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High school football 2020: A good night for area teams as playoff picks hit December

St. Augusutine linebacker Darrell Myers(3) brings down Pace quarterback Brandon Miller (18) for a loss in the third quarter of a Nov. 27 playoff game. (Ralph D. Priddy)
St. Augusutine linebacker Darrell Myers(3) brings down Pace quarterback Brandon Miller (18) for a loss in the third quarter of a Nov. 27 playoff game. (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 2A-4A.

Last week: 8-4. Season: 267-86 (.756).

Region 1-8A final

Bartram Trail (10-1) at Seminole (9-0), 7:30 p.m.: I picked Seminole to lose last week to Sandalwood by 2 and it won by 20. I picked Seminole to lose to Mandarin by 5 in 2019 and the Seminoles won by … 27. If history uses my picks as an indicator, Bartram is probably in store for a loss between 23 and 25 points. Can the Bears end that dubious streak for me? N4J pick: Bartram Trail 31, Seminole 28.

Region 1-7A final

Niceville (10-0) at Fleming Island (10-2), 7 p.m.: Perhaps my worst pick of the prediction season came last week as I called the Golden Eagles to fall to Atlantic Coast in a 6-point game. Mulligan, anyone? One 35-point margin of victory later, Fleming is still rolling along. Niceville’s defense is a far greater challenge for the Golden Eagles and their bevy of powerful backs to try and solve. N4J pick: Niceville 30, Fleming Island 20.

Region 1-6A final

St. Augustine (9-2) at Columbia (5-5), 7:30 p.m.: Probably a game that no one could have projected back in late September, or heck, even the start of the playoffs. St. Augustine has won 8 straight since a 1-2 start and the Tigers have forgotten even how to spell loss after an 0-5 start. Coaching staffs on both sides should be commended for holding things together through up and down seasons. Probably the best coaching job of Brian Allen’s career in Lake City. In a close one … N4J pick: St. Augustine 28, Columbia 24.

Region 1-5A final

Tallahassee Rickards (7-1) at Baker County (9-2), 7:30 p.m.: Conflicted on this one. Rickards defense has given up some points as of late, but the Raiders have been rock solid much of their shortened season. Wildcats have a number of options to go to for yardage. I like Baker County at home in a close one. N4J pick: Baker County 27, Rickards 21.

Class 4A state semifinal

Gadsden County (6-1) at Bolles (9-2), 7:30 p.m.: Gadsden County has a very good defense, but the Bulldogs won’t be denied in a return trip to the state championship game. Plus, this is Bolles’ only playoff game at home this season after 3 on the road. N4J pick: Bolles 27, Gadsden County 9.

Class 3A state semifinal

Trinity Christian (10-1) at Ocala Trinity Catholic (7-3), 7 p.m.: If last week’s regional final win over previously unbeaten Florida High was the de facto state championship game, then I feel pretty strong that the Conquerors handle things in Ocala this week to reach the official state championship game. That being said, these teams have played some good ones over the years. N4J pick: Trinity Christian 32, Trinity Catholic 20.

Class 2A state semifinal

Foundation Academy (9-1) University Christian (7-4), 7 p.m.: UC won this game on the road earlier in the season 35-0. Say that phrase again. UC fans have probably already booked rooms in Tallahassee. N4J pick: UC 28, Foundation Academy 7.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.