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Florida high school football preview: Cardinal Gibbons at Plantation American Heritage
By Andy Villamarzo,
PLANTATION, FLORIDA- In what was a very competitive matchup twice last season renews again tonight down in Broward County.
Plantation American Heritage (2-1) will host Cardinal Gibbons (3-1), which is essentially for all intents and purposes, is for the Class 2M, District 12 championship.
The two teams played each other somewhat tight a year ago, and odds are this could come down to who can generate just enough offense. American Heritage’s offense featured a load of stars in 2022, but the Patriots are younger this fall.
Mike Smith’s bunch is still just as talented and potentially as potent.
Leading the way on offense is the play of sophomore quarterback Dia Bell, son of former NBA’er Raja Bell. The younger Bell has entered the high school football scene and blowing up at quarterback position.
The super sophomore has completed 44-of-70 passes for 527 yards, four touchdowns to three interceptions and also rushing for an additional 42. Bell is joined in the backfield by talented junior running back Byron Louis, who has rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns.
Out at wide receiver is Miami (FL) commitment Malachi Toney, who leads the team with 12 catches for 176 yards and three scores. Another receiver to watch out for is sophomore Brandon Bennett, with the underclassman catching eight passes for 153 yards.
On defense, arguably the team’s top player has been outside linebacker Omar Thornton, who has compiled a team-high 26 tackles, two sacks and one interception.
Flipping over to the Cardinal Gibbons side of things, the Chiefs have been looking to pick up their play since losing to Chaminade-Madonna 41-4 a few weeks ago. Cardinal Gibbons bounced back with wins over Dillard and Northeast since then.
North Carolina commitment Michael Merdinger has played well for head coach Matt DeBuc, throwing for 793 yards and nine touchdowns. Five receivers have over 100 yards this season, with Jalen Young leading the way at 133, three touchdowns.
Sophomore outside linebacker Jaiden Roper leads the defense with a team-high 26 tackles. Defensive end Christopher Williams is second on the team with 23 take downs.
ANDY’S PREDICTION: Plantation American Heritage 32, Cardinal Gibbons 20