Larry Blustein

SFHSS TOP 15 – Central Rockets Soar To No. 1

Larry Blustein
November 20, 2018 - 10:33 am

It had been one of the most anticipated games of the year – and it lived up to the billing.

For the first time since the Top 15 rankings began at the start of the season, Carol City had held the top spot – and even though they had been stripped of two wins for using an ineligible player – head coach Benedict Hyppolite and his team continued to impress and win big.

Last Friday night, the ONLY team that had a shot of winning a matchup between the two district powers – Miami Central – avenged an early season loss – and knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs, 31-21, in a game that went right down to the wire.

With Central taking the top spot – it appears likely, with their nearly three touchdown win at No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, that no matter what happens the rest of the way, the Rockets will finish on top – with a schedule that nobody came close to playing! 

The Rockets will play host to district rival Northwestern – while St. Thomas Aquinas will be at home against Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer.

Here is a look at the Top 15 as we head into the third round of the playoffs:

1. Central Rockets (6A – 10-2). There is no doubt – after beating No. 1 Miami Carol City – that head coach Roland Smith and the Rockets are the top team in Florida – as well as south Florida. THIS WEEK: It will district rival, No. 11 Miami Northwestern, which won the past two weeks on the road. NEXT WEEK: It will be either Naples or North Fort Myers in a state semifinal next Friday.

2. St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (7A – 11-1). If it’s the post season, here is a team that everyone is watching – and after a convincing 51-0 win over district rival Fort Lauderdale – it is time to move in the playoffs. THIS WEEK: The Dwyer Panthers, a team that head coach Roger Harriott and his team know too well, head south for a key matchup. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Venice and Valrico Bloomingdale will provide the opposition in a state semifinal contest.

3. Carol City Chiefs (6A – 9-3). Here is a program – that in the pre-season was not even mentioned as a team to watch, but head coach Benedict Hyppolite and his team dominated in every game this season – having two major battles with longtime rival Miami Central. Despite the loss to the No. 1 Rockets, this is a program, that would still take care of business against anyone else in the state.

4. Columbus Explorers (8A – 12-0). This may be one of the hottest programs in Florida right now, and after a convincing 42-0 win over Palmetto in the second round, head coach Chris Merritt and his team believes that they are one of the favorites to get to Orlando. THIS WEEK: The assignment on Friday afternoon (1:00) will be a very talented South Dade program, which has been tested this year as well. NEXT WEEK: Region 3 will provide a very impressive matchup between Palm Beach Central and No. 5 Deerfield Beach, which the winner of Region 4 will get.

5. Deerfield Beach Bucks (8A – 11-1). Other than the loss to No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, head coach Jevon Glenn and his football team has been on a mission, and after shutting Plantation down, 23-0, they are indeed in control of their own road to Orlando. THIS WEEK: Palm Beach Central has been a program that everyone felt had a shot to get to state this year. They are now on the clock. NEXT WEEK:.Region 4 champion – either No. 4 Miami Christopher Columbus or South Dade will provide the opposition – in what promises to be a tremendous state semifinal.

6. Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs (5A – 10-2). It wasn’t easy, but head coach Matt Dubuc and his program held on for a huge home win against Orlando Jones, 30-27, pushing them to a huge third round game. THIS WEEK: Nobody has to say a word about this week’s game against district rival American Heritage – which has been a true thorn for this team over the years. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Region 3, either Tampa Jesuit or surprising Tampa Jefferson, will be ready for the winner in a state semifinal meeting.

7. American Heritage Patriots (5A – 10-1). Nobody was doubting this team last week on the road against No. 1 seed Rockledge. Not if you truly understand head coach Pat Surtain and this team. The two-time defending state champions are still alive. THIS WEEK: After losing its only game on the field this season to the Chiefs, there was not a player on this team that didn’t believe that this rematch wouldn’t happen. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Region 3, either Tampa Jesuit or surprising Tampa Jefferson, will be ready for the winner in a state semifinal meeting.

8. Chaminade-Madonna Lions (3A – 9-2). There are a very few programs in south Florida that happen to be playing at this kind of level right now. After a week off, head coach Dameon Jones and his football team returned to action with a convincing 62-0 win over Palmer Trinity at home. THIS WEEK: The much improved American Heritage Delray Stallions will head south for a contest that will help to wrap up Region 4 NEXT WEEK: The race to Orlando will go through Region 3 and No. 1 seed Clearwater Central Catholic or No. 2 Tampa Berkeley Prep.

