Week 8 football predictions
The high school football action in Week 8 is headlined by a district matchup between the top two ranked teams in Class 5A, American Heritage at Cardinal Gibbons. Wells Dusenbury and David Furones are picking the clash between the Patriots and Chiefs, plus nine more prime games in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Furones is 37-13 on the year while Duse is a game back in the standings at 36-14. All games are today at 7 p.m. unless noted.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (4-0) AT CARDINAL GIBBONS (5-0)
Duse: Gibbons 13, Heritage 10 Cardinal Gibbons has been waiting for this moment all summer long. After a tough 10-7 playoff loss to the Patriots, the Chiefs are a much more veteran and talented group, especially on defense where they’ve allowed just 12 points all season. Gibbons QB Nik Scalzo admitted to being nervous last year versus Heritage, but he [and the rest of the team] aren’t anymore. Heritage is without a doubt one of the top teams in the country and the defense is ferocious, but I think Gibbons makes just enough plays to pull off the win. DF: Heritage 24, Gibbons 20 Chiefs quarterback Nik Scalzo saw this stellar defense twice as a sophomore and will come in more poised. Route combinations out of Gibbons’ complex Air-Raid offense could free up receivers and, to an extent, mitigate how effective Patriots five-star cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Tyson Campbell can be in the press man coverage they specialize in. These factors will keep it close, but Heritage, the nation’s fourth-ranked team (MaxPreps, USA Today), will stop the run better than any previous Chiefs opponent, and quarterback Cam Smith, running back Miles Jones and receiver Anthony Schwartz make enough plays on offense.
WESTERN (6-0) AT PLANTATION (5-1)
Duse: Western 21, Plantation 17 “They’ll tell the [Harrison] story of tonight.” Sorry, had to throw some Hamilton in there. Western QB Harrison Story has been a major key for the Wildcats’ revival, throwing eight TD passes to just one INT, while also rushing for three more scores. Backfield mate Keshaun Clarke (589 yards rushing, 10 TDs) will help keep Western unbeaten. DF: Western 23, Plantation 19 The Colonels have made great strides in coach Steve Davis’ return, but I think they’re still a year away from getting to Miramar and Western in District 12-8A. The Wildcats will stack the box against Plantation’s Wing-T, and safety Robie Ruebel will have a Troy Polamalu-type impact, making plays at different levels whether in the backfield or sticking with tight end Robzel Sylvester on the occasional surprise deep ball. Look out for QB Harrison Story finding Jordan Smith and Keshaun Clarke providing balance with the running game.
PALM BEACH CENTRAL (3-2) AT SEMINOLE RIDGE (6-0)
Duse: Central 17, Ridge 14 Rivalry showdown at Seminole Ridge as the Hawks all but secure the district title with a win. Palm Beach Central has played a very tough schedule and is better than the record indicates. Akeem Dent and Tre Jackson have been sensational in the secondary and should limit Ridge’s big-play ability. DF: Central 24, Ridge 23 The Hawks come in 3-0 in games settled by 4 points or fewer, but this is the matchup where it catches up to them. Quarterback Nick Atkins can find receivers Bryan Robinson and Fornoris Roberts. The Broncos will keep Ridge’s strong ground game somewhat in check, and it helps to have Akeem Dent, the nation’s top-ranked 2019 cornerback, on the back end. They get a key district win.
PALM BEACH LAKES (2-4) AT OLYMPIC HEIGHTS (3-2)
Duse: Heights 20, Lakes 14 The Lions missed out on a playoff spot last year after falling to Lakes in the district finale and they haven’t forgotten that. While the Rams’ defense has been strong this year, the offense has struggled to put up points. I think Olympic Heights RB Reis Clark is the difference-maker as the Lions take one step closer to the district title. DF: Lakes 17, Heights 13 How could I after Duse’s riveting piece on the Lions and coach Baz Alfred? I just see the Rams as better than their record indicates, having played Dwyer, Ridge and Pahokee tight. That defense comes out hungry for this one. Colorado State commit Teja Young leaves his footprint on this one.
NOVA AT COOPER CITY (2-3)
Duse: Titans have been red-hot this season, winning four of their five games by double digits. Nova 31-27.
DF: The Cowboys come in hot after downing South Broward, but the Shaun Peterson Show will be tough to stop. Nova 24-21.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (2-4) AT BOYD ANDERSON (2-3)
Duse: McCarthy’s battled against a tough schedule and I think it pays dividends here. McCarthy 14-9.
DF: I like both defenses to have a strong showing but expect Mavericks RB Jacob Baptiste to get loose a couple of times to make the difference. McCarthy 16-12.
COCONUT CREEK (3-1) AT BLANCHE ELY (2-3), SATURDAY 7 P.M.
Duse: Cougars’ defense has been strong and should carry them to win No. 4. Creek 17-14.
DF: I like Creek coach Gerald Cox’s rebound thus far in his second season, but after taking it on the chin against Chaminade-Madonna and Miami Central, the Tigers come out with a different motivation. Ely 23-17.
DWYER (4-2) AT FOREST HILL (5-0)
Duse: Biggest game in school history for the unbeaten Falcons, but Dwyer’s looks to have turned it around after its upset loss to Heights. Dwyer 28-20.
DF: The Falcons have been a great story with this start, but Dwyer will approach the remainder of the season with a killer instinct after loss to Heights. Dwyer 27-17.
FORT PIERCE WESTWOOD (4-1) AT SUNCOAST (4-2)
Duse: Suncoast dual-threat QB Ryan Lantz has been great this season and I think Chargers clinch their third consecutive district title. Suncoast 21-17.
DF: Chargers, coming in hot winners of four straight, clinch District 15-5A on the night they honor Devin Hester. There may even be a key special teams return in his honor. Suncoast 24-20.
JUPITER (0-5) AT WELLINGTON (2-4)
Duse: Wellington’s down to its third-string QB. Does Jupiter finally snap its 31-game losing skid? Not this week. Wellington 20-14.
DF: A chance for the Warriors to end the drought. Not ready to call it just yet. Wellington 21-16.