High school football picks: Several interesting games highlight opening week
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Spring sessions are long gone, as are the seven-on-seven tournaments, summer camps, fall practices and kickoff classics.
Yes, believe it or not, the regular season's finally here. And it wouldn't be the opening week if there weren't highly anticipated matchups and rivalry games throughout the area.
Not only do we get Delray Beach's second edition of Football Armageddon (or Atlantic at American Heritage for the less hyperbolic), but we also get a repeat of last year's glossy ESPN matchup between Dwyer and Glades Central, though this one doesn't have as much hype around it. The icing on the cake would've been Seminole Ridge at Palm Beach Central, but that game was postponed because of flooding that has closed school in Loxahatchee through Thursday.
Story lines abound in the season's opening week. Among them: Twelve schools have new coaches, plus several programs (American Heritage, Dwyer, Glades Central, Glades Day and Seminole Ridge) enter the season with major state hopes.
So strap yourselves in and get ready to go: High school football is ready for a big, fast start. Are you?
GAMES OF THE WEEK (All games at 7 p.m. Friday unless noted.)
Atlantic at American Heritage
In a Delray Beach showdown with Division I talent everywhere, the biggest disparity is Heritage's O-line, which didn't have a great game against Cocoa in their kickoff classic, against Atlantic's potentially dominant front four. Heritage has the best player on the field - five-star senior running back Greg Bryant -- but it took him a lot of carries to break 100 yards last week. But Heritage is coming off a state title, while Atlantic always seems to leave its fans wanting more.
Jeff Greer's pick: Heritage 38-28.
Matt Porter's pick: Heritage 34-31.
Glades Central at Dwyer
If Dwyer's going to break its 0-for-6 streak against the Raiders, this could be the year to do it. Glades Central has skilled players like Will Likely and Aaron Baker, but has had trouble protecting its quarterback, allowing six sacks last week. Dwyer's defense, one of the best in the state, could get more than that.
Jeff's pick: Dwyer 35-14.
Matt's pick: Dwyer 30-17.
Santaluces at Park Vista
Park Vista may have a smaller and younger offensive line than ever before, but it also might be the most athletic team Brian Dodds has ever coached. Santaluces has some quality, especially linebackers Artez Fulton and Rod Theodore, but this is a challenge for the Chiefs.
Jeff's pick: Park Vista 28-7.
Matt's pick: Park Vista 34-10.
Jupiter at John I. Leonard
Jupiter is replacing 27 seniors and will need time under new coach Doug Uccellini, so trust Leonard's passing attack at home.
Jeff's pick: John I. Leonard 28-21.
Matt's pick: John I. Leonard 31-14.
Treasure Coast at Village Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Talk about a game no one wants to predict. Village quarterback Larry Brihm threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns against Palm Beach Central, an all-around better team than T-Coast. But Village also gave up 68 points and wore down in the second half against a bigger, deeper Central.
Jeff's pick: Treasure Coast 32-28.
Matt's pick: Treasure Coast 38-31.
West Boca Raton at Boca Raton, Saturday
Boca quarterback Kevin Anderson always puts the ball in the right place for the athletes around him. West Boca can run the ball on most teams with power back Eugene Bethea and shifty David Tanis, but the Bulls could struggle just enough to shut down the Bobcats.
Jeff's pick: Boca 28-14.
Matt's pick: Boca 24-20.
Jeff Greer's picks
St. Andrew's at Miami-Florida Christian, 7 p.m. Thursday: The Scots still are adjusting to their new coach, while Florida Christian returns 15 starters. Florida Christian 26-13.
Jensen Beach vs. Dakota Ridge (Colo)., 9 p.m. Thursday in Orlando: Hard to know how an out-of-state team matches up with the Falcons, but it's a rebuilding year at Jensen. Dakota Ridge 21-14.
South Florida HEAT at Boca Raton Christian, 4 p.m.: Blazers got a boost in Atlantic transfer QB A.J. Puente, but offense struggled last week. HEAT 16-13.
Fort Pierce Westwood at Fort Pierce Central: Big crosstown rivalry game will be one-sided for the second consecutive season. Central 42-6.
Summit Christian at Forest Hill: Things appear in line for The Hill to have its best season in a while with athletes like Kerolin Francois and Shaborn Marshall. Forest Hill 28-7.
King's Academy at Tampa-Gulf: Lots to like about new coach Heath Nivens and his bulldozer style of offense, with James Holland and Garrett Larson in the wing-T. King's 35-14.
Wellington at Boynton Beach: Chatter from Wellington says the Wolverines will be better, with more athletes, while Boynton's lines will be a lot smaller this year. Wellington 21-18.
Royal Palm Beach at Pahokee, 7:30 p.m.: Will Pahokee be better this year? Sure, but this schedule is brutal. Royal Palm was all over Glades Central last week. Royal Palm Beach 35-7.
Clewiston at Plantation-American Heritage, 7:30 p.m.: Clewiston has playoff hopes, with huge OL Clem Nealy and some quality athletes, but Heritage is a state contender. Heritage 35-14.
Glades Day at Miami-Monsignor Pace, 7:30 p.m.: Last year's matchup was decided by a touchdown, and this one should be just as close. All about experience for the Gators. Monsignor Pace 21-20.
Matt Porter's picks
John Carroll at Vero Beach-St. Edward's, 7 p.m. Thursday: John Carroll had a tough time moving the ball in a preseason jamboree at Moore Haven, but should handle St. Ed's. John Carroll 27-13.
Inlet Grove at Cardinal Newman: Newman should be fired up after stifling Glades Day in a kickoff classic win, while Inlet sputtered against Jupiter. Newman 38-7.
Palm Beach Lakes at Palm Beach Gardens: Gardens has had the upper hand in this rivalry, though new coaches (Gardens' Rob Freeman, Lakes' Willie Snead) make it more interesting this year. Gardens 28-18.
Centennial at Merritt Island: Good one for fans of power football -- both teams have plenty of muscle in the trenches. The visitors have a little more. Centennial 17-13.
Suncoast at Spanish River: New coaches and new philosophies for both teams. Suncoast has more talent to work with at this point. Suncoast 17-3.
Port St. Lucie at Okeechobee: Close game between two athletic teams, but the edge goes to the Jaguars, who have the best player in quarterback D.J. Juste. Port St. Lucie 24-20.
Lake Worth at Olympic Heights: Haven't had a good look at new Lake Worth QB Luis Peguero and new O-Heights head coach Kevin Fleury because both teams ran into weather problems in the preseason. Lake Worth 18-10.
Miami-LaSalle at Pope John Paul II: Pope's running game helped put up 61 points on Marathon last week and looks primed for its Southeastern Football Conference debut. Pope 33-14.
South Fork at Martin County: Scoreboard should be busy as two talented quarterbacks - South Fork's Cody Labanowitz and Martin's Noah Mullen -- go at it. South Fork 35-24.
Benjamin at Miami-Archbishop Curley, 2 p.m. Saturday: With senior back Charlie Nicklaus and big tight end Jon Pavlov, Benjamin has high hopes of winning the first Southeastern Football Conference title. Benjamin 22-10.