MONDAY TAKE: Area Programs Get District Schedule Started

Larry Blustein
September 17, 2018 - 9:27 am

Larry Blustein

When the FHSAA started the point system last year, which determines football playoff slots, many coaches, players and fans didn’t understand it. Things have changed.

With an eye on getting enough points to be in the mix at the end of the year, it has come to a point where every week is important – no matter who you play.

As we are now in the fifth week of the season, 8A, 7A, 6A and 5A schools are all looking to grab one of the eight Region 4 playoff positions that will be up for grabs as the season begins to wind down.

For the smaller schools – 1A through 4A – last year there were only four slots in the playoffs, but because there are no district titles to play for, it was expanded this year to six teams, giving many of those programs who have a more challenging schedule, an opportunity to grab one of those coveted spots.

This week, with several key district and regional matchups will start to determine what teams have the chance to stay alive when the regular season gets under way.

When we did a projection back in the early summer of the programs that have the best shot of making it into the post season, it was with an idea of trying to sort things out. While some classes are easier than others at picking the four top seeds, other classes are extremely hard to predict, even here in the fifth week of the season.

In 8A, there are two regions that will include programs in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

In the south, Christopher Columbus, Palmetto, Southridge and South Dade should include Belen Jesuit. In the north end, the winner of American, Hialeah and North Miami district, who are the three favorites, will mix with the previously mentioned teams. Even if two teams come out of the district, there will still be two more slots – and that should come from Homestead, Southwest Miami, Coral Gables or another school that could pull some surprises down the stretch.

In the north, Broward County schools Plantation and Deerfield Beach would have to pretty much self-destruct not to make the playoffs. That would leave Miramar, Western, Taravella and Piper to join Palm Beach favorites Delray Atlantic, last year’s state runner-up, Palm Beach Central and maybe one more team to join the field of 8.

In 7A, it is extremely tough to get 8 teams to fill out a regional. Right now St. Thomas is a lock. McArthur should be as well – if the Mustangs can get by Nova. But either way, finding six more teams will be a core.

It appears that Doral Academy is the odds on favorite to come out of District 16. But after that, it will be very tough to get teams who truly deserve to be in the playoffs.

Nova and West Broward could make it. Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer and West Palm Beach Forest Hill should also be in, leaving one team to choose from out of the entire region.

While defending 6A state champion Miami Northwestern has had a rough start, the Bulls will make the playoffs – and no matter what happens in their games against Central and top-rated Carol City, those three programs are guaranteed.

Beyond District 16, it looks like Dillard may be the only team coming out of District 15, but beyond that, looking at four other programs will be tough. Heritage and Bayside are steady in District 14, and Daytona Mainland is a favorite in District 13, along with Deltona, Matanzas and former Cocoa head coach John Wilkinson’s New Smyrna Beach team.

In 5A, we know that it’s a Cardinal Gibbons and American Heritage race to start with.

District 15 figures to have just one program out of Fort Pierce Westwood, Port St. Lucie and Suncoast, but District 14 is loaded.

Last year’s surprise Rockledge, coached by former FIU quarterback Wayne Younger,  is NOT a surprise any more, and we will see how good they are this weekend when they host 8A Southridge. Then you have Coach Hurlie Brown’s Merritt Island squad and the always competitive Palm Bay Pirates.

Orlando Bishop Moore appears to be the only team in District 13 that may have the points to make it in the top 8.

When it comes to qualifying for 4A this season, some of the programs who have more challenging schedules may get the least points, but even though they are a lower seed, some schools such as Edison and Booker T. Washington have bigger players and deeper teams.

University School, Monsignor Pace, Gulliver, Clewiston and Glades Central all figure to be in the mix.

While we can pretty much print defending 3A state champion Chaminade-Madonna’s trip back to Orlando, choosing the other five programs who figure to be in the Region 4 mix is going to be a challenge.

Besides the Lions, programs who have a shot to make the playoffs include much improved Delray American Heritage, Calvary Christian, Somerset Palms, Westminster Christian as well as a few others.

Unlike last year – when defending state champion Champagnat Catholic had a direct path to Orlando, 2A may not be so clear cut – with Naples First Baptist, Moore Haven, Glades Day, Community School of Naples and surprising North Pam Beach Benjamin very much in the mix this season.

No matter what happens over the next few months, it will be exciting as the Race For Orlando is officially under way!

STEPPING UP 

Each week we spotlight some of the top performers who turned some heads. Here is a look at this week’s standouts:

2020 - Ryle Aguila, QB, Hialeah. Completed 22 of 31 with 266 yards with 3 touchdown passes and 1 rushing touchdown in a 28-0 win.

2019 – Vincent Davis, RB, Cardinal Gibbons. The University of Pittsburgh commit ran for 118 yards in a huge district win over Miami Jackson.

2020 – Dante De Rosa, LB, Gulliver Prep. Had 16 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and forced 1 fumble in a loss at North Palm Beach Benjamin.

2019 – Kamryn Giles, S, Plantation American Heritage. Came up with an interception for a score in a district win over Coconut Creek.

2021 – Torey Morrison, QB, Booker T. Washington. Completed 32 passed for 331 yards in a thrilling loss to 8A Christopher Columbus.

2022 – Deon Parker, QB, North Miami. Threw for 4 Tds in his debut, beating district rival North Miami Beach, 26-12.

2020 – Henry Parrish, RB, Christopher Columbus. The gifted standout ran for 164 yards in a big win over Miami Booker T. Washington.

2021 – Cedquan Smith, QB, Miramar. Completed 18 passes for 252 yards in a tough district loss to Plantation.

2019 – Kyle Walters, RB, Plantation. Ran for 127 yards in a key district win over Miramar.

2020 – Gerald Williams, QB, Coral Gables. Finished with 154 yards and 3 Tds in a win over longtime rival Miami High.

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