The Florida FHSAA championships are held in the Citrus Bowl which is located in one of the worst parts of "The City Beautiful" as Orlandonians like to call it. I've also lived in Tampa and can tell you Tampa is a better place to live because it is on the Gulf coast. As for beauty, Lexington surpasses Orlando, Tampa and Atlanta (lived there for seven years). I moved to Florida to be closer to my grandchildren and the cold winters in Lexington began to get to my bones. This week has seen cool days (below 80) and the nights have been cold (in the 50s and 60s) for central Florida.
In Florida and Georgia, high school football is a big deal. Most Georgia high school football news comes out of Atlanta via the Journal-Constitution. In Florida, the Orlando Sentinel is the #1 news outlet for football, but the Tampa, St.Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami news outlets aren't far behind. Brighthouse cable network has its own channel to cover HS football with HS games televised every Friday night and Saturday's when they are not showing some obscure college game picked up from one of the major networks and they pick up games from the SEC network. Football in Florida compares to basketball in Kentucky as you can see here. Kentucky is still a notch above due to all the legal battles for ticket rights to Rupp fought in divorce courts and estate disputes. But, that has everything to do with basketball and nothing to do with high school sports.
This weekend the "Nation of Miami" swept the Florida championships, proving that the best football is played in south Florida, mainly in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties, translated into the metropolitan areas of West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. These three counties are considered are part of the greater Miami metroplex and also includes Monroe County whose county seat is Key West. I believe Howard Schnellenberger came up with the term, "Miami Nation" for recruiting purposes when he was the head coach at the "U." That was a larger territory which began with the I-4 corridor from Tampa to Daytona extending south to Key West on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Friday night I watched Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) beat Niceville (Florida Panhandle) 55-39 for the Class 7-A State Championship (2nd largest in school population). One thing that stood out was Dwyer's OL and DL were a lot bigger than Niceville's. Niceville operated primarily out of the shotgun and the pistol while Dwyer ran multiple sets, including the pro set, shotgun, I and power I. This game had a lot of penalties and turnovers. While it was exciting to watch due to both teams making big plays, the poor officiating and the turnovers made me wonder if this was the best that Florida has to offer.
The other games of the day was Friday afternoon's matchup between Green Cove Springs HS and American Heritage from Plantation, FL. American Heritage destroyed Clay 66-8 to win the 5-A championship. Rivals 14th ranked 5* running back Sony Michel (Georgia Commit) scored three TD's. Here's the Sentinel's story, if you're interested in these two games.
Saturday afternoon Armwood (Seffner, FL) played Miami Central for the 6-A championship. The Rockets of Miami Central blitzed the Armwood Hawks to the tune of 52-7. This was Miami Central's second consecutive state title. You can read about the game here.
The last game of the FHSAA championships was played Saturday night between Apopka (Orlando suburb) and Homestead's South Dade (Miami suburb) for the Class 8-A championship. Apopka broke the state single season scoring record, but South Dade won its first state championship game 41-28. Chandler Cox of Apopka, who holds a UK offer, wore his best friend's (Nebraska commit QB Zack Darlington) number for the game. Cox has played QB all season due to Darlington's injury in the first game of the year. Here's an article about the game, if you're interested.
Let's take a final look at South Florida's dominance this year: Each is linked to Wikipedia which talks about each town and has a Florida location map. Those links in bold are Miami-Dade metroplex teams.
(Miami) Booker T. Washington beat (Jacksonville) Bolles 40-21
Miami Central beat (Seffner) Armwood 52-7
If and when Kentucky improves its position in the SEC, we will begin to get more commitments out of Florida and maybe south Florida. South Florida is one reason why Clint Hurtt is so valuable to Louisville.
Georgia's championships, like Florida's were played on Friday (Classes AAAAA, AAA, & A (Private) and Saturday, Classes AA, AAAA, A (Public) and AAAAAA championships were played. The Georgia championships are played in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Atlanta area schools are in bold.
Norcross beat (Suwanee) North Gwinnett 31-14. Both of these schools are located in the greater Atlanta area. There were 15 players involved in this game who hold Div I college offers. Norcross became the first team to win back to back championships in this division since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Read the Atlanta Journal Constitution's account here.
(Fairburn) Creekside beat Tucker 52-28. Creekside now has its first Georgia title and finished the season with a 15-0 record. Creekside was opened in 1990. The AJC does a better job at writing than does the Orlando Sentinel as you can see here. Both of these schools are located in the Atlanta metro area.
Griffin beat Carrollton 56-35. This classification belonged to small town Georgia this year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution describes this game as a track meet which included a 90 yard fumble recovery return. Read the story here.
Buford beat (Sandersville) Washington County 35-19 to win its 10th state championship and set a single season scoring record in the process. Coverage of this game can be read here. Buford is an Atlanta metro city in Gwinnett County.
(Atlanta) Lovette beat (Barnesville) Lamar County 14-7. These are small schools. Lovette won its first state championship in more than 40 years, according to this article from the Journal Constitution.