The Drive To December starts Thursday night with one playoff game in Class 8A. Here is a preview of some of the top games to watch with predictions for all 16 games in the Class 8A Regional Quarterfinals.

All game scheduled for Friday, November 9 with a 7:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff unless noted.



8A-REGION 1: No. 8 West Orange (7-3) at No. 1 Wekiva: A regular season rematch between these two District 8A-4 foes, forget the seed numbers with this matchup. West Orange, which is back in the playoffs after finishing second in the district last season but missing out due to points, will be looking to make it two-for-two on the season here after the visiting Warriors defeated the host Mustangs 21-20 in Week 6 which set up a three-way tiebreaker for the district championships. Nemea Hall is the ball carrier to watch for the Warriors but expect quarterback Elijah Stimmell to be passing the ball often as well giving them a balanced attack. Wekiva however, since giving up 21 to West Orange has not allowed an offensive score since and has been very aggressive on defense which includes several Division I prospects. Defensive lineman Trevor Barfield (14 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks) and Tyler Davis (34 tackles, 14 TFL, 6 sacks) will be the ones to keep an eye on defense while keeping an eye on running back Supreme Richardson (838 rushing, 10 TDs) to help handle things on offense.

Prediction: Wekiva 27, West Orange 23

8A-REGION 2: No. 5 Centennial (7-2) at No. 5 Dr. Phillips (5-5): What a season it has been for Centennial propelling them into the playoffs for the first time since 2011, while Dr. Phillips is looking to stave off every opponent in hopes of trying to put together a potential run in defending their state championship. However, if looking at the schedules of both, Centennial was competitive in most of their games this season including District 8A-8 foe Vero Beach while Dr. Phillips was nowhere near competitive against its toughest part of the schedule including getting shut out by Mainland and Wekiva along the way. For the visiting Eagles, keep an eye on quarterback Blayne Watkins (95-170, 1,380 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs) with Cedrick Wilcox IV (124 carries, 863 yards, 10 TDs) to help lead the offensive attack while the defense has multiple quality athletes to keep the host Panthers honest. Speaking of the Panthers, keep an eye on Stephen Dix who has been the best player overall for the team this season.

Prediction: Centennial 21, Dr. Phillips 17

8A-REGION 3: No. 7 Western (8-2) at No. 2 Delray Atlantic (10-0): It has been a great season for both teams with Western just missing out on the District 8A-12 championship in a three-way tiebreaker, while Atlantic went undefeated, which is actually better than last year’s record on their run to Orlando where the finished as the Class 8A State Runner-up. For the host Wildcats, this is another chance for them to prove they belong here once again after making their longest run in school history last season where the fell in the regional finals to this very Atlantic program. However, with this rematch of last year’s contest coming in the regional quarterfinals this year, it is going to take a lot to start another impressive run given Atlantic’s improvement. For the visiting Wildcats keep an eye on gunslinger quarterback Jesse Rivera (126-190, 1,874 yards passing, 20 TDs, 3 INTs) who has been their Mr. Everything on offense while on defense keep an eye on linebacker Angel Cepero (103 tackles, 11 TFL, 2.5 sacks) who is one of the leaders of the defense. For the host Eagles, keep an eye on senior quarterback Kelani Illimaleota who has already thrown for over 1,300 yards while Montahj Joseph, the leading rusher, will help keep things balanced.

Prediction: Atlantic 35, Western 21


Region 1

No. 5 Apopka (7-3) at No. 4 Oviedo (8-2): Don’t let the records fool you here. Blue Darters are much more battled tested for this matchup. Prediction: Apopka 28, Oviedo 21

No. 6 DeLand (8-2) at No. 3 Mandarin (6-4): A rematch of District 8A-1 teams here – Mandarin won back in Week 4, 24-21 – but injury concerns for DeLand could come into play here. Prediction: Mandarin 21, DeLand 20

No. 7 Flagler Palm Coast (7-3) at No. 2 Winter Park (9-1): Great season for both teams and both have been tested, but Winter Park edges things out here with talent. Prediction: Winter Park 35, Flagler Palm Coast 24

Region 2

No. 8 Gateway (5-5) at No. 1 Vero Beach (10-0): Too many differences here for this game to be close. Could be one of the few runaway games we see around the state in the regional quarterfinals. Prediction: Vero Beach 45, Gateway 14

No. 6 Treasure Coast (7-3) at No. 3 Sarasota Riverview (7-3): A lot of things could happen in this one. A barnburner is very much in the cards for this matchup. Prediction: Treasure Coast 38, Riverview 31.

No. 7 Manatee (6-4) at No. 2 Kissimmee Osceola (9-1): If Manatee were a stronger team, this would game would be in the three best section to watch. Osceola is just more with it with things right now coming into this one. Prediction: Osceola 27, Manatee 14

Region 3

No. 8 Miramar (6-4) at No. 1 Deerfield Beach (9-1): Miramar was a one-seed last year and just luckily got in as the eight-seed. However, this contest will unlikely not be close at all in terms of the talent level between the two. Prediction: Deerfield Beach 34, Miramar 13

No. 5 Piper (6-4) at No. 4 Plantation (9-1): Piper has played an incredible schedule this year and has shown much improvement, but year two of Steve Davis back at Plantation, shows why the Colonels will be hard to stop. Prediction: Plantation 35, Piper 14

No. 6 Wellington (6-4) at No. 3 Palm Beach Central (9-1): The best Palm Beach Central team in school history has already bested the visiting Wolverines once in blowout fashion in a District 8A-9 contest. This could be headed for the same result: Prediction: Palm Beach Central 40, Wellington 14

Region 4

No. 8 Coral Gables (6-4) at No. 1 Columbus (10-0) at Tropical Park: Throw the record out as these teams meet for the second time in three weeks. The Week 10 meeting was a close matchup and expect this one to be close again. Prediction: Columbus 28, Coral Gables 17

No. 5 Miami Palmetto (9-1) at No. 4 Belen Jesuit (8-2), at Tropical Park, Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET: Line the schedules up and you will see some contrasting differences between the two teams. That is why it is very likely the five-seed here is going to advance thanks to that – and talent. Prediction: Miami Palmetto 35, Belen Jesuit 20

No. 6 South Dade (8-2) at No. 3 Hialeah (9-1) at Milander: Great improvement this season by Hialeah, but another situation of line up the schedules between both teams and it is clear who has been more battle tested this season. Prediction: South Dade 28, Hialeah 21

No. 7 North Miami (6-4) at No. 2 Miami Southridge (8-2) at Southridge Stadium: North Miami also managed to get in over a couple of other teams thanks to their schedule, but really this game will be night and day in terms of the talent level and scheduled play. Prediction: Miami Southridge 30, North Miami 14