High school football playoffs 2020: Picks are in as postseason begins

Creekside running back Preston Strope barrels through Ponte Vedra defenders during a Week 10 game. The Knights travel to face Gainesville Buchholz in the playoff opener on Friday. (Ralph D. Priddy)
Creekside running back Preston Strope barrels through Ponte Vedra defenders during a Week 10 game. The Knights travel to face Gainesville Buchholz in the playoff opener on Friday. (Ralph D. Priddy) (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school football season has entered the final stretch and so have our weekly predictions.

News4Jax sports editor Justin Barney reveals his weekly high school football picks each Thursday. All games are Friday at 7:30 p.m. unless indicated. Here are glances for this week’s games in Classes 5A-8A and 1A-4A.

Last week: 22-6. Season: 214-72 (.748).

Region 1-8A, Play-in game, Round 1

Oakleaf (6-3) d. Nease (1-7), by forfeit. Nease was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns

Mandarin (3-5) at Sandalwood (6-2), Monday, 6 p.m.: The second meeting of the season between these teams. Saints have got to show a bit more offensive punch than they did before. N4J pick: Sandalwood 23, Mandarin 21.

Byes: Bartram Trail, Flagler Palm Coast, Oakleaf.

Region 1-7A, Play-in game, Round 1

Creekside (5-3) at Gainesville Buchholz (6-1): The Bobcats won this game two weeks ago by 22 and have won six straight since a Week 2 loss to Oakleaf. Tough opener for the Knights. N4J pick: Buchholz 35, Creekside 28.

First Coast (3-3) at Tallahassee Lincoln (5-1): Challenging road trip opener for the Buccaneers. N4J pick: Lincoln 30, First Coast 14.

Fletcher (6-1) at Atlantic Coast (3-5), 7 p.m.: Senators have been very good this season and already have a 10-point win over the Stingrays under their belts. N4J pick: Fletcher 31, Atlantic Coast 20.

Tate (1-5) at Fleming Island (6-2): No problem here for the Golden Eagles. N4J pick: Fleming 28, Tate 13.

Region 1-6A, Play-in game, Round 2

Fort Walton Beach (2-4) at Lee (5-1), 7 p.m.: Generals have played fewer games than most in the area, but that won’t matter here. N4J pick: Lee 31, Tate 14.

Mosley (4-3) at St. Augustine (6-2): Yellow Jackets have won five straight and it’s a long ride over for the Dolphins. N4J pick: St. Augustine 28, Mosley 21.

New Smyrna Beach (3-4) at Matanzas (5-3): Pirates notch their first-ever playoff win, and score, too. N4J pick: Matanzas 19, New Smyrna Beach 14.

Pensacola Escambia (7-0) at Middleburg (0-9), 6 p.m.: In what year other than 2020 would a matchup like this happen? N4J pick: Escambia 43, Middleburg 0.

Ponte Vedra (5-4) at Columbia (2-5): Tigers win their third consecutive game. N4J pick: Columbia 35, Ponte Vedra 13.

Region 1-5A, Play-in game, Round 2

Arnold (2-4) at Baker County (7-2), canceled due to COVID-19, Baker County wins by forfeit

Raines (3-6) at Westside (5-3), 7 p.m.: Good matchup here. Raines is playing better than its record suggests. N4J pick: Raines 26, Westside 20.

Ribault (1-6) at Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee (0-7), 8:30 p.m.: Long drive for a win but the Trojans glad to do it. N4J pick: Ribault 27, Choctaw 19.

Suwannee (7-2) at Parker (2-5): Bulldogs are on a roll. N4J pick: Suwannee 39, Parker 13.

Tallahassee Godby (3-3) at Paxon (3-4), 6 p.m.: Golden Eagles' first-ever playoff game is against a tough opponent. N4J pick: Godby 35, Paxon 6.

Tallahassee Rickards (4-1) at White (5-4), 7 p.m.: How many yards will Jaison Patterson run for this week? Over or under 200? N4J pick: Rickards 27, White 20.

Bye: Baker County.

Region 2-5A, Play-in game, Round 2

Citrus (1-6) at Orange Park (3-5): Not a surprise if the locals here run this region. N4J pick: Orange Park 24, Citrus 20.

Mount Dora (1-6) at Menendez (3-5): Falcons have a real shot at playing on for a couple weeks. N4J pick: Menendez 21, Mount Dora 14.

Leesburg (0-6) at Clay (7-1): Won’t be pretty here. Al’querious Ray may run for a mile in this one. N4J pick: Clay 38, Leesburg 0.

Tavares (3-4) at Ridgeview (6-3): Panthers were 1-9 last year and now they’re heading to the second round of the playoffs. N4J pick: Ridgeview 33, Tavares 28.

Region 2-4A, Regional quarterfinals

Keystone Heights (6-2) at Bradford (4-5): Good opener and one that should go the Tornadoes' way. N4J pick: Bradford 27, Keystone Heights 14.

Bolles (6-2) at Villages Charter (6-0): First step in march to a state title game berth starts here. N4J pick: Bolles 33, Villages 13.

South Sumter (3-4) at Palatka (1-9): Panthers have had a tough season but a win here could help turn things around. N4J pick: South Sumter 35, Palatka 13.

West Nassau (4-6) at Fernandina Beach (6-3): Excellent county clash and a rematch of a game won in OT by the Pirates this season. N4J pick: West Nassau 35, Fernandina Beach 33.

Region 1-3A, Regional quarterfinals

Episcopal (5-2) at Interlachen (5-4), 7 p.m.: Eagles cruising toward a match with Trinity next week. N4J pick: Episcopal 34, Interlachen 14.

Florida State University High (7-0) at Jackson (4-4), 7 p.m.: Brutal opener for the Tigers. N4J pick: Florida High 42, Jackson 0.

Trinity Christian (7-1) at Baldwin (8-0), 7 p.m.: Great local matchup, but the Trinity defense is likely too much for the Indians. N4J pick: Trinity 28, Baldwin 7.

Region 1-2A, Regional quarterfinals

Aucilla Christian (6-2) at University Christian (4-4): The Christians have taken apart 2A competition all season. N4J pick: UC 41, Aucilla 13.

Rocky Bayou Christian (3-5) at North Florida Educational (1-6): First playoff trip for NFEI and a first win, too. N4J pick: NFEI 27, Rocky Bayou 20.

Victory Christian (5-4) at St. Joseph (1-7): Victory is always a threat to reach the state semis. Difficult assignment for the Flashes. N4J pick: Victory Christian 35, St. Joseph 6.

Region 3-1A, Regional quarterfinals

Fort White (1-6) at Branford (6-1): Indians won their opener last week, but a tough one here. N4J pick: Branford 27, Fort White 7.

Bell (2-6) at Union County (6-3): Tigers have a good path to a potential showdown with Madison County. N4J pick: Union County 30, Bell 19.

Lafayette (5-4) at Hilliard (7-0): Red Flashes stay perfect. N4J pick: Hilliard 20, Lafayette 18.

Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoffs

Class A

Bishop Snyder (4-5) at Eagle’s View (7-2): Excellent matchup between local teams. N4J pick: Eagle’s View 26, Snyder 20.

Cedar Creek Christian (4-5) at Out-of-Door Academy (1-4): Saints are battle tested. N4J pick: Cedar Creek 27, Out-of-Door 6.

About the Author: