High school football playoffs 2020: Local teams shine in Week 4 picks

Bartram Trail running back Eric Weatherly picks up yards in the third quarter against Oakleaf during a playoff game on November 20, 2020. (Ralph D. Priddy)
Bartram Trail running back Eric Weatherly picks up yards in the third quarter against Oakleaf during a playoff game on November 20, 2020. (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: 17-5. Season: 259-82 (.759).

Region 1-8A

Bartram Trail (9-1) at Spruce Creek (6-3): Bears tore through Oakleaf like Thanksgiving leftovers last week and Spruce Creek is dessert on the menu. Bartram routed Spruce Creek 42-0 last season and will cruise into December. N4J pick: Bartram Trail 38, Spruce Creek 14.

Seminole (8-0) at Sandalwood (8-2), 6 p.m.: May seem like a homer pick here, but Sandalwood defense is playing at another level. Of course, I picked Mandarin over Seminole last year and the Seminoles promptly dropped 59 on the Mustangs. Playing with house money here so I’ll roll the dice. N4J pick: Sandalwood 29, Seminole 27.

Region 1-7A

Atlantic Coast (5-5) at Fleming Island (8-2): Am I late to the party or what? Stingrays have won two in a row, both games I picked against them. What’s the saying, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it? N4J pick: Atlantic Coast 28, Fleming Island 22.

Region 1-6A

Pensacola Pace (5-3) at St. Augustine (8-2): Sticking with the Yellow Jackets to keep ending the seasons of Panhandle teams. N4J pick: St. Augustine 38, Pace 33.

Daytona Beach Mainland (8-1) at Columbia (4-5): Tigers have recovered exceptionally well since an 0-5 start, but I think the Bucs are too much in this one. N4J pick: Mainland 33, Columbia 27.

Region 1-5A

Ribault (3-6) at Tallahassee Rickards (6-1): Trojans struggled to find the end zone in the regular season. Now, touchdowns are falling like manna from heaven. N4J pick: Ribault 28, Rickards 20.

Baker County (9-2) at Pensacola Pine Forest (4-4): Wildcats survived a scare in double OT last week. Will a long road trip slow them down here? Of course not. N4J pick: Baker County 27, Pine Forest 21.

Region 2-5A

Clay (9-1) at Ocala Vanguard (7-1): Heck of a turnaround for the Blue Devils. Daunte Culpepper’s alma mater slows down the Al’querious Ray freight train this week. N4J pick: Vanguard 30, Clay 21.

Region 2-4A

Bolles (9-2) at South Sumter (5-4), 7:30 p.m.: Bulldogs get a tough defense, but roll on Frew the Raiders. N4J pick: Bolles 27, South Sumter 7.

Region 1-3A

Florida State University High (10-0) at Trinity Christian (9-1), 7:30 p.m.: Game of the week and one we knew was coming. First one to 20 wins. N4J pick: Trinity 21, Florida High 17.

Region 1-2A

University Christian (6-4) at Tallahassee North Florida Christian (6-2): These two teams always find themselves reunited around Thanksgiving. Always tough to play at NFC, but UC finds a way to move on. N4J pick: UC 28, NFC 24.

Region 3-1A

Madison County (9-2) at Union County (8-3): Like death and taxes and bad puns from sports journalists, Madison County playing for a state championship every year feels like a winter tradition. N4J pick: Madison County 38, Union County 21.

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