High school football picks: Central-Gardens rematch tops playoff openers
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
by Matt Porter
In playoff football, the past does not necessarily foretell the future. That's what Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Central are hoping, anyway.
Both teams open the 2012 postseason by hosting teams that beat them in September. Park Vista beat Seminole Ridge 21-7, one of its finest efforts in a 5-0 start. Palm Beach Gardens edged Palm Beach Central 10-6, stifling the Broncos' running game with a dominant defense.
But the scene has shifted. Ridge looks a lot different than the team that started 0-2, its three-pronged running game boosting a confident, capable defense off the field. Like the Hawks, Central found its game and took home a district title. Neither Park Vista nor Gardens have looked quite right over the final stretch, so we have the home teams as first-round favorites.
The 8A battle royale is hardly the highlight of what should be an outstanding first round. In 7A, Atlantic's dream season will continue if it takes care of Lauderdale Lakes-Boyd Anderson. Dwyer's path to the second round goes through high-flying Oakland Park-Northeast.
Glades Central's feeling its familiar playoff mojo in 5A, while Glades Day has an easy warmup this week for a tough 2A playoffs. Cardinal Newman hopes to upset Fort Lauderdale-University, which has designs on a high-wattage second-round matchup with American Heritage, which will be as competitive as a 3A state title game.
To cap it all off, the Southeastern Football Conference holds its inaugural championship bowl Saturday at FAU Stadium, where Benjamin will face Fort Lauderdale-Pine Crest.
A great weekend of playoff football, and don't expect all these picks to be right.
(All games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted)
Class 8A regional quarterfinals
Palm Beach Gardens (7-2) at Palm Beach Central (7-2)
Central's running game has been playoff-ready since September, and Gardens' defensive line has been banged-up of late.
Jeff's pick: Palm Beach Central 30-20.
Matt's pick: Palm Beach Central 31-27.
Park Vista (6-2) at Seminole Ridge (8-1)
Both teams like to run the ball and, by association, carry on long drives. In a game of limited possessions, turnovers could be decisive.
Jeff's pick: Seminole Ridge 20-16.
Matt's pick: Seminole Ridge 24-13.
Treasure Coast (5-3) at Tarpon Springs-East Lake (9-1)
Neither defense has been a world-beater, but we'll take East Lake's quality passing game against Treasure Coast, which can be thrown on.
Jeff's pick: East Lake 22-10.
Matt's pick: East Lake 24-22.
Class 7A regional quarterfinals
Dwyer (8-2) at Oakland Park-Northeast (9-1)
As usual, Dwyer's offensive line and quarterback play will decide its fate. Its defense can handle anyone, even star Northeast receiver Stacy Coley.
Jeff's pick: Dwyer 31-28.
Matt's pick: Dwyer 23-14.
Englewood-Lemon Bay (7-3) at Fort Pierce Central (9-0)
Central's defense doesn't get the credit it deserves, though that's mostly because the offense is so good. This is a walkover win against a team that allows nearly as many points (23 per game average) as it scores (29).
Jeff's pick: Fort Pierce Central 42-0.
Matt's pick: Fort Pierce Central 44-10.
Martin County (4-6) at Punta Gorda-Charlotte (6-4)
A three-game losing streak heading into the playoffs doesn't inspire much confidence in Martin County, which beat Charlotte 14-10 in last year's first round.
Jeff's pick: Charlotte 28-10.
Matt's pick: Charlotte 27-3.
Lauderdale Lakes-Boyd Anderson (7-2) at Atlantic (8-2)
Just as the postseason arrives the state media rankings and statewide computer forecasts recognize Atlantic as a state-title contender in 7A.
Jeff's pick: Atlantic 28-24.
Matt's pick: Atlantic 33-20.
Class 6A regional quarterfinals
South Fork (9-1) at Melbourne-Palm Bay (6-4)
Don't be put off by Palm Bay's four losses. They've been against good opponents. That strength of schedule could set Palm Bay apart, but South Fork is plenty capable.
Jeff's pick: Palm Bay 28-21.
Matt's pick: Palm Bay 20-17
Class 5A regional quarterfinals
Rockledge (7-3) at Glades Central (6-4)
The Raiders have their offense moving a bit better, but the defense's growth and maturity has been key. Forget the 0-4 start; they'll be a tough out in the playoffs.
Jeff's pick: Glades Central 24-14.
Matt's pick: Glades Central 20-13.
Jensen Beach (5-5) at Merritt Island (9-1)
Look at the numbers: Jensen Beach struggles to score (15.6 points per game), while Merritt Island allows just 6.4 points per game.
Jeff's pick: Merritt Island 35-0.
Matt's pick: Merritt Island 34-10.
Class 4A regional semifinals
Miami-Gulliver Prep (5-5) at Inlet Grove (5-4)
Inlet Grove gets another shot at the playoffs, this time with a home game and a district title to its name. Shawun Lurry can be the difference-maker, but this is a tough one.
Jeff's pick: Gulliver Prep 20-13.
Matt's pick: Gulliver Prep 24-19.
Clewiston (4-6) at Cocoa (8-2)
Cocoa beat American Heritage in the preseason and got smoked by University in September. Clewiston hasn't faced anyone that tough.
Jeff's pick: Cocoa 49-14.
Matt's pick: Cocoa 35-7.
Class 3A regional semifinals
Cardinal Newman (9-1) at Fort Lauderdale-University (8-0)
Last year's first-round matchup wasn't pretty when they met. This one will be just as tough for Newman, since University is better this year. The Crusaders need big games from their biggest players: Travis Rudolph, Devonte Brown and Matt Burke.
Jeff's pick: University 42-21.
Matt's pick: University 41-31.
Hollywood-Chaminade Madonna (8-2) at American Heritage (10-0)
As good as Chaminde's record is, it's hard to find a more complete football team in Class 3A than American Heritage. The Stallions are a near-lock to return to the state final.
Jeff's pick: American Heritage 49-0.
Matt's pick: American Heritage 42-7.
Class 2A regional semifinals
Village Academy (4-5) at Miami-Dade Christian (10-0)
Village takes its high-flying passing attack down south to take on a team built around a very solid running game. It'll be quick strike vs. sustained drives.
Jeff's pick: Dade Christian 38-28.
Matt's pick: Dade Christian 35-20.
Hialeah-Champagnat Catholic (2-8) at Glades Day (7-2)
A mismatch even if Glades Day had an average running back (let's say his name is Melvin Baylor). Since they have record-breaking star Kelvin Taylor, the Gators should be able to score at will.
Jeff's pick: Glades Day 42-7.
Matt's pick: Glades Day 52-6.
SFC Championship, 7 p.m. Saturday at FAU
Benjamin (9-1) vs. Fort Lauderdale-Pine Crest (9-1)
A month ago, Benjamin jumped out to a 28-6 lead and coasted to a 15-point win. This one will be a lot closer, but the Bucs have the edge.
Jeff's pick: Benjamin 33-24.
Matt's pick: Benjamin 31-27.
Jeff 13-3 last week, 135-33 overall
Matt 10-6 last week, 133-37 overall