Posted: 10:40 am Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Weekend Rewind: 4 takeaways from the second round of the playoffs 

By Anthony Chiang

After 13 weeks of meaningful football, only three local teams are left.

Palm Beach Gardens advanced to the Class 8A regional finals with a victory over Palm Beach Central on Friday. (Photo by Allen Eyestone)

Palm Beach Gardens continued to surprise people, exploding for 45 points in a win over Palm Beach Central to advance in the Class 8A bracket. The Gators’ offense has scored 79 points over the first two rounds of the playoffs. Up north, Fort Pierce Central upset Bradenton-Manatee to move on in Class 8A. Meanwhile, Dwyer made it look easy again. The Panthers beat Pompano Beach-Ely to set up an intriguing matchup with Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A regional finals. However, Cardinal Newman, Palm Beach Central, Clewiston and Glades Day could not find a way to stay alive. There are no local teams left in Class 6A, Class 5A, Class 4A, Class 3A, Class 2A or Class 1A.

Here are the headlines from the action in the second round:

* Palm Beach Gardens used big performances from quarterback JP Caruso and running back Tommy Monday to beat Palm Beach Central and advance to the regional finals. (Game Report) (Photos)

* Dwyer rolled over Pompano Beach-Ely behind 245 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior Alonzo Smith. (Game Report) (Photos)

* Cardinal Newman was eliminated in a close loss to Miami-Westminster Christian. (Game Report)

* You can find the rest of the recaps from the other second-round games in a full roundup, including Glades Day’s loss to Hialeah-Champagnat Catholic.

In addition to all of that coverage, we have a new and improved mobile PBGametime site, which you can check out on your phones at m.pbgametime.com.

Here are the local teams that are still alive in the FHSAA playoffs after the second round:


Dwyer (12-0):
Beat Pompano Beach-Ely 49-7.
Fort Pierce Central (10-1): Beat Bradenton-Manatee 17-15.
Palm Beach Gardens (8-4): Beat Palm Beach Central 45-28.

Can all three of these teams advance past the third round next week? Dwyer and Palm Beach Gardens will face two of Broward’s best in the regional finals. The Panthers will take on St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Gators will face Miramar. Both of those games should be fun to watch. Fort Pierce Central will have to get by Tampa-Plant to move on to the state semifinals. How many do you see advancing?

4 takeaways

1. How does Palm Beach Gardens keep doing it?
It’s simple … the Gators’ offense is playing great. Although the Gators were expected to lose to Park Vista and Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens has beaten both teams behind a pair of stellar offensive performances to advance to the regional finals. After an inconsistent regular season, quarterback JP Caruso has turned it on in the postseason. Over the first two rounds of the playoffs, he has thrown for 500 yards, 6 touchdowns and just one interception. And the running game has been good, too. Tommy Monday ran for 177 yards and two scores against the Broncos on Friday. But it seems like the Gators save their best play for the second half, as they have outscored their first two postseason opponents by a combined score of 42-14 over the final two quarters. But the offense will be tested against a stingy Miramar defense that has recorded five shutouts this year.

2. Will Dwyer lose?
We asked this question last week and we will keep asking it. This week, this is actually a relevant question. Without a doubt, the Panthers will face their toughest test of the season next week against Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas. This is the matchup many have been waiting for and it’s actually here. Dwyer hasn’t really been tested since its preseason loss to Miami-Central, as the Panthers turned in blowout after blowout in the regular season. But this week, we will see just how good Dwyer is.

3. Tommy McDonald and Travis Rudolph move on
One of the sad things about the playoffs is that high school football careers come to an end. On Friday, Palm Beach Central star Tommy McDonald and Cardinal Newman star Travis Rudolph saw their senior seasons come to a close. The Broncos running back was spectacular this year, leading Palm Beach County with 1,378 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. Game after game, McDonald led the Broncos to wins with his physical running style. And Rudolph was just as good, setting a new school record with 1,121 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches this year. He even intercepted a few passes on defense. These two players were a treat to watch throughout their high school careers.

4. Which local team has the best chance to win a state title?
Dwyer. This one is simple. The Panthers are the best team in the area and ended the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Class 7A poll in the Associated Press state football rankings. But it won’t be easy, as the Panthers will have to get by St. Thomas Aquinas just to make it to the state semifinals. But a win over the Raiders would be a big step in the right direction. Palm Beach Gardens will have a very tough time getting by Miramar next week. The Patriots are a machine that has outscored opponents 486-89 this season. And Fort Pierce Central has a very tough road ahead of them in the Class 8A playoffs starting with Plant next week and possibly Apopka in the state semifinals.

How’d Anthony do?

Anthony’s predictions record: 3-3.
Best pick: None. I was off on all of them. Even the three picks I got right, I was still two or three touchdowns from the actual score. This was not a good week for me.