Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (12-1) at Manatee (11-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the radio: 930-AM WLSS
On TV: Bright House Sports Network
The scoop: Dwyer has won 12 straight since a season-opening loss to Class 5A-Region 4 finalist Belle Glade Glades Central. ... Panthers QB Faton Bauta (6-foot-3, 223 pounds) is a Georgia commit who leads the team in rushing (611 yards) and has thrown for 1,343 yards and 17 TDs. ... WRs Johnnie Dixon (99 catches, five TDs) and Clinton Stephens (35 catches, seven TDs) are Bauta’s top targets. ... Dwyer’s defense has been stellar, totaling five shutouts and limiting Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas to three points last week. ... Panthers run a 4-3 scheme and are anchored by a defensive line that includes tackles Mike Minns (6-0, 295) and Mark Kelly (6-2, 230), and ends Malik Brown (6-4, 210) and Ted Taylor (6-2, 190). ... Dwyer has made the playoffs every year since 1999, losing to Venice in the Class 5A state title game in 2000 and winning the Class 4A title in ’09. ... Manatee has won 10 straight and is 11-0 and allowing 10 points a game against Florida schools. ... The Hurricanes haven’t lost a postseason home game since dropping an ’05 state semifinal to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. ... Manatee recorded five sacks last week, including two by DE Blake Keller, who has 11 on the season. ... QB Cord Sandberg leads the team in rushing (690 yards), has thrown for 1,910 yards and has a hand in 26 TDs. ... WR/RB Anthony Lauro is second on the team in rushing yards (550) and receptions (44). ... This is Manatee’s third straight state semifinal and fifth in seven years. The past four have been against Aquinas.
Prediction: Manatee 10, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 7.
Miami Norland (13-0) at Palmetto (12-1)
When: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 1280-AM WTMY
The scoop: This is Palmetto’s first trip to the state semifinals since the 1986 season, when it fell to Jacksonville Bolles in the state title game. ... Miami Norland has made a habit of getting deep into the playoffs this century. The Vikings lost in the Class 3A title game to Tampa Jefferson last fall. ... Norland is coming off a 29-13 victory at Belle Glade Glades Central, a place affectionately known as the “Muck.” No team from Miami-Dade or Broward counties had entered the muck and walked out with a win in the playoffs, and Glades Central was 30-1 in home playoff games dating to 1997. Glades Central was without four top defensive players who were suspended to an alleged sexual assault, according to the Palm Beach Post. ... University of Miami-recruit Randy “Duke” Johnson dominated the Region 4 final for the Vikings with a 230-yard rushing performance. ... Norland quarterback Tony Thomas can air it out, but last week’s game witnessed the signal-caller only completing three passes. ... The defense is strong across the board with multiple Division I recruits. It features linebacker Keith “Bam” Brown (Illinois) and 6-foot-6, 325-pound offensive lineman Ereck Flowers (Miami). ... Palmetto is coming off a high, too, having traveled south to best Immokalee 42-21. The Tigers boast a balanced offense with senior quarterback Trent Miller finding several receivers. He has had two five-touchdown games in the postseason, while running back Josh Hicks has toted the ball effectively to limit opponents from keying on the pass. ... Miller receives a top target back this week as Cory Crawford returns to the field after missing the past few weeks to injury. ... These teams are the highest-ranked teams remaining in 5A, and it feels almost like a state championship game. ... The Tigers and Vikings have stout defenses, with Palmetto holding Immokalee quarterback Tshumbi Johnson (1,016 rushing yards entering last week) to minus-18 rushing yards. The Vikings limited Glades Central to 151 passing yards and 97 rushing yards in the 16-point road victory.
Prediction: Miami Norland 24, Palmetto 14
-- Herald staff writers John Lembo, Jason Dill