Week 4 high school football playoff picks: These teams are championship game bound

Orel Gray and University Christian are in the state semifinals on Friday. (Justin Barney, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school football season is back. That means our football predictions are back, too.

News4JAX sports editor Justin Barney will reveal his picks for the week each Thursday. All game times are 7 p.m. unless indicated. A glance at the state semifinal matchups here.

Last week: 5-2 (.714). Season: 308-98 (.759).

State semifinals

Friday, Dec. 2

Class 2M

(3) Bolles (9-4) at (2) American Heritage (12-1), 7:30 p.m.: I like the Bolles coaching staff in games like this. Matt Toblin faced Heritage in a championship game before and it was a classic. I’d like to pick an upset here but not sure I can. N4J pick: American Heritage 33, Bolles 23.

Class 1M

(3) Clearwater Central Catholic (11-1) at (2) University Christian (11-1): After that win last week, I don’t think there’s any way UC suffers a letdown game at home. Orel Gray and the Christians are bound for a showdown against Chaminade-Madonna next week. N4J pick: UC 30, Clearwater Central Catholic 26.

Class 3S

(4) Columbia (9-3) at (1) Lake Wales (13-0): This game shapes up to be a defensive slugfest. Highlanders haven’t faced the level of competition Columbia has this season. In an upset ... N4J pick: Columbia 17, Lake Wales 13.

Class 2S

(3) Cocoa (9-3) at (2) Bradford (12-1), 7:30 p.m.: Back and forth on this game. The Tigers have played a tough, tough schedule and only St. Thomas Aquinas has managed to bottle them up to some degree. I picked Bradford on our V4RSITY podcast although I don’t have as good of a feeling in this one as I do the others. N4J pick: Bradford 21, Cocoa 20.

Class 1R

(3) Union County (8-2) at (2) Northview (12-0), 8 p.m.: Another game where I think the quality of competition means something. Tigers set up a championship showdown with Hawthorne. N4J pick: Union County 28, Northview 21.

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.