1St. Thomas Aquinas-Ft. Lauderdale (7A- 14): How many synonyms are there for the word
“loaded”? The Raiders are talented, they run a
college-style prep program, and they are well-coached. This is a team hoping for state titles
and beyond. Mythical national title contenders,
holding on line one.
2Miami Central (6A- 16): The Rockets have won five consecutive state titles in Class
6A and seem like they could do it again.
There is good talent up front and of course
the skill position potential is incredible at
3American Heritage-Plantation (5A- 16): There’s a new coach, but he’s … uh …
pretty well known. Three-time NFL Pro Bowl
cornerback Patrick Surtain is in charge, and he
has plenty to work with in 2016. Look for big
things from the Patriots.
4Trinity Christian-Jacksonville (4A- 2): Another state title was captured in 2015
and the Conquerors look like they have the
talent to do it again. As they have always done,
Trinity Christian likes to spread the carries
around on offense—so who do you key on?
5Flanagan-Pembroke Pines (8A- 12): The defending 8A state champions won by
strangling opponents like a boa constrictor
on defense. Stanford Samuels II takes over
as head coach and has a good bit of talent
returning on both sides of the ball.
6Mainland-Daytona Beach (6A- 13): The Bucs are loaded once again and looking to
make a nice playoff run. The skill positions are
excellent, which is typical at Mainland. Look for
lots of big plays—and remember, this was Miami
Central’s toughest playoff opponent in 2015.
7Apopka (8A- 4): With 14 starters back off of last year’s 10-2 team, there is reason
for optimism in the Blue Darter camp. Look
for a bounce back and a similar situation as in
2012 and 2014—when it won state titles.
8Booker T. Washington-Miami (4A- 8): Don’t ever bet against “Ice.” Tim “Ice” Harris is
back coaching prep football in Miami-Dade
after a stint with the Miami Hurricanes. And
it’s not like Booker T. wasn’t winning while Ice
was gone—it is going for five straight state
titles this year.
9Armwood-Seffner (6A- 7): The Hawks finished 14-1 but ran into the same road
block they’ve often run into—Miami Central.
One of the best backfields in Florida resides
in Seffner, and the secondary will be a major
strength on defense. Good things lie ahead.
10 Cocoa (4A- 5): When you’re as good as Cocoa is, and you return 17 starters
from a 10-win team—well, you know where
this is going. The Tigers can play with anybody,
have D-I talent and a ton of offensive firepower. Watch out, 4A.
11 Viera (7A- 6): It’ll be all about the de- fense for the Hawks, who steam-rolled
their way to the state title game last year. If
the defense can hold off the opponents as the
offense finds itself, this could be another deep
playoff type team—once again.
12 Lakeland (7A- 7): The Dreadnaughts have an outstanding running game, a
great tradition, a great coaching staff and were
right on the cusp of the state semifinals last
season. Look for an even better postseason
run in 7A this year.
13 Braden River (7A- 11): Last year, the Pirates held opponents to 9. 2 points
per game. If you’re an opponent, how’s that
for depressing? There’s always St. Thomas
Aquinas to worry about in the postseason, but
beyond that Braden River will be amongst the
best in Florida.
14 Venice (7A- 11): How about 19 starters coming back? I mean, who returns
19 starters in high school football? Well, the
Indians do. Look for a special season in Venice
this year, with talent returning everywhere from
a 10-2 team in 2015.
15 Southridge-Miami (8A- 16): Surprised the Spartans are here? Don’t be. With
20 players holding Division I scholarship offers
as of the spring, this is a roster busting at the
seams with talent. It went two rounds in the
state playoffs last year.
16 Dwyer-Palm Beach (7A- 13): The Panthers have become the class of
Palm Beach County, and this year will be no
different. This is a load of talent back from the
11-win group of a year ago, and some newcomers will help plug in the holes.
17 Plant-Tampa (7A- 8): The Panthers never back away from anybody, and that’s
why this program is so strong. A good crop of
returning starters fills the roster and there is
major talent. Will Plant get to double-digit wins
this year? We think so.
18 Miramar (8A- 12): So the Patriots missed the playoffs last year, but it is
the local media’s contention that this was an
anomaly and the returning talent is incredible.
Look for a lot of points on offense, where 7
starters return to the lineup.
19 Pine Forest-Pensacola (6A- 1): With a talented, multi-dimensional quarterback returning, a district title under its belt,
and a generally loaded roster, the Eagles will
likely improve tremendously from their 8-4
record in 2015. Look for this program to be the
top dog in the Panhandle.
20 Vanguard-Ocala (6A- 5): The QB position is in great shape, the playoff
pedigree is well-established. Also the defense
is of the play-making variety. The Knights can
score, they can stop you—and they’re going to
win 10 or more games this year.
21 Columbia-Lake City (7A- 2): In Lake City, football is king. And with the
state’s leading passer returning and a potent
running game, the offense won’t be a problem.
If the newer starters come along, this could be
a very strong (and well-coached) Tigers’ team.
22 Bolles-Jacksonville (4A- 2): Come on … this is Bolles. Are you really surprised
the Bulldogs are expected to do great things?
The offense will be well-oiled, and if a few
question marks can be answers on both sides
of the line, look for championships.
23 Jesuit-Tampa (5A-10): The Tigers were oh-so-close last year, and they return
a lot of that firepower that nearly got the team
to the state title game. With 13 wins last year,
one can expect this is a team that can plow
through 5A if it wants to.
24 Bartram Trail-Jacksonville (5A-10): Just call Bartram Trail the Ohio State
of high school quarterbacking. The Bears have
three excellent signal callers, almost never miss
the postseason, and are coming off of a 9-win
season. Could this be their best season ever?
25 Rickards-Tallahassee (5A- 2): With Wakulla rebuilding a good bit after a
tremendous 2015 season, look for Rickards to
be one of the top teams—if not the top team—
in the Big Bend area. The Raiders are loaded
and have some key additions.
PRESENTED BY SPORTS UNLIMITED
2016 FNF FLORIDA