and athletes – everyone remembered the collapse against Miami High – when the Explorers blew a 22 point lead. That was not going to happen this time around.

What did take place through the four quarters is this team did everything and anything possible to ensure that last year would not repeat itself. This unbeaten program scored every way possible in a 54-28 game – and now heads to Deerfield Beach on Friday for a meeting with the impressive Bucks.

GREAT TO BE ALIVE

With the traditional Thanksgiving practice now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to move on to the state semifinals.

From defending state champions Champagnat Catholic (2A) and Chaminade-Madonna (3A) – to an impressive run by University School (4A), St. Thomas Aquinas jumping back into the state title race in 7A – and Deerfield Beach – there are seven classes and eight teams that are still alive.

For first year head coach Hector Clavijo and his defending 2A state champion Champagnat Catholic Lions, the road has been bumpy this year, but a convincing 21-10 win at Naples St. John Neumann sets up this week’s huge task at No. 1 St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut.

No team has received less attention than head coach Dameon Jones and his defending 3A state champion Chaminade-Madonna Lions. Playing one of the most competitive schedules in south Florida, this team played well on defense in a 14-3 decision over Delray American Heritage.

This Friday, it’s a trip to Clearwater Central Catholic and a No. 1 seed that Chaminade rolled last year.

In 4A, head coach Daniel Luque and his University School Sharks moved to 11-1 with a second win this year over Glades Central, 45-14. This has been a team this year that has met every 4A challenge. The next challenge will take place this Friday at Cocoa.

It will be the game everyone has waited for this Friday night as two No. 1 seeds will collide in Fort Lauderdale.

After falling short against Venice last year, St. Thomas Aquinas will use last week’s mauling of Dwyer (35-0) as a springboard to a game that head coach Roger Harriott and his team are more than ready for.

The Raiders have rolled over its three playoff opponents, 186-20 – and since the lone loss to Miami Central, they have won eight straight and recorded four shutouts, outscoring the opposition, 624-87 on the season.

As Deerfield Beach gets ready to host Columbus on Friday, head coach Jevon Glenn and his team are ready for the challenge. The Bucks have been impressive after losing to St. Thomas Aquinas.

The 21-6 win over Palm Beach Central showed a balance on offense and domination on the defensive side of the ball.

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!