Posted: 8:46 pm Saturday, November 26th, 2011
By Matt Porter
The argument that every playoff game is a good one doesn’t necessarily ring true when a one-loss powerhouse rolls over a happy-to-be-there .500 squad in the first round.
This week, believe it: They’re all good games.
None of Friday’s third-round playoff games are better than Miami-Norland (12-0) at Glades Central (12-0) in a Class 5A regional final. The Raiders (No. 1 in the Post) should have all starters back for the first time in two games. They’ll need all hands pulling together against Norland and Miami commit Randy “Duke” Johnson, the top prospect in Dade County and viewed by many recruiting analysts as the top senior running back in the state.
That’s far from the only stellar game on the schedule. Palm Beach Gardens’ hard-fought win over Seminole Ridge earned it a regional final date with Miramar (11-0), the state’s top-ranked team in 8A. The Patriots feature a strong run game and a defense known as “The Dark Side.” Gardens (9-2) needs to shine on both sides of the ball to earn its first trip to states since 2005.
In 7A, Dwyer (11-1) hosts perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2), which like Dwyer boasts a swarming defense. The Raiders made a September statement with a home win over Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, then top-ranked team in California and a top-five team in the nation. Also in 7A, Fort Pierce Central (9-1) seems to have met its match in Bradenton-Manatee (10-2), which has lost only to out-of-state teams. The Hurricanes have outscored Florida-based opponents 440-101.
American Heritage (10-1) must avoid a letdown after ousting fellow juggernaut University in a Class 3A regional final that felt like a title fight. Tampa-Berkeley Prep (12-0) is no slouch, having outscored opponents by a 428-74 margin. Same idea applies to Glades Day (9-3), which must hit the road to play St. Petersburg-Admiral Farragut (11-1) in a 2A state semifinal a week after stopping rival Jupiter Christian at home.
This week’s plan is the same as the first two weeks of the postseason. We’ll have the Playbook video and predictions column, plus breakdowns of each game here on the blog. Follow us on Twitter (@mattyports and @jeffgreer) for news and updates, and be sure to check PBGametime.com regularly for stories and more.