The Bulls look to continue their dominance of South Florida as they look to extend their shutout streak to 34 quarters when the face Columbus in a rematch of a game earlier this year that the Bulls won 42-0.
The biggest difference between the Explorers when they first played and the Explorers now is Columbus running back Jakhari Gore who is just a freshman, but has running back blood in his family lineage as a cousin to former UM running back and current San Francisco 49er Frank Gore.
Gore did not get any carries against Northwestern, but since starter Jaren Jones went down with an injury, Gore has run away with the position posting three big games: 18 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown against Miami High, 15 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns against South Miami and 20 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown against Killian.
However, the addition of Gore won't make much of a difference as Northwestern should rout Columbus again. The Explorers might be the first team to get on the scoreboard against Northwestern since Killian did 30 quarters ago, but expect a 35 point win in the very least for the determined Bulls.
In tonight's other game, Southridge plays host to Sunset. It's another rematch from a game earlier this season when Southridge beat Sunset 35-14, but that was midway through the season.
The Spartans have simply gotten much better since their first meeting with the Knights. Southridge's defense has also been spectacular throughout the season and capped a 9-1 regular season with a 54-0 thrashing of Coral Reef.
Running back Deshon Daniels has been the workhorse for the Spartans rushing for over 1,300 yards and a county-high 26 touchdowns. He will be relied upon to carry the load in the playoffs. He was third only to Northwestern's Anwtain Easterling and Norland's Hannibal Beauford in rushing yards.
That being said, we breakdown the four biggest games in Dade County this week:
(All game start at 7:30 p.m.)
Tonight – Northwestern v. Columbus @ Traz Powell Stadium
The Bulls are on a mission. Once again, the way to beat Northwestern is fairly simple, but talking about it and doing it are two completely different things. Pressure Jacory Harris. Put him on the ground. Make him leave the pocket. It's quite simple. Oh yeah, there is still a matter of containing Easterling. Ok, maybe it isn't that simple. The shut out streak continues.
Northwestern 38 Columbus 0
Tonight – Southridge v. Sunset @ Harris Field
The Spartans game plan starts and ends with running back Deshon Daniels. Now is the time to see if Southridge is for real, but the Spartans could play a not-so-good game and still win easily. The Knights are in the playoffs because of the district they are in. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Southridge 31 Sunset 7
Friday – Central v. Coral Gables @ Tropical Park
Central recovered quickly from its drubbing at the hands of Northwestern by smashing a Krop team that has a pretty good defense 41-0. The Rockets (9-1) are looking to get that rematch with Northwestern in the regional final. Coral Gables is the second best passing team in the county behind the Bulls. They have put up some gaudy numbers on offense, but Central will squeak this one out and get a big time match up with Southridge next week.
Central 21 Coral Gables 17
Friday – Homestead v. Varela @ FIU
The Broncos looked deadly midseason with an offense that scored so many points only Northwestern could compare. But the realty is, Homestead can't run the ball. Not even a little bit. There is zero threat of a rushing attack so Varela will be able to sit seven guys in coverage and see if the Broncos bite on the bait of trying to always make the big play. Varela has an excellent rushing attack and could cause some confusion for the Broncos defense that plays eight players on the line of scrimmage. But the athletes will pull it out before getting destroyed by Northwestern next week. Homestead 17 Varela 14 Friday – Pace v. Cardinal Gibbons @ Pace The Spartans a last second field goal against Lakeland Kathleen from being undefeated. Gibbons' only loss came at the hands of Glades Central in a 58-13 trashing, but otherwise, the Redskins haven't had a close game. Pace has its sites set on a potential mega Regional Final game against Glades Central, but better not fall asleep against Gibbons. Pace 27 Cardinal Gibbons 21
State PredictionsI'll go on the record and make picks for the state championship game and who will win it all. Remember, this is for entertainment purposes only.
Northwestern over Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach Gardens gets back to the title game to defend, but the Bulls are unstoppable.)
Lakeland over St. Thomas Aquinas (Rematch of last year, same outcome.)
Nease over Armwood (It's repeat time for Nease over the same team.)
Glades Central over Godby (Glades Central regains the title.)
Clewiston over Bolles (No Chaminade this time. Clewiston has a win over Glades Central. That's how good Clewiston is.)
Pahokee over Trinity Catholic (It's revenge for the Blue Devils.)
North Florida Christian over American Heritage Delray (Don't believe the hype of a 10-0 Dade Christian team. They play no one.)
FAMU High over Calvary Christian (There might be ten people at this game.)
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org