It started last year when they beat Southridge and gave Miami Central a run before losing three rounds deep in the 6A state playoffs. This year, South Dade has a chance to really shock some football purists.

While much of the attention has been paid to programs such as unbeaten Columbus, Central and Northwestern, there are many who have paid little attention to head coach Greg Dentino and the Buccaneers, but that could be a huge mistake.

South Dade has the speed, size, talent and coaching to play with anyone in the state, and after beating previously unbeaten Braddock 35-0 to end the regular season, a first-round playoff match with Varela shouldn't get in the way of making a serious run at Orlando.

"We have the talent on this team," said Dentino. "Now we have to play one game at a time and see what happens down the road."

While he won't tell you that he can match programs such as Central and Columbus player for player, Dentino knows that the speed and athletic ability his Buccaneers have, can turn the 9-1 record they currently have into 14-1 -- quickly.

"Last year, nobody figured we had any chance to beat some of the big boys, which is understandable. We lost early to a very good Columbus team, but a lot has changed since that game some 9 weeks ago."

This week, junior running back Torry Clayton had 151 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries before giving way to senior Jonquez Martin.

Martin ran for 49 yards on nine carries, but the big story was on the other side of the ball.

South Dade's defense, which started the season with many questions, pitched its fourth shutout of the season. The defense emerged with five takeaways and limited the Bulldogs (8-1) to just 121 yards total offense.

The Bucs' secondary showcased itself in the second half, intercepting two passes, including one when the Bulldogs were driving down field. Antwan Eddie caught the first pass and returned it just a few yards before being tackled, but it was Derek Pollox who sealed the win with his interception.

The senior defensive back returned the intercepted pass, giving South Dade quality field position for its last touchdown, a 17 yard scamper by Clayton.

South Dade (9-1) plays host to Varela in the opening round while Braddock plays host to Southridge.

In other Miami-Dade action in the final week of the regular season:
  • NORTHWESTERN 28, JACKSON 18: Teddy Bridgewater is back and the Bulls are winning. That's the only thing that this program knows for sure as they head into a first-round playoff game on Thursday against unbeaten Columbus. So much has happened with the Bulls this season. Everything from the suspension of 30 players, to the injury of Bridgewater to a humiliating national TV loss to Columbus, the firing of head coach Billy Rolle, who was re-hired and the resignation of Principal Charles Hankerson, who came back. Bridgewater, one of the nation's elite athletes, completed 19 of 25 passes for 185 yards and threw both touchdowns to junior Amari Cooper. Bridgewater did wear a small protective brace on his left knee due to the sprained MCL he suffered during a loss to Columbus on Oct. 15. Led by Jerrill Jenkins' 80 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, the Bulls (8-2) ran for 170 as a team.
  • CORAL REEF 42, SUNSET 7: The 6-4 Barracudas will be one of those teams people will be talking about when looking at the better programs in the state not to make a playoff spot. The trio of Brandon Clements, Trashaun Ward and Vernon Davis led the potent Barracudas (6-4, 2-3 District 16-6A) offense, which scored on its first three possessions and gained 337 yards on the ground. Clements carried the ball seven times for 50 yards with a pair of first-half touchdown runs. Davis caught an 18-yard touchdown from quarterback Matthias Karmmar, a 60-yard bomb from backup freshman quarterback Nicodem Pierre, and he also snagged an interception. Ward finally broke loose in the second half with 58- and 82-yard touchdown runs. He finished with 234 all-purpose yards.
  • CORAL GABLES 13, SOUTHWEST MIAMI 6: The record moves to 56-1. That's what this series has come to over the years, and while the Cavaliers missed out on the playoffs this season, head coach Joe Montoya and standout linebacker Denzel Perryman did keep the streak going in this long-standing rivalry.
  • PALMETTO 24, MIAMI HIGH 23 (OT): There is good news around Stingaree land this week as the football team will be headed to its first post-season game in over a decade. The sobering news is a first-round clash with powerhouse Miami Central. Even a season-ending, overtime thriller will not dampen Miami High's spirits as they get set for the Rockets. Andre O'Neil scored a touchdown and led a charge that kept the Stingarees in the game. Quarterback Bruno Jean engineered a long scoring drive for Miami High, who watched Palmetto score 17 unanswered points.
  • MONSIGNOR PACE 27, CARDINAL GIBBONS 3: As they get set to host West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman in the first round of the playoffs, the Spartans will do it as an unbeaten (9-0) district champion. Looking for its third undefeated regular season in school history -- 1998 and 2002 were the other two -- Pace got it by breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Trenton Greene came through in a big way to spark a strong defensive attack. Greene finished with 14 tackles and three sacks, and Gibbons offense was held to just 98 total yards (59 passing and 39 rushing). Senior standout Jabari Gorman scooped up a Gibbons fumble and rambled 35 yards for a score. Three minutes later, Anthon Samuels stepped in front of a Chase Bender pass and bolted 75 yards to the Gibbons' 5.
  • MIAMI SPRINGS 12, EDISON 7: A long and frustrating season came to an end for both schools as the Golden Hawks and Red Raiders played a defensive contest in the season finale. Keith Finnie came up with a sack in the end zone that paved the way for the victory. The Hawks took a three-point lead when Ricardo DelaPuente connected on a 43-yard field goal just before halftime. Edison scored first, on a 2-yard run by Stanly Dupont. Springs answered in the second on a 16-yard pass from Brandon Diaz to Kenny Holmes