Posted: 12:55 pm Monday, November 18th, 2013

Look Ahead to the Second Round of the Playoffs: A look at this week’s best games 

By Anthony Chiang

The first round was fun, but the second round should be even better.

Palm Beach Gardens quarterback JP Caruso will need another big performance to lead the Gators past the Broncos this week. (Photo by Richard Graulich)

With seven local teams remaining in the FHSAA playoffs, we still have plenty of football games to look forward to this week. Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Pierce Central are still alive in the Class 8A bracket. Dwyer is still kicking in the Class 7A bracket. There are no teams left in the Class 6A playoffs. The Class 5A bracket never had any teams from the area to begin with. Clewiston is still playing for a state title in the Class 4A playoffs. In the Class 3A bracket, Cardinal Newman advanced to the second round. Glades Day is the only local team left in the Class 2A playoffs, and the Class 1A bracket doesn’t include any teams from the area.

Here is a list of the local teams still left in the FHSAA playoffs:

Palm Beach Central (8-3): Hosts Palm Beach Gardens in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
Fort Pierce Central (9-1): Hosts Bradenton-Manatee in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
Palm Beach Gardens (7-4): Travels to face Palm Beach Central in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
Dwyer (11-0): Hosts Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely in the Class 7A regional semifinals.
Clewiston (10-1): Travels to face Cocoa in the Class 4A regional finals.
Cardinal Newman (8-3): Hosts Miami-Westminster Christian in the Class 3A regional finals.
Glades Day (8-3): Hosts Hialeah-Champagnat in Class 2A regional finals.

Games of the Week

Palm Beach Gardens (7-4) at Palm Beach Central (8-3): These two teams faced each other just a few weeks ago on Nov. 8. The Broncos won the regular-season matchup 20-13, but Palm Beach Central was without quarterback Kemar Downer and Palm Beach Gardens was without running back Tommy Monday. This game should be a little bit different. The Broncos are the favorite, as they enter the regional semifinals with a seven-game winning streak. But the Gators showed they can play with just about anybody when quarterback JP Caruso is on. The Appalachian State verbal commit threw for four touchdowns to lead Palm Beach Gardens to a first-round victory over Park Vista. If the Gators are going to pull off the upset and get past the Broncos, Caruso will have to replicate that performance.

Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely (6-5) at Dwyer (11-0):
Two months ago, nobody would have looked twice at this matchup. Blanche Ely started the season 1-5 and the Panthers were on their way to a perfect regular-season record. Well, the Tigers have won five straight since that point and enter Friday’s regional semifinals game with plenty of confidence. West Boca Raton never had a chance against Blanche Ely in the first round, losing 44-20. The Panthers can’t afford to look ahead to a potential matchup against Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas in the regional finals. The Tigers have the talent to pull off the upset if Dwyer doesn’t take them seriously.

Bradenton-Manatee (11-0) at Fort Pierce Central (9-1): The Cobras will have home field advantage, but they are still the underdog in this game. Manatee enters the matchup as one of the state’s best teams and as the favorite to win the Class 8A state title. Manatee has eliminated Fort Pierce Central from the playoffs the past two seasons. Will it happen again this year?