Posted: 5:44 pm Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Will this be the best week of the football season? 

By Jeff Greer

Sure, there’s the excitement that comes with the opening weeks of the regular season and playoffs. And people love rivalry week, which is the last week of the season.

But will the week of Oct. 21 be the best week of the season in Palm Beach County?

There are a handful of hugely important district games, contests that will go a long way toward deciding district titles. Just look at the matchups:

Palm Beach Gardens at Seminole Ridge: With Wellington and Jupiter struggling, this game in Loxahatchee, one we circled back in May as a big one, has the makings of a classic. Seminole Ridge played in its fair share of big games last year in a district stacked with Atlantic and Park Vista, but this year, there’s only one game that matters in District 9-8A. Winner likely gets a home playoff game in November.

Park Vista at Boca Raton: If Vista wins here, it has a great shot at a district title. Boca has been spunky in its recent games, save for a 47-10 drubbing at the hands of Gardens on Friday. But the Bobcats need to tighten up on defense and limit turnovers in this one. A win would send shock waves through the district and set up Boca beautifully for a playoff spot.

Palm Beach Central at John I. Leonard: Central lost to Park Vista but still has designs on the postseason. The Broncos face a must-win road game at Leonard, a team that lost in stunning fashion to Boca two weeks ago. Both teams are 0-1 in the district, so the loser of this game (especially if it’s Leonard, which still has to play Park Vista) will be in grave danger of missing the playoffs.

Centennial at Vero Beach: It’s a three-team district and Vero is the favorite. Centennial already beat Treasure Coast, which means a win here clinches a district title for Centennial.

Dwyer at Atlantic: The two best teams (on paper) in District 13-7A go head-to-head in Delray Beach. Combined, these teams have at least 15 Division I prospects on their rosters. Both are undefeated in district play, though neither has played Royal Palm or Lake Worth yet, which leads us to …

Royal Palm Beach at Lake Worth: Oh, how convenient. The other two playoff contenders in 13-7A are meeting in Lake Worth. With the exception of Park Vista, Royal Palm has been the surprise of the year at 5-1. Lake Worth has a district loss — to West Boca — so the Trojans cannot afford to lose any more district games or they’ll be in serious danger of missing the postseason.

Fort Pierce Central at Martin County: Before the season started, the talent level at Martin County and the impressive new offense at Central had us thinking this would be a big game. Well, nothing’s changed. They’re still favorites to go to the playoffs. This one should decide that critical home playoff game, too.

Jensen Beach at Boynton Beach: With Glades Central doing what it does best — cruising through the regular season — the safe money is on these teams fighting for second place in 14-5A. Suncoast, which is 3-3 but 0-2 in its district, will be intently watching. Boynton’s 2-0 in the district, with a win over Suncoast. Jensen’s 1-0.

Fort Lauderdale-Calvary Christian at Cardinal Newman: Well, a few weeks ago we pegged Newman’s win over King’s as the Crusaders’ flag-planting moment. A win over Calvary Christian basically seals Newman’s playoff spot. Why? Nobody in this district is nearly as good as American Heritage, and neither team has played Heritage yet. Calvary Christian lost to King’s, which needs Calvary to beat Newman to have any hope of making the playoffs.

Even some non-district tilts will be fun.

Ocala-Trinity Catholic at Glades Day: One of the more famous high school programs in the state in recent years comes down to Belle Glade to play Glades Day, winners of seven state titles. All eyes will be on Kelvin Taylor, who is inching closer and closer to the state’s career rushing record. He’s 802 yards away from the record with four regular-season games to go and presumably at least one playoff game.

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