Larry Blustein

SFHSS TOP 15 – Raiders Climb To The Top Spot

Larry Blustein
November 27, 2018 - 11:11 am

The one thing about south Florida – when it comes to high school football – is nothing is ever etched in stone.

With Miami Carol City losing in a region semifinal two weeks ago, the top team in Florida – which had beaten some of the best programs around – lost to a Central team that appeared to be destined to run the table.

For head coach Roland Smith, it was the meeting with district foe, Northwestern a team that had been 5-5 in the regular season, but head coach Max Edwards and his defending state 6A champions would pull a huge surprise.

So, with Central, a team that beat St. Thomas Aquinas at home early in the year, and Carol City out of the way, head coach Roger Harriott and his St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders have been solid since that setback and slides into the spotlight, breaking the District 16-6A stronghold on the top spot for 13 week.

The Raiders will take that top spot into this Friday’s State 7A semifinals.

There is nothing like south Florida high school football. 

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

1. St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (7A – 12-1). Right now, it would be hard to argue that this is the team playing the best in south Florida after yet another convincing playoff win, 35-0, against Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer. THIS WEEK: It’s a rematch for the third straight years as the defending state champion Venice comes into Fort Lauderdale for a state semifinal. NEXT WEEK: The winner of this game will get either Lakeland or Orlando Edgewater on Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. 

2. Columbus Explorers (8A – 13-0). The race for Orlando continued for head coach Chris Merritt and his undefeated team – with a big win against South Dade, 54-28, to capture the Region 4-8A title. THIS WEEK: It will be a trip to Deerfield to take on the No. 3 and 12-1 Bucks in a state semifinal matchup. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Jacksonville Mandarin and Sarasota Riverview in a state final matchup on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. 

3. Deerfield Beach Bucks (8A – 12-1). The combination of solid defense and timely offense turned out to be the difference in a Region 3-8A matchup against Palm Beach Central. In the end, it was head coach Jevon Glenn’s team that emerged with a 21-6 win. THIS WEEK: A home game for the state semifinals against No. 2 Miami Christopher Columbus. NEXT WEEK: The winner of Jacksonville Mandarin and Sarasota Riverview in a state final matchup on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

4. Central Rockets (6A – 10-3). An amazing season came to an end for head coach Roland Smith and his football team, losing an “SEC” region title game against defending state champion, Miami Northwestern, 19-15.

5. Carol City Chiefs (6A – 9-3). What head coach Benedict Hyppolite found out this season that being the best team in south Florida and the state comes with being able to finish it off. Despite humiliating a number of local teams, the will look toward 2019.

6. Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs (5A – 11-2). With his starting quarterback out for the season, head coach Matt Dubuc and his team rallied on both sides of the ball to capture the Region 4-5A title against district rival American Heritage, 35-7. THIS WEEK: Tampa Jesuit comes into Fort Lauderdale for one of the biggest home games ever for the Chiefs. NEXT WEEK: The winner will get either powerhouse Jacksonville Trinity Christian or upstart Citra North Marion on Dec. 7 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando at 3 p.m.

7. Chaminade-Madonna Lions (3A – 10-2). It was all about defense for the defending state champions – as head coach Dameon Jones and his team came away with a convincing, 14-3 win again American Heritage Delray. THIS WEEK: It will be a rematch of last year’s state semifinal on Friday at unbeaten Clearwater Central Catholic in what many are calling the 3A title game. NEXT WEEK: The winner will get either Tallahassee Florida High or West Palm Beach King’s Academy at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.

8. University School Sharks (4A – 12-1). Here is a program that has been impressive all season long under the direction of head coach Daniel Luque. Last Friday’s convincing Region 4-4A win over Glades Central, 45-14. THIS WEEK: The much anticipated trip to Cocoa is the next order of business for this program on Friday night at 7:30 in a state semifinal game. NEXT WEEK: It will be the state title game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Thursday night, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The winner of the Jacksonville Raines and Dunnellon game.

9. Northwestern Bulls (6A), 8-5). While nobody gave the defending 6A state champions any chance of knocking off red-hot Central last Friday night, head coach Max Edwards and his team had other plans, stunning everyone in a 19-15 win. THIS WEEK: A trip to Naples on Friday to take on the always tough Golden Eagles, which this team beat by 5 touchdowns last year. NEXT WEEK: It will be the winner of the Armwood and Crestview contest on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium. 

10. American Heritage Patriots (5A – 10-2). The road came to an end for head coach Pat Surtain and his two-time defending state champions in the Region 4-5A title game at Cardinal Gibbons, 35-7. This senior class was special for this team.

11. South Dade Bucs (8A – 10-3). The year came to an end for head coach Nate Hudson and his football team after a 54-28 loss in the Region 4-8A title game. It was truly a special season for this program, which played a challenging schedule 

12. Southridge Spartans (8A – 9-3). Solid season for a program that emerged as district champions in 2018. Plenty of young prospects.

13. Palmetto Panthers (8A - 10-2). Cannot say enough about the job that head coach Mike Manasco and his football team did this season. The future is indeed very bright.

14. Plantation Colonels (8A – 10-2). Coach Steve Davis and his program now has the formula back to continue playing at a high level. This team will be back better than ever in 2019.

15. Hialeah Champagnat Catholic Lions (2A, 8-5). Well, look who is still around as we head toward the state semifinals. First year head coach Hector Clavijo and the defending state champions won a convincing 21-10 at Naples St. John Neumann for a third consecutive Region 4-2A title. THIS WEEK: A trip to St. Petersburg to take on top seed Admiral Farragut. NEXT WEEK: It will be either Tallahassee North Florida Christian and Lakeland Victory Christian on Friday, Dec, 7 at 10 a.m. at Camping World Stadium.

(TIE) - Western Wildcats (8A, 9-3). Quite a run for head coach Adam Ratlevich and his team in 2018. This is a program that has earned the respect of south Florida football programs.

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).

CHARTING THE TEAMS WEEKLY

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

TOP 15 – WEEK 14 - https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/sfhss-top-15-central-rockets...

TOP 15 - WEEK 13 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-elite-teams-will-collide-ro...

TOP 15 - WEEK 12 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-carol-city-gets-race-orland...

TOP 15 - WEEK 11 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-carol-city-central-remain-n...

TOP 15 - WEEK 10 - https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/sfhss-top-15-exciting-week-a...

TOP 15 - WEEK 9 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-no-1-carol-city-no-2-centra...

TOP 15 - WEEK 8 - https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/sfhss-top-15-national-power-...

TOP 15 - WEEK 7 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-7-key-games-keep-teams...

TOP 15 - WEEK 6 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-6-top-teams-shine-spot...

TOP 15 - WEEK 5 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-5-top-programs-now-fac...

TOP 15 - WEEK 4 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-4-south-florida-loaded...

TOP 15 - WEEK 3 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-3-elite-teams-rising-top

TOP 15 - WEEK 2 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/sfhss-top-15-week-2-chiefs-stay-top-big-win

TOP 15 - WEEK 1 - https://wqam.radio.com/articles/countdown-kickoff-chiefs-start-2018-no-1

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Tuesday night (8-9) on WQAM (560AM - https://wqam.radio.com/media/podcast/south-florida-high-school-sports-radio). For the past 11 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!