9. University School Sharks (4A – 10-1). After enjoying the first week of the playoffs, watching the action unfold, head coach Daniel Luque and his football team rolled to a convincing home win against Miami Gulliver Prep.  THIS WEEK: In the opening week of the season, this program faced off with Belle Glade Glades Central. They won convincingly, 35-6. Now, 11 weeks later, the two meet for the Region 4 title. NEXT WEEK: It will be a state semifinal matchup with the winner the Region 3 contest between No. 1 seed Cocoa and the No. 2 seed Fort Myers Bishop Verot.

10. South Dade Bucs (8A – 10-2). Since the beginning of the season, there were many who felt that if head coach Nate Hudson and his program could stay healthy, they had a chance to do some positive things. That happened last week as they avenged an early season loss to No. 2 Southridge, 21-13. THIS WEEK: It will be a day after Thanksgiving meeting with No. 1 Columbus at Tropical Park at 1 p.m. NEXT WEEK: Region 3 will provide a very impressive matchup between Palm Beach Central and No. 5 Deerfield Beach, which the winner of Region 4 will get.

11. Northwestern Bulls (6A), 7-5). What has happened for head coach Max Edwards and his defending 6A state champions is that they are still alive and kicking after two road games – last Friday night a convincing 31-19 win at Palm Bay Heritage. THIS WEEK: It will be No. 1 Miami Central in a rematch of an early season meeting that the Bulls dropped to the Rockets in a district game. NEXT WEEK: It will be either Naples or North Fort Myers in a state semifinal next Friday.

12. Southridge Spartans (8A – 9-3). After winning the district title and beating North Miami in the first round, the season came to an end with a loss at home against district rival South Dade. It was indeed a season where this program set the table for the future.

13. Palmetto Panthers (8A - 10-2).  For head coach Mike Manasco and his football team, this was truly a season where players, coaches and fans can take great pride in winning 10 games. They got behind early to Christopher Columbus and lost 42-0.

14. Plantation Colonels (8A – 10-2). Two years ago, this team battled to win a game, but things have changed for head coach Steve Davis and his program. Despite losing to powerhouse Deerfield Beach, 23-0, the future remains very bright for this team.

15. Western Wildcats (8A, 9-3). What happened once again this season is head coach Adam Ratkevich and his program showed that they are one of the top 8A programs in south Florida. Despite losing at Palm Beach Central, 38-0, the future remains very bright. 

(TIE) – Hialeah Champagnat Catholic Lions (2A, 7-5). The defending state champions have clawed their way to the region finals for the third straight year – and as head coach Hector Clavijo and his team relish the 24-16 win over No. 1 seed Moore Haven, they understand that this has been a very challenging year. THIS WEEK: It’s another road game – against No. 2 seed Naples St. John Neumann. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Region 3 – either No. 1 seed St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut or No. 2 Seffner Christian.

SEASON OVER FOR: Belen Jesuit (8A, 8-3), Booker T. Washington (4A, 5-6), Calvary Christian Academy (3A, 5-6), Coconut Creek (5A, 6-5), Coral Gables (8A, 6-5), Coral Springs Charter (4A, 8-3), Dillard (6A, 8-3), Doral Academy (7A, 8-3), Fort Lauderdale (7A, 9-3), Gulliver Prep (4A, 8-4), Hialeah (8A, 9-2), McArthur (7A, 9-2), Miami Christian (2A, 8-2), Miramar (8A, 6-5), Monsignor Pace (4A, 5-6), Norland (6A, 4-7), North Miami (8A, 6-5), Palmer Trinity (3A, 9-2). Piper (8A, 6-5), South Miami (7A, 8-3), West Broward (7A, 7-4), Westminster Christian (3A, 9-2).


Here is a look back at the Top 15 throughout the season – giving fans a chance to chart the progress:

TOP 15 - WEEK 13 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 12 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 11 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 10 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 9 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 8 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 7 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 6 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 5 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 4 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 3 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 2 -

TOP 15 - WEEK 1 -

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