Posted: 12:36 pm Monday, November 11th, 2013

Look Ahead to the First Round of the Playoffs: Inside the new Top 10, plus this week’s best games 

By Anthony Chiang

The playoffs are here. How long have you been waiting to read those words?

Palm Beach Central jumped to the No. 2 spot in this week's rankings. (Photo by Allen Eyestone)

First, let’s start with all of the playoff brackets. Park Vista, Seminole Ridge, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Central and Fort Pierce Central are the local teams that are in the Class 8A bracket. In the Class 7A bracket, Dwyer and West Boca Raton are the only teams from the area included. Boynton Beach is the lone squad from Palm Beach County in the Class 6A bracket. There are no local teams in the Class 5A playoffs. Glades Central and Clewiston are part of the Class 4A bracket. Cardinal Newman and Pahokee will represent Palm Beach County in the Class 3A playoffs. In the Class 2A bracket, Village Academy and Glades Day qualified. There are no teams from the area in the Class 1A bracket.

Here’s the final Post Top 10 of the regular season:

1. Dwyer (10-0)
2. Palm Beach Central (7-3)
3. Fort Pierce Central (8-1)
4. Park Vista (8-2)
5. American Heritage (6-3)
6. Royal Palm Beach (8-2)
7. Boynton Beach (9-1)
8. Cardinal Newman (7-3)
9. West Boca Raton (7-3)
10. Palm Beach Gardens (6-4)

Also considered: Pahokee 6-4, Seminole Ridge 6-4, Glades Day 7-3, Glades Central 5-5, Clewiston 9-1.

This will be the final Top 10 of the regular season. The next version will be released after the playoffs are completed. Dwyer is obviously still No. 1 this week. But the big change is at No. 2. Palm Beach Central continued to jump up the rankings, winning its sixth straight game on Friday. The Broncos are playing unbelievable football and their running game has been unstoppable during the second half of the season. With Fort Pierce Central dropping its first game of the year, it allowed Palm Beach Central to take the No. 2 spot. The Broncos have taken advantage of their big offensive line, using it to create running lanes for stars Tommy McDonald and Kemar Downer.

Park Vista rebounded from its second loss of the season to earn a win against Olympic Heights in a shortened game Friday. The Cobras ended the regular season at No. 4 after spending much of the year in the top three. Meanwhile, American Heritage is still in the top five despite failing to make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The Stallions came out of Monday’s three-way tiebreaker without a playoffs spot. Still, American Heritage is a very talented team that has earned wins over Cardinal Newman, Miami-Gulliver Prep, Glades Central and King’s Academy this season. It’s hasn’t been the best year for the Stallions, but it definitely hasn’t been a bad one either.

Royal Palm Beach is another squad that is high in the rankings despite not making the playoffs. Last week’s game against Seminole Ridge was a perfect example of why that’s the case, as the Wildcats dominated the playoff-bound Hawks 35-0. Boynton Beach was off, finishing the regular season at No. 7. Cardinal Newman took care of business against Spanish River, moving up one spot to No. 8. West Boca Raton rested during Week 11, as the Bulls came in at No. 9. Finally, Palm Beach Gardens is the final team in this week’s Top 10. The Gators dropped  three spots to No. 10 after a loss to Palm Beach Central on Friday. The end of the regular season has not been kind to Palm Beach Gardens, as it lost two of its final three games.

Games of the Week

No. 4 Park Vista (8-2) at No. 10 Palm Beach Gardens (6-4): This is probably the best first-round matchup of any game involving two Palm Beach County teams. The Cobras have been one of the best teams in the county for most of the season and Palm Beach Gardens has not been far behind. However, the Gators have not looked great lately. Palm Beach Gardens has lost two of its past three games, and the only win during that stretch came in a sloppy performance against Wellington. That will quickly be forgotten if the Gators can get past the Cobras, however. These two teams played each other in September and Park Vista won 28-19. Will the result be the same Friday?

Seminole Ridge (6-4) at No. 2 Palm Beach Central (7-3): It’s always fun when rivals face off in the playoffs. The Broncos have the edge in this matchup, as they enter the postseason on a six-game winning streak. On the other side, the Hawks lost 35-0 to Royal Palm Beach in their final game of the regular season. These two teams met in the regular season and Palm Beach Central won 37-13. Broncos quarterback Kemar Downer threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score in the contest. Seminole Ridge will have to find a way to limit Downer to win Friday.

No. 7 Boynton Beach (9-1) at Miami Central (8-1): The Tigers have had a great year, finishing the regular season with a 9-1 record. Transfer quarterback Lamar Jackson has been one of the best players in the county. But Boynton Beach has not faced a team like Miami Central this year. The Rockets are not only one of the best teams in the state, they are one of the best teams in the nation. Central features a potent running back duo of Miami verbal commit Joe Yearby and Florida verbal commit Dalvin Cook. Boynton Beach will have to find a way to stop the tandem to win.