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Friday, December 2, 2011
Florida Football Playoff Primer

By Lucas O'Neill

Tonight kicks off the regional finals (8A-5A) and state semifinals (4A-1A), and there's no shortage of intriguing matchups. But for our money, these are the three best games on the docket this week:

1. Glades Central vs. Miami Norland
(Class 5A regional finals)
The Glades Central Raiders and Norland Vikings are not just two of the state's top teams (No. 6 and No. 3, respectively, in the latest Florida Weekly Rankings) — they're both rated among the nation's top 40 teams in the POWERADE FAB 50. GC features Gatorade Player of the Year William Likely, while Norland counters with Miami recruit Randy "Duke" Johnson. Mark Tennis and Doug Huff have more on this matchup.

2. Dwyer vs. St. Thomas Aquinas
(Class 7A regional finals)
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like Aquinas had taken a step back as a program. Rated the nation's No. 2 team early in the season, the Raiders lost a pair of contests to Miramar and upstart Cooper City. Rumors of the Raiders' demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, however, as Aquinas has rolled through the first two rounds of the Class 7A playoffs. Dwyer, meanwhile, has won 11 straight games after falling to Glades Central in the opener, and let's not forget that the Panthers have advanced to the state finals each of the last two seasons, winning it all in 2009.

3. Berkeley Prep vs. American Heritage-Delray
(Class 3A state semifinals)
Led by senior All-American Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep (12-0) has put together the best season in school history. But American Heritage-Delray, behind junior running back Greg Bryant, has steamrolled opponents since an early loss to Glades Central, including a 31-20 takedown of previously undefeated University School last week. Read more about the matchup from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Tampa Tribune.