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Andre Fernandez: High school football heavyweights set to clash

5. N’WESTERN vs.


7 p.m., Saturday, Sun Life Stadium.

The long-anticipated matchup finally comes to fruition when these two storied programs meet for the first time.

Now, will it live up to the hype?

Aquinas is still one of the nation’s best entering the game ranked in the top 15 nationally.

Northwestern returned to the playoffs last season but is already hearing the doubts following a 10-7 exhibition loss to Palm Beach Central.

The Bulls offense has struggled to find rhythm in an exhibition win in Cocoa in the spring and last week’s loss.

Northwestern does bring back a tough defensive unit led by Mike Smith that is still one of the best in South Florida. But against an Aquinas offensive line that is one of the best in the nation, the Bulls have to find a way to disrupt Aquinas’ offense.

New Aquinas quarterback Wade Freebeck threw a pair of touchdown passes against Dillard and looks to be gaining confidence leading the Raiders offense.

Freebeck is developing good chemistry with receivers Corey Holmes and Devante Peete and with plenty of support both from them, his line and a talented backfield led by Mardre London, the Raiders should eventually establish an advantage.

Northwestern will have plenty of its fans backing it up at Sun Life Stadium, and its defense needs to keep it in the game.

But the Raiders have too much size and depth not to win this one.

•  Andre’s Pick: St. Thomas Aquinas 21, Northwestern 7.



7 p.m., Friday.

Plantation didn’t get things going until the second half of its game against Columbus. And that’s when the Colonels picked up a solid win behind its talented group of running backs.

Dillard hung tough with St. Thomas Aquinas before giving up a couple of big plays in a 21-10 loss.

Both teams should make a run at the playoffs this coming season.

But Dillard is one of the more improved squads in Broward County and looking like a serious contender for the District 15-6A title.

Dillard made strides last season making the playoffs and nearly defeating Norland. The Panthers continue to show their improvement this week.

•  Andre’s Pick: Dillard 17, Plantation 14.



7 p.m., Friday.

Boyd Anderson graduated several key players following its turnaround season last year where it advanced to the Class 7A regional finals.

Last week, the Cobras showed they still have some things to work on in a preseason loss to Miami Carol City in which two late touchdowns settled the outcome.

Homestead is a team similar to Carol City, plays in the same district, and features the No. 1 wide receiver in the country in Ermon Lane.

The Broncos had moments where they played tough with defending Class 3A state champion University School.

The Cobras will need a superior effort from its defense that is led by talented defensive back Derrick Tindal.

Lane, however, has help this season in the receiving corps. Gilbert Johnson is one of several receivers that should take some of the pressure off. Homestead needs to be able to run the football, however, and give its offense some balance.

Boyd Anderson has a solid group of linebackers and has the home field advantage in the first week in a season in which it hopes to prove it can still contend for a deep playoff push.

This one’s a pick ’em, but I’m going with the home team.

•  Andre’s pick: Boyd Anderson 21, Homestead 20.

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