Class 6A state final
Who: Miami Central (12-1) vs Armwood (14-0)
When/where: 1:07 p.m. Saturday; Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Admission/parking: $12; $10
Road to finals: Miami Central d. Boynton Beach 55-37, Fort Lauderdale Dillard 59-14, Palm Bay Heritage 54-3, Daytona Beach Mainland 28-15; Armwood d. Venice 31-19, Jefferson 52-48, Springstead 41-0, Bartram Trail 35-28 (3 OT)
Scouting Miami Central: The Rockets are a consensus top-10 team nationally. Their only loss came to another national power, Miami Washington. According to Rivals, the Rockets have eight seniors who have committed to Division I colleges, including one of the country’s top running backs, Dalvin Cook (Florida). Tavius Brown (796 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) and four-star junior Da’VAnte Phillips (UF commit) form a talented receiving duo. No wonder Miami Central racked up more than 5,000 total yards during the regular season. Its defense is no slouch either, allowing only 15.5 points per game.
Key matchup: Noah Johnson vs. Miami Central’s defense. If you had to pick one player for Armwood’s success this season, it’s Johnson, who has dazzled in the postseason (six passing touchdowns, six rushing scores). But the dual-threat junior hasn’t faced a defense like the Rockets’, who are giving up fewer than 200 yards of offense per game. Defensive tackle Fred Jones is committed to Florida State, and defensive back Deatrick Nichols has committed to USF. If the Hawks can upset Miami Central, Johnson will have to echo his heroics from last week, when he ran for the winning touchdown in triple overtime.
Quotable: “When you go through the playoffs and you win and you win, you’re gonna come to somebody that’s gonna be really that good. That’s what’s gonna happen for us this week here.” — Hawks coach Sean Callahan
Matt Baker’s pick: Armwood’s trip to Orlando comes a year too early for a young group against a team that’s too strong. The loaded Rockets will get revenge from 2011. Miami Central, 35-24
Kelly Parsons’ pick: Armwood’s youth will be taken advantage of by a group of experienced Rockets hungry for their second straight state title. Miami Central, 41-31