Aquinas, including blue-chip senior running back
Jordan Scarlett. Two years after a 12-0 state title
finish in 3A, University is back to square one.
6HOW LONG DOES JOHN WOLFORD GET TO HOLD HIS TD RECORD?
Bishop Kenny’s John Wolford, now at Wake
Forest, shattered the state record for career
touchdown passes last year, finishing with 126
over four stellar seasons. But he isn’t likely to
sit atop that list for long once the 2014 campaign kicks off.
Lake Nona’s Tucker Israel enters his senior
year with 106 TD throws out of an inventive offense orchestrated by head coach Anthony Paradiso. Israel passed for 30 as a freshman, 36 as
a sophomore and 40 for an 8-3 team last year.
It took Israel seven games to get to 22 TDs
7WHO IS THE NEXT FLORIDA MR. FOOTBALL?
Dwyer quarterback Daniel Parr put on a show
in the 7A final and finished fourth in the voting
last year, best among underclassmen. But does
he have enough around him to put up the numbers it takes to win this prize?
Stats won’t be a problem for Tucker Israel,
and Caleb Lewis will light it up as QB for Victory
Christian. But will their schools and schedules
get the respect of voters?
Two running backs sure to get plenty of car-
ries, Jacques Patrick of Timber Creek and Ray
Ray McCloud III of Sickles, should build on
prolific junior seasons and make a run at the
Player of the Year honor. Patrick is a bigger
back ( 6-2, 220) and bigger prospect on a team
that attracts more attention. But McCloud has
experienced blockers and a team that figures
to get him more games with another deep 7A
playoff run. Gentlemen, start your engines.
But here’s our Mr. Football: First Coast
quarterback DeAndre Johnson, who will surpass 3,000 yards passing again, break some
Jacksonville area records, lead a state title
contender, and get the statewide notoriety one
needs because he’s been committed to FSU
since his freshman year.
8WHICH TEAM UPPED THE SCHEDULED ANTE THE MOST?
American Heritage-Plantation is thirsty for
national attention and three serious upgrades to
an already solid schedule set the Patriots up to
stake their claim. American Heritage has added a
Broward County bragging-rights bonanza against
St. Thomas Aquinas at Sun Life Stadium and road
trips to Miramar and 8A runner-up Apopka.
The Patriots play Dwyer in a Kickoff Classic
and most who vote in the national polls factor in
those preseason results. “A lot of people were
telling us no. The big boys were willing to play,”
said second-year AH coach Mike Rumph.
9WHICH RIVALRY DO WE MISS THE MOST?
Armwood vs. Plant is as good as it gets, and
that Hillsborough County rivalry was off the
table after Armwood moved to a nine-team 6A
district in 2013. But we get a semblance of it
back this year because they have agreed to
meet in a Kickoff Classic.
Still missing is Apopka vs. Dr. Phillips in Or-
ange County. They can collide only if both reach
the 8A final four. (We’re not going to predict they
both go 6-4 and play in the Kumquat Bowl).
10 WHAT’S THIS ABOUT NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL BOWL GAMES?
Paragon Marketing, which partnered with
ESPN to build a brand of nationally televised
high school football, is now pitching a national
prep bowl series that would pit state championship squads against each other. FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing likes what he hears.
Dearing said Paragon is starting with state
associations within the SEC footprint. If the
idea gets off the tee, fans could see one or two
Florida champions invited to face title teams
from Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana as early
as 2015. Reaction from coaches is mixed.
“That would be a lot of motivation,” said coach
Tim Harris Jr. of Booker T. Washington, which
used wins in Georgia and Nevada to gain national
title acclaim last year. “We had those marquee
games early last year, and then we worried a little
bit about our kids going flat before the playoffs. If
your team had a chance to be voted into something like a national bowl series for high school
teams, they’re going to stay very focused.”
St. Thomas Aquinas is playing New Jersey
power Don Bosco Prep at West Point this year
in its seventh consecutive season with at least
one out-of-state foe. But Raiders coach Rocco
Casullo said taking interstate play beyond the
regular season makes no sense.
“I’ll tell you right now, Monsignor [Vincent]
Kelly wouldn’t allow us to do that,” Casullo said
in the spring. “All the top programs around the
country are playing other top teams during the
season. That kind of sorts itself out from a national perspective. I don’t see how this [bowl]
idea has any traction.”