Top 25 Teams
1Miami Central: Any doubts of Central falling off with the departure of head coach Telly Lockette were quelled when the school hired former Northwestern coach Roland Smith. The Rockets are once again loaded on
both sides of the ball with Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby making
up best backfield in high school football and several experienced,
athletic pieces on defense. Central will be looking to return to the
state championship game for the fourth time in as many seasons.
Photo by Hobe Brunson
02Apopka: The Blue Darters returned to the top of the mountain in a thrilling
53-50 victory over Cypress Bay. This season
many of the great players that won last year’s
title return, including quarterback Zack Darlington and defensive lineman Anthony Ellis.
03 St. Thomas Aquinas: The Raiders were in an unfamiliar spot last season –
underdogs in class 7A to Manatee. However,
they knocked off the Hurricanes in the state
semifinals and went on to win their first state
title under head coach Rocco Casullo.
04Booker T. Washington: The Torna- does will look to continue their dominance over the rest of Class 4A with many of
the names you have been hearing about over
the last three years, like quarterback Treon Harris and defensive end Chad Thomas.
05University School: The Suns lose many seniors from last year’s Class 3A state
championship team, but programs like University
School just reload. Sean White and Jordan Scarlett will lead the offense while Richard Yeargin
and Quincy Wilson will hold it down on defense.
06Manatee: Manatee loses a ton from a group that went to two state championship games in three seasons, but Manatee has
a lot of good-looking underclassmen, a star on
defense in Demarcus Christmas and a potential
breakout performer on offense in Trayvon Walters.
07 Plant: The Panthers are normally known for top-notch skilled players, but
this season’s team could rule class 8A behind
an awesome offensive line that includes Ray
Raulerson and 2015 prospect Jake Fruhmorgen along with a deep secondary.
08 Godby: After many years of close calls and disappointments, the Godby Cougars were finally able to call themselves state
champions. Now many are wondering if this
talented squad, led by linebacker Jacob Pugh,
can do it again.
09 Armwood: The Hawks will be replacing several graduating seniors with fresh
faces in 2013 and if history is any indication,
expect Armwood to be extremely tough.
10Madison County: The Cowboys were so close to pulling off the upset against
University School in the 3A title game last season.
11 Dr. Phillips: Although this program has been overshadowed by Apopka in the
past couple of years, Dr. Phillips is still one of
the top teams in the state.
12Gainesville: A tough loss in the Class 6A final to Miami Central overshadowed
a fine season from the Hurricanes. With running back Tony James and wide receiver Kenric
Young, expect Gainesville to bounce back and
be in the mix for a title.
13 Cocoa: Although Cocoa struggled in losses to University School and Booker
T. Washington last season, the program is still
going strong and John Wilkinson remains arguably the most respect coach in the state.
14 Miami Northwestern: With a strong underclass and some top-notch seniors
including JoJo Robinson and Mike Smith, it
looks like the Bulls are ready to run again under
head coach Stephen Field.
15Largo: The Packers rolled into the 2012 postseason with a dominating
10-0 record, but were shocked in the first
round by Armwood. This year the team is
younger but eager to prove that last year’s
early ending was a fluke.
16 Lake Gibson: The Braves first-ever perfect regular season was ruined by a
49-42 first-round loss to Mainland. Lake Gibson
returns several starters and could have its best
team in a decade.
17 Pensacola Catholic: Quarterback Cody Henry and linebacker Delvin Purifoy are the
main cogs for a program that is still looking to get
over the hump.
18Immokalee: The Indians came within a play of defeating Godby for the Class
5A title. With several seniors gone, it will be up
to players like top athlete J.C. Jackson to make
amends for last year’s disappointment.
19 Columbia: The Tigers are coming off of another deep playoff run and expect
a strong group of underclassmen to rise and
assist top seniors Trey Marshall and Rakeem
Battle to another great season.
20Cypress Bay: The Lightning came out on the wrong side of an instant classic
against Apopka, but Mark Guandolo has high
hopes for his returning starters like Deion Hallmon and Marquese Dudley-Gordon.
21 Lakewood: The Spartans made huge strides last season and are expected to
build off that with an explosive offense led by
all-around athlete Jocqui Ellison and offensive
lineman Isaiah Wynn.
22 Kissimmee Osceola: The Kowboys will once again look to their defense to
make another playoff run. And with linebackers
Pooh Adams and Riley Nicholson along with
defensive back Juaquawn Jenkins they can’t be
23Lakeland: The names change but whenever a group of young men
coached by Bill Castle walk into Bryant Stadium
wearing the black helmets with the “L” on side,
they have everyone’s respect.
24Sandalwood: The Saints return eight defensive starters from a tough-luck
7-3 squad that missed out on the playoffs. Expect linebacker Kain Daub and defensive lineman Blake McClain to make sure that doesn’t
25Fort Pierce Central: Centralrolled through the first 11 games of the
2012 season before running into a buzz saw at
Manatee. Expect the Cobras to be strong in the
playoffs this time around.