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High school football playoff picks: Area field cut in half after Week 1

Bartram running back Eric Weatherly, center, runs from Nease defensive backs Jordan Wilhite, left, and Creed McClafferty, Friday October 16, 2020. (Ralph D Priddy, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school football is now in the state playoffs and our weekly predictions will cover each of those. News4Jax sports editor Justin Barney reveals his weekly high school football picks every week. All games at 7:30 p.m. unless indicated.

Last week: 20-5. Season: 264-96 (.733).

Region 1-8A

2. Bartram Trail (8-2) vs. 7. Lake Brantley (6-4): Bears are always in the playoffs and don’t tend to lose first-round games. N4J pick: Bartram Trail 34, Lake Brantley 14.

3. Apopka (8-2) vs. 6. Creekside (8-2): Blue Darters are so very tough. Best season in Knights’ history faces an uphill climb here. N4J pick: Apopka 31, Creekside 24.

Region 1-7A

1. Gainesville Buchholz (9-1) vs. 8 Fleming Island (6-4), Thursday, 7 p.m.: Buchholz could very well play for a state title. N4J pick: Buchholz 34, Fleming Island 13.

4. Fletcher (5-5) vs. 5. Orange City University (6-2), 6:30 p.m.: Can the Senators put together enough offense to win this one? N4J pick: University 22, Fletcher 20.

2. Spruce Creek (8-1) vs. 7. Nease (7-3): What a season for the Panthers. Tough opponent here. N4J pick: Spruce Creek 28, Nease 20.

3. Niceville (9-1) vs. 6. Atlantic Coast (6-4): The Stingrays have been very good this season and play better than their record. Panhandle trips are so tough for area teams. N4J pick: Niceville 35, Atlantic Coast 21.

Region 1-6A

4. Columbia (6-4) vs. 5. Riverside (9-1): Generals have to fix what went wrong in the fourth quarter of their regular season meeting with the Tigers. N4J pick: Riverside 32, Columbia 27.

Region 1-5A

1. Baker County (8-2) vs. 8. White (5-4): Wildcats won by 20 in the regular season meeting. It will be closer this time. N4J pick: Baker County 28, White 20.

2. Raines (7-2) vs. 7. Parker (7-3), 6:30 p.m.: All defense here, but I do think the Vikings are just hitting their peak. N4J pick: Raines 21, Parker 13.

3. Wakulla (8-2) vs. 6. Bishop Kenny (7-2): Crusaders with the playoff upset here. N4J pick: Kenny 24, Wakulla 20.

Region 1-4A

4. Baldwin (6-3) vs. 5. Marianna (5-5), 6:30 p.m.: Indians start their playoff quest out strong. N4J pick: Baldwin 27, Marianna 22.

3. Jackson (7-3) vs. 6. Gadsden County (2-6), 6:30 p.m.: The record is deceptive, but this is an extremely difficult opener for the Tigers. Gadsden County plays a very challenging schedule. N4J pick: Jackson 21, Gadsden County 20.

Region 2-4A

3. Keystone Heights (9-1) vs. Umatilla (6-4): Indians reach the 10th win of the season a week later than they’d planned. N4J pick: Keystone 23, Umatilla 20.

Region 1-3A

4. Gainesville P.K. Yonge (7-3) vs. Crescent City (7-3): Tough opener for the Raiders. N4J pick: P.K. Yonge 34, Crescent City 20.

3. Florida State University High (8-1) vs. 6. Episcopal (6-4): Eagles get a state title contender in their opening game. N4J pick: Florida High 42, Episcopal 14.

Region 1-2A

3. University Christian (6-4) vs. 6. Rocky Bayou Christian (6-3): UC didn’t expect to be playing in this one. N4J pick: UC 35, Rocky Bayou 12.

Region 3-1A

4. Lafayette (7-3) vs. 5. Fort White (5-4): Indians fall in a close one. N4J pick: Lafayette 23, Fort White 20.

3. Union County (10-0) vs. 6. Trenton (4-5): Make that 11 Ws for the Tigers. N4J pick: Union County 30, Trenton 20.

Region 4-1A

3. Bradford (5-5) vs. 6. Newberry (5-5): I like the Tornadoes to go a few rounds deep. N4J pick: Bradford 33, Newberry 28.

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.