IT'S CRUNCHTIME!This is the team of year where we separate the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, the players from the wannbes.
Every game means everything. One mistake and your season is over. That holds true in numerous districts, including District 16-6A where there is a four-way slugfest going on, District 14-6A where everything is still up in the air and District 12-6A where two old school powers have a playoff determining game tomorrow.
It's the old NBA Playoff saying "Win or Go Home". Or as Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith say it, "Lose and You're Going Fishing".
WEEK 8 RECAPWeek 8 had a real surprising result as Southridge beat Homestead 13-9 in the Game of the Week.
The Broncos offense was stifled by a staunch Southridge defense. The Spartans jumped out on the game's first play when Amos Young took a dive 75 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Homestead battled back to take a 9-6 lead into the half, but a fumbled by A.J. Guyton on the opening kickoff of the second half gave the Spartans the ball at Homestead's 45-yard line. But it was the other quarterback, Dantavious Parker, who came up with the big play when he found Gary Bush for a 30-yard touchdown pass for the lead and what ended up being the final margin.
Guyton was able to run around and gain yardage, but rather than taking underneath stuff that was open all game, he chose to try and go deep on almost every play. It didn't work against the Spartans who bent, but simply didn't break turning the Broncos away in the final two minutes of the game on the four yard line.
Booker T. Washington continued its dominance of Edison blowing the Red Raiders out 23-8 in a game that wasn't that close. It marks Booker T.'s seventh straight win over Edison.
WEEK 9 OUTLOOKAs was said above, the games are very important now. Lose and you're almost assuredly out.
In District 16-6A, South Dade plays Killian (Harris Field – Friday) in a battle of 2-1 teams in the district. The loser will probably be a long shot to make the playoffs. A win puts the Bucs in control of their own destiny because next week the Bucs face rival Homestead. A win there would guarantee them a spot in the playoffs.
The same can be said for Killian. Win out and the Cougars are in. Southridge has the easiest road though playing the only two teams that are out of the playoff hunt in District 16, Palmetto and Coral Reef.
If South Dade wins the next two games and makes the playoffs, it would be one of the more shocking happenings of the season after losing almost its entire team from last year's 10-1 squad that advanced to the Regional Final.
But Killian will more than likely hold off South Dade in a very low scoring tight game.
Jackson (6-1) faces Edison (4-3) (Traz Powell – Saturday) in a game that probably will determine which team will be the runner-up to Booker T. Washington. Jackson is not expected to beat BTW next week when it plays next week, so this game is for the season.
The Generals only loss came against Krop because of numerous turnovers. That's been Jackson's Achilles heel this year. The Red Raiders have shown to be a team that simply isn't as good as in year's past. Expect a Jackson win.
The last game that has huge implications is game that pits a couple of really bad teams.
Norland and Carol City (Traz Powell – Friday) are a combined 3-11, but the winner will probably be the district runner-up in District 12.
Norland could very well be 5-1 instead of 1-5, but because the Vikings can never punch the ball when they get inside the red zone, generally because of a fumble, they lose. Their losses this year including a 7-6 loss to Central where they missed an extra point and a 33-yard field goal on the game's final play, a 13-9 loss to Edison where they fumbled four times inside the 20, including a fumble at the goal line with 16 seconds to play, a 3-0 loss to Jackson where fumbles did them in again, a 24-12 loss to North Miami Beach where they turned the ball over in the red zone constantly.
Carol City, on the other hand, is just not very good at all. It's the least talent Walt Frazier has probably had in his career at Carol City, but even in that, a win over Norland will give the Chiefs a spot in the playoffs. A loss and the Chiefs will be out of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
If Norland doesn't turn the ball over, expect a Norland win because it has a much better defense than Carol City. The only team that put a beating on Norland this year was the nation's No. 3 team Lakeland in Lakeland.
TEAMS TO WATCHTruthfully, it's no longer about individual players, it's about team. The best teams will be the teams that play like a team. Individual performances are fine and dandy, but the teams to watch that you can check out the best talent in the county at this week are going to be in Homestead at Harris Field Thursday and Friday and Traz Powell Saturday.
There, you can check out Homestead, South Dade and Killian over two nights and on Saturday, Jackson and Edison have a crew of future stars.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org