There are so many ways that you can look at last Friday night’s Miami Central 41-28 win at No. 2 seed defending 5A state champion Plantation American Heritage.
The Rockets, who were the No. 3 seed in a region that was loaded from the beginning, kept the pressure on all night long as they came away with a win as they look to return to the state championship game for the third straight year after winning at the 6A level the past two seasons.
For head coach Roland Smith and his Rockets, it was all about playing four quarters – even after falling behind early. But like they have all season, this team knows all about late November and that everything is at stake in each game.
For Patriots’ head coach Pat Surtain and his team, it was indeed a strange season that started out with a lot of promise and a national ranking and ended at home on a miserable night with four losses. Playing with a gifted receiver at QB most of the year made it tough against quality opponents.
What last Friday night did was show how far we have come in south Florida – with two giant powers facing off in a game that could have easily been a state title contest.
It is really no longer Miami-Dade vs. Broward more than it is south Florida vs. the state. These young men, especially last Friday evening, have competed with and against each other for a decade – going back to youth football days. There is no hate. It’s competitive respect, and it has been on display for a long time.
What it has become is a relay race – 2A through 8A – where the teams of this region of the state get better because of each other, and as the torch was handed off to the Rockets, it will be up to them – or unbeaten Miami Killian – to continue this tradition of championship football and make it to the state title game.
Many local programs have finally gotten it – and it doesn’t always include yearly trips to different places around the country to accomplish their goals of playing an elite, competitive schedule. While many areas of the country can boast awesome teams, talent and anything else you want to add, but the sheer volume of elite ATHLETES in a 100-mile radius down here is mind-boggling. Everything from Olympic gold medalists to NFL Hall of Famers, Major League baseball players, professional soccer players and high-level women’s sports, who were raised in that area that is known as south Florida.
We need to see more St. Thomas Aquinas/Central games, more American Heritage/Christopher Columbus contests and Miami Northwestern/Chaminade matchups as well as other games that would have more interest and put fans in our seats. This area needs to let the fans see the big matchups right here at home – and not have to stay up to 1 a.m. just to see another quality California program win another game – all in the name of being a mythical “national champion”.
Nobody can dispute the sheer numbers of football prospects that pour out of this area every year, finding their way on to high-level collegiate teams before making their way to the NFL, so the proof of the elite football player has been proven for decades.
SECOND ROUND WAY VERY BUSY
In addition to that titanic matchup between the Rockets and Patriots, there were some other interesting games this past week.
No. 5 Miami Christopher Columbus 27, No. 1 Davie Western 8
No. 2 Miami Palmetto 27, No. 3 Deerfield Beach 14
Huge wins for both teams that will set up a third game this season – and that is unheard of. Huge contest as south Florida still looks for an 8A team to compete for a state crown. Both programs are well coached and stacked with plenty of talent. Should come down to the wire.
No. 1 Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 42, No. 4 Miramar 12
No. 2 Homestead 28, No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Dillard 14
Homestead has come a long way and nobody appreciates the job they have done more than those programs that are building. Big victory over a solid Dillard team. The Raiders rolled – and while this Friday will be a monumental game for the Broncos – reaching this around – advantage St. Thomas who does it every year and have played a crazy good schedule. Will be worth watching if you are in Fort Lauderdale.
No. 8 Plantation 42, No. 4 Coconut Creek 7
No. 3 Miami Northwestern 49, No. 2 Naples 35
Steve Davis is a great coach who has won a state title, so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to build teams and play top competition. After losing to Coconut Creek early in the year, they have rebounded, but they fully understand that they are up against in a Miami Northwestern team that has come alive at the right time. The Bulls have scored 120 points in two playoff games.
No. 1 Miami Killian 37, No. 5 Fort Lauderdale Stranahan 0
Well, the Cougars did everything they had to do up until this point, winning all 12 games. Beating the Dragons in a game that began nearly two hours late, they got their focus and posted another complete game. The bar raises toward the sky on Friday at home against No. 3 seed Central, which Cougars’ head coach Derrick Gibson knows very well.
No. 1 Miami Gulliver Prep 43, No. 4 Miami Booker T. Washington 0
Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons 42, No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest 0
The preliminaries are out of the way and the speculation has ended. With the Raiders taking care of business against a team they lost to back in 2019, and the defending 4A state champion Chiefs beating the Panthers for the second time this season, we are on for Friday night, and it should be one of the more entertaining game of this third week.
No. 1 Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 45, No. 4 Miami Edison 0
No. 3 West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman 42, No. 2 Miami Florida Christian 7
From the time they walked out of Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee as losers last December, the Lions have never lost focus, answering just about every bell. They are indeed in elite company, looking for a sixth consecutive state title game appearance. Coach Jack Daniels has a team to keep an eye on for the future, but if they beat Chaminade-Madonna this season, it would be a MAJOR upset.
No. 5 Fort Pierce John Carroll 35, No. 1 Hollywood Avant Garde 0
No. 2 Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 35, No. 3 Belle Glade Glades Day 7
Well, Champagnat is back, and the Lions – just like Chaminade-Madonna – are going for an amazing sixth consecutive trip to the state finals. Playing a very good Glades Day team on the road, coach Hector Clavijo and his team know all about this time of year. While the Rams came up with a big win against a tremendous team, they are a program that has done some great things.
TRACKING POSITIONS: Keeping An Eye On The Football Talent In Miami-Dade & Broward Counties Year Round. https://larryblustein.com/prospects/tracking-south-florida-prospects