High school football picks: Unpredictable week results in change in picking strategy
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NOTE: Palm Beach County schools called off all activities for Thursday and Friday because of the forecast regarding Hurricane Sandy. For the latest updates, click here. Games that have been canceled that appeared in early versions of this story have been removed. The video was recorded early in the week, so references to those canceled games remain.
Last week's results flipped some common Palm Beach County high school football themes on their heads, and they also called for perhaps a new strategy in predicting the winners of the area's best games.
Consistently dominant Dwyer lost to consistently inconsistent Atlantic. Primed-for-coronation Palm Beach Gardens, a team we were ready to declare a state-title contender, laid an egg in its biggest game of the season, a loss to Seminole Ridge, a team working its way back from an 0-2 start. Oh, and Pahokee, for which we've written several obituaries in recent seasons, handled King's Academy.
We got each of those picks wrong.
Each week, we select six "Games of the Week," which we think are the top area matchups. There have been 48 of those games, and Matt and I have picked the same winners in 47 of them (I thought Boca would beat John I. Leonard in Week 6, but then Boca lost its quarterback -- and the game.)
This week, the race's landscape changed. We have divergent picks for two of the county's best games -- Royal Palm Beach at Atlantic and South Fork at Olympic Heights.
The difference is belief in story lines and a mistrust of the strategies that got us to Week 9.
I'm not buying the "Atlantic is finally here" argument that has beaten louder each day since the Eagles' much-deserved rout of Dwyer last week. They outplayed the Panthers. No one's doubting that. But Royal Palm Beach has been consistent, disciplined and far more predictable than Atlantic. One big win doesn't change my feelings on Atlantic's inconsistencies.
Meanwhile South Fork is undefeated, but the Bulldogs squeaked out their past two wins, and this contest is too perfect for an upset for me to pass up. Olympic Heights has improved by leaps and bounds and is a great candidate to put a blemish on South Fork's schedule.
Matt likes the momentum and the psychological gains from a big win, so he's picking Atlantic to win its second big district game in two weeks. He does, for the record, agree about Royal Palm Beach's coaching advantage and more favorable recent history.
And he loves South Fork's defense, which rates among the area's best, and, while he acknowledges the worrisome results of late, he trusts the Bulldogs in a pinch.
So that's where we are: A week of unexpected results brings on a week of divergent predictions. Maybe it'll change the entire course of our picks contest. Or maybe it won't even matter if Hurricane Sandy washes everything out.
Let's get to our picks:
GAMES OF THE WEEK
No. 4 Royal Palm Beach (5-1, 4-0 in District 13-7A) at No. 8 Atlantic (5-2, 3-1 in 13-7A), 7 p.m. Monday
A big opportunity for Atlantic, which can assume the top spot in District 13-7A a week after beating Dwyer. These are similarly athletic, defensively dominant teams. Atlantic has momentum, while Royal Palm has been steadily effective.
Jeff's pick: Royal Palm Beach 21-14.
Matt's pick: Atlantic 27-24.
South Fork (7-0, 3-0 in 14-6A) at Olympic Heights (6-1, 2-1 in 14-6A), 6 p.m. Monday
Olympic Heights can lock in a playoff spot by handing South Fork its first loss. The Lions have a solid rushing attack and can get big plays on special teams, while South Fork's defense is something special.
Jeff's pick: Olympic Heights 16-14.
Matt's pick: South Fork 24-21.
Dwyer (6-1, 3-1 in 13-7A) at Lake Worth (1-6, 1-3 in 13-7A), 7 p.m. Monday
Dwyer needs to bounce back after last week's surprising loss to Atlantic. While Lake Worth is frisky, Dwyer should sort out its offense before next week's crucial district game against Royal Palm.
Jeff's pick: Dwyer 56-0.
Matt's pick: Dwyer 42-0.
No. 1 American Heritage (7-0) at West Monroe (La.) (7-1), 7:30 p.m. Saturday
This is a national test for Heritage, hitting the road against a powerhouse Louisiana school that regularly competes for national attention. But the Stallions are battle-tested and unafraid of a good old-fashioned road trip.
Jeff's pick: American Heritage 21-20.
Matt's pick: American Heritage, 34-27.
Berean Christian (5-2) at Miami-Northwest Christian (4-3), 6 p.m. Monday: After starting 3-0, it's been boom or bust for Berean the past four weeks. Take the boom this time. Berean Christian 30-16.
Fort Pierce Central (6-0) at Centennial (1-6), 5 p.m. Saturday: Central's grooving its way through the softer part of its schedule, and this one's no harder. Centennial's big, but that's it. Fort Pierce Central 38-7.
Suncoast (2-5, 0-2 in 14-5A) at Fort Pierce Westwood (0-7, 0-3 in 14-5A), 6 p.m. Monday: Suncoast has 53 points in seven games; Westwood has 30. Combined, they've allowed a whopping 30 points a game. Maybe this one will be high-scoring? Suncoast 21-14.
Summit Christian (3-4, 1-2 in 7-2A) at No. 10 Glades Day (6-1, 4-0 in 7-2A), 7 p.m. Monday: It's tough enough for some of the larger schools to slow down Kelvin Taylor. Smaller schools? No such chance. Glades Day 42-7.
Jensen Beach (3-4, 2-0 in 14-5A) at Glades Central (3-4, 2-0 in 4-5A), 7 p.m. Monday: Be honest: Preseason, you didn't have this one down as the de facto district-title game. Neither did we. And for good reason: It won't be close. Glades Central 42-6.
MATT PORTER'S PICKS
South Florida HEAT (3-6) at Boca Raton Christian (7-0), 4 p.m. Monday: HEAT has played a tough schedule and lost to the Blazers on Aug. 31. Boca Raton Christian 40-17.
Palm Beach Lakes (0-7, 0-3 in 14-6A) at Okeechobee (3-4, 1-2 in 14-6A), 6 p.m. Monday: Lakes will struggle with Brahmans running back D.J. Washington, who is fourth among large-school backs in rushing yards (666 on 81 carries). Okeechobee 30-12.
Sebastian River (5-2, 3-0 in 14-6A) at Forest Hill (1-6, 0-3 in 14-6A), 7 p.m. Monday: As hard as Forest Hill plays, this is a tuneup game for Sebastian before next week's big district showdown with South Fork. Sebastian River 33-6.
Wellington (3-4) at Vero Beach (5-1), 7 p.m. Monday: Wellington has proven itself to be a capable mid-tier team, but there's no tougher road venue in the area than the Citrus Bowl. Vero Beach 31-10.
Village Academy (3-3, 3-1 in 7-2A) at Jupiter Christian (2-5, 0-3 in 7-2A), 7 p.m. Monday at Dwyer: Village can lock in its first playoff berth by beating up one of its big brothers. Village Academy 48-14.
Miramar-Somerset Academy (1-5) at King's Academy (3-3), 1 p.m. Saturday: King's should be able to run plenty against Somerset, which has allowed more than 30 points per game this year. King's Academy 35-7.
Spanish River (0-7, 0-4 in 13-7A) at West Boca Raton (1-5, 1-3 in 13-7A), 6 p.m. Monday: Forgettable season for River, which has the worst offense (12 points scored in eight games) and defense (297 points allowed) in the area. West Boca Raton 31-0.
Jeff 13-4; 101-25.
Matt 12-4; 101-25.