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PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Class 3A seeks new state champion for the first time in five years

Chaminade-Madonna hosts Delray American Heritage to open the playoffs. (PHOTO CREDIT: @nadeboyz)

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A new state champion will be crowned in Class 3A this year, but who will it be? There are 16 teams vying to get to Orlando, but only two will make it. Here are our previews and predictions for the Class 3A Regional Semifinals.




When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Warden Stadium, Orlando
Records: Melbourne Central Catholic, 6-3; The First Academy, 9-0
Rankings: Melbourne Central Catholic tied for No. 4 in final AP Poll, ranked No. 5 in Joe Pinkos’ Power Rankings; The First Academy tied for No. 4 in final AP Poll, unranked in Joe Pinkos’ Power Rankings
Last Playoff Appearance: Melbourne Central Catholic: 2016; The First Academy: 2016
Quick Hits:
This is one game where the seeding and the records will not even matter … The visiting Hustlers are coming into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak and has played one of the toughest schedules of any team in Class 3A-Region 2 … For the Hustlers keep an eye on senior quarterback Joaquin Collazo who will be leading the offense through the air … For The First Academy keep an eye on expect the Royals to rely on the ground game to get points against a very strong Hustler defense.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Melbourne Central Catholic by 6 Prediction: Melbourne Central Catholic 30, The First Academy 13



When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Marauder Stadium, Clearwater
Records: Tampa Catholic, 7-2, Clearwater Central Catholic, 9-0
Rankings: Tampa Catholic unranked in final AP Poll, unranked in Joe Pinkos’ Power Rankings; Clearwater Central Catholic ranked No.3 in final AP Poll, ranked No. 3 in Joe Pinkos’ Power Rankings
Last Playoff Appearance: Tampa Catholic: 2016; Clearwater Central Catholic: 2016
Quick Hits:
Here is another game where you can throw out the records and the seeding, as this is a rematch of two heated rivals located on opposite sides of Tampa Bay … the host Marauders won the regular season meeting back on September 8, shutting out the visiting Crusaders, 25-0 … For Tampa Catholic keep an eye on junior quarterback Charlie Dean who has thrown for 1,430 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games so far… for the Marauders watch out for junior quarterback Rory Hicks to lead the way through the air while sophomore running back Johnny Newton will help keeps things balanced on the ground.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Clearwater Central Catholic by 21 Prediction: Clearwater Central Catholic 30, Tampa Catholic 10



When: Friday, 3:00 p.m.
Where: The Lion’s Den, Hollywood
Records: American Heritage, 5-4; Chaminade-Madonna, 7-2
Rankings: American Heritage unranked in final AP Poll, unranked in Joe Pinkos’ Power Rankings
Last Playoff Appearance: American Heritage: 2015; Chaminade-Madonna: 2016
Quick Hits:
The visiting Stallions are back in the playoffs after missing out last season … Chaminade-Madonna has been a favorite to win the Class 3A state championship this year prior to the season starting … Stallions will be looking for the first playoff win since 2015 while the Lions look to dominate against a team that some still believe is in the process of rebuilding despite playing a tough schedule this year.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Chaminade-Madonna by 35 Prediction:
Chaminade-Madonna 42, American Heritage 20


Region 1
No. 4 Newberry (3-6) at No. 1 Taylor County (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Dorsett Stadium, Perry — This one is going to be a hard for the visiting Panthers who lost the regular season meeting between the two a few weeks ago by a score of 46-15. However, we have seen crazy things happen in the playoffs, but we feel Taylor County is the better team here.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Taylor County by 26 Prediction:
Taylor County 38, Newberry 14

No. 3 Florida High (5-5) at No. 2 Fort White (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium, Fort White — These two teams have met in prior years in the postseason, but Fort White has shown their schedule was no fluke this year and has prepared to make a postseason run. It will be a quick exit for the visiting Seminoles against the host Indians.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Fort White by 16 Prediction:
Fort White 35, Florida High 10

Region 2
No. 3 King’s Academy (7-1) at No. 2 Oxbridge Academy (7-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at William H. Pitt Stadium, West Palm Beach —
The matchup looks nice on paper, but there is a mismatch here as King’s Academy’s schedule is not the strongest it could have been compared to the schedule Oxbridge Academy has played.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Oxbridge Academy by 24 Prediction:
Oxbridge Academy 45, King’s Academy 13

Region 3
No. 3 Clearwater Calvary Christian (6-2) at No. 2 Lakeland Christian (8-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Viking Stadium, Lakeland — It has been a solid season for the visiting Warriors and has faced some solid competition, but the host Vikings are just a bit ahead in terms of knowing what to do in the playoffs.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Calvary Christian by 3 Prediction:
Lakeland Christian 24, Calvary Christian 20

Region 4
No. 3 Everglades Prep (5-4) at Benjamin (7-2), Friday, 7:00 p.m. at Benjamin Field, North Palm Beach — First playoff appearance for Everglades Prep and the first playoff appearance for Benjamin since 2007. This should be a competitive matchup, but Benjamin appears to be more prepared to advance to the next round.
Joe Pinkos’ Forecast: Benjamin by 14 Prediction:
Benjamin 27, Everglades Prep 13


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