Larry Blustein

SFHSS TOP 15 – A True South Florida Flavor At State Championships

Larry Blustein
December 04, 2018 - 10:29 am

When you look back at this season, there are so many memorable games that come to mind.

From overtime thrillers to key district games, this has once again been a season that everyone will point to.

With three of the four south Florida teams heading back to Camping World Stadium in Orlando to defend their state titles, many are truly looking forward to the matchups that await.

With a new head coach, Champagnat Catholic (2A) heads back to defend their state title. Dameon Jones and Chaminade-Madonna (3A) also head to the state title game for the third consecutive year. Perhaps the biggest story is Miami Northwestern, who finished third in their own district, but managed to put four road wins together to return to defend their 6A title.

This year’s state championships will also see Cardinal Gibbons (5A) make a return for the first time since 1990 – and Christopher Columbus, which fell short a year ago, making sure that they have the opportunity to win a first ever football crown.

While we will have the final Top 15 next week, here is a look at how the teams stack up, heading into the state championship: 

1. St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (7A – 13-1).Playing like the No. 1 team in south Florida, head coach Roger Harriott’s squad makes a return to Orlando – with a convincing 38-18 victory over Venice. THIS WEEK: It’s unbeaten Lakeland (14-0) on Friday night, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. at Camping World Stadium.

2. Columbus Explorers (8A – 14-0). There were very few teams who have played as well as head coach Chris Merritt and his impressive squad down the stretch. In pounding Deerfield Beach 49-21, plenty of fans saw just why everyone has been talking about this team. THIS WEEK: It’s surprising Jacksonville Mandarin (10-4) on Saturday night, Dec. 8 at 8:00. at Camping World Stadium.

3. Central Rockets (6A – 10-3). With the season finished, head coach Roland Smith and his squad look forward to next year – when things will be interesting once again.

4. Carol City Chiefs (6A – 9-3). It was quite a year for head coach Benedict Hyppolite and his talented team – losing just one time on the field – posting the highest scoring margin in Florida.

5. Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs (5A – 12-2). Since 1990, here is a program that has fought for recognition – and last Friday night, head coach Matt Dubuc led his alma mater back to the state title game with a convincing 14-3 win over a quality Tampa Jesuit team. THIS WEEK: It will be the surprising North Marion Colts (12-2) on Friday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium.

6. Chaminade-Madonna Lions (3A – 11-2). What this stretch run has shown head coach Dameon Jones and his talented team is that offensive football is always important, but defense wins games – and against previously unbeaten Clearwater Central Catholic, it was a 16-0 decision that got the job done. THIS WEEK: For the second straight year, the Lions will take on a Palm Beach County team – The King’s Academy at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.

7. Northwestern Bulls (6A - 9-5). What can you say about Max Edwards and his defending state champions that hasn’t been said? A 5-5 regular season that has turned into this in the toughest district in the country. Road wins at Daytona Beach Mainland, Palm Bay Heritage, nationally-rated Miami Central and last Friday’s mauling of Naples, 40-7  THIS WEEK:. It will be a rematch of last year’s title game against Armwood (13-1) on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium. 

8. Deerfield Beach Bucks (8A – 12-2). What a great season it was for head coach Jevon Glenn and his impressive squad, posting some outstanding wins along the way. Things came to an end in the state semifinals at home in a loss to Miami Christopher Columbus, 49-21.

9. American Heritage Patriots (5A – 10-2). For the two-time defending state champion, the season comes to an end – as head coach Pat Surtain and his staff start to reload for 2018 – and many are very optimistic.

10. University School Sharks (4A – 12-2). What a run it was for this gifted program that showed that hard work and outstanding coaching makes all the difference in the world. Coach Daniel Luque and his team watched their dream of playing for a state title come to an end at Cocoa, 33-32.

11. South Dade Bucs (8A – 10-3). Nothing to be ashamed about for head coach Nate Hudson and his program that had the opportunity to play some of the toughest programs in south Florida. 

12. Southridge Spartans (8A – 9-3). Coming up short of the pre-season goal of making the 8A state title game, this is certainly a program that will be back – and with a number of younger players, watch out in 2019!.

13. Palmetto Panthers (8A - 10-2). The success that head coach .Mike Manasco and this program enjoyed in 2018 will carry over to the 2019 season – where plenty of young talent returns.

14. Plantation Colonels (8A – 10-2). Another team that really made an impact this past season – with quality football talent on both sides of the ball. Coach Steve Davis has this team in the mix.

15. Hialeah Champagnat Catholic Lions (2A, 9-5). When you happen to be a defending state champion, it is not easy to close the door on a team – and that was something St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut found out last Friday night. What first year head coach Hector Clavijo found out was his team is indeed ready for that third straight trip to the finals. The 24-20 win was another road challenge that was met. THIS WEEK: The return to Orlando will find surprising Tallahassee North Florida Christian (8-4) on Friday, Dec, 7 at 10 a.m. at Camping World Stadium.

2018 PLAYOFF TEAMS: 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), Western Wildcats (8A, 9-3) and 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:

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TOP 15 - WEEK 1 -

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