The Patriot's won a state title two years ago and pulled off a big win in overtime against St. Thomas on Thursday night. They beat Miami Central in the playoffs two years ago which is why they get the nod for no. 1 in the state right now. Plenty of offensive play-makers, but it is the "Dark Side" defense that has them in prime position to win a state title.
2. Miami Central(6A-South)
Miami Central lost 19 D-1 players a year ago and appear to be almost as strong this season. The Rocket's have been blessed with Jeff Godfrey and Rakeem Cato, it has been a big drop-off in the QB play department. A trio of sophomore running backs that can take it the distance is a good recipe for playoff wins. The defense is big, fast, and flat nasty. Points will be at a premium when facing Central.
3. Miami Norland(5A- South)
The loss to Jefferson in the state title game a year ago does not seem to have lingered. The Viking offense is led by Duke Johnson who has been nothing short of spectacular. The defense has been better than advertised and this team is probably playing with more confidence than anyone. They are a clear favorite in the 5A classification.
4. Armwood(6A- North)
The Hawk's let one slip through their fingers a year ago when they were upset by a four loss Lincoln team. There is a strong case that this is the most talented team in the state. They have been hit with the injury bug a little early in the season. Matt Jones and Daryl Richardson are returning which should take the offense to another level.
5. St. Thomas(7A- South)
The Raider's have looked almost human at times this year and suffered their first Broward County loss since 2007 on Thursday night. The offense is lacking the explosive play-makers that it has had in the past, but they are still one of the best coached teams in the state. As usual the defense is tough to score on. The loss may be a good thing for this team long-term.
6. Dr. Phillips(8A- North)
They lost a ton from their dominant team a year ago, but any team with Nick Patti is capable of beating anyone on any given day. Not quite as explosive as a year ago offensively(Dee Hart), they still appear to be the top team in Central Florida. The defense will need to tighten up.
7. Tampa Plant(8A- North)
Do you want to bet against this team? In what was supposed to be a re-building year, the Panthers are once again stringing wins together. They have moved to the top classification, but some of the top Dade teams have moved out of that class.
8. University School(3A- South)
The little team that could. No disrespect to the other schools in 3A, but this should be a relatively easy road to a state title. They are as big, fast, and talented as many of the bigger schools. The school is going to start churning out D-1 prospects yearly as they are absolutely loaded. They will have to fight boredom during the regular season.
9. Island Coast(6A- South)
Another new program that broke through to the state semi-finals a year ago. The Gator's will ride the legs of Mario Pender, T.J. Johnson, and Mike Dumas on offense. On defense a plethora of quality senior starters have been light's out this year. Undefeated South Ft. Myers is a big district game coming up.
10. First Coast(7A- North)
First Coast looks like a Dade County team when you see them. Big and talented, their trio of linebackers is probably the best in the country. Suspect QB play has limited Chris Black in the passing game, but he is getting the ball in other ways. Shaping up to be a big second round game potentially with Lincoln.
11. Miami Northwestern(6A- South)
The Bull's have not started clicking offensively yet this season. Plenty of weapons are there, but they will need to hit their stride soon as several key district games await. Physically the defense should be every bit as good as anyone in the state. On the bright side the team has peaked a little early the last two years.
12. Columbus(8A- South)
The Explorer's were the early favorite to win the 'big classification' this year. Now they are just one of the favorite's to come out of the South bracket. A trio of running backs with Jesus Wilson at WR are the offense. The defense has been disappointing thus far.
13. Lincoln(7A- North)
The defending state champs return QB Ronald Butler with talented WRs Taj Williams, Raphael Andrades, and Reggie Davis. The defense is tough as always. Last year they snuck up on teams and pulled the upset in the title game, this year they are one of the hunted. It is not an easy road through the playoffs for the Trojans.
14. Venice(7A- South)
Another program that just keeps winning football games. Big win over Charlotte has them here instead of the Tarpons. The Indian's need a healthy Danny Dillard to make some noise down the road. This team has won plenty of regular season games, but has struggled in the playoffs recently.....is this the year that ends?
15. Vero Beach(8A- North)
This is considered one of the better teams recently at Vero and they are unbeaten this year. They appear to be the class of the Treasure Coast. They are position to sneak up on a few teams down the road. Dwayne Hoilett is having a great season.
16. Bolles(4A- North)
The train never stops winning at Bolles and they are once again running through the competition behind an impressive offensive line. All they do is win football games and it would be a surprise to not see them in Orlando at the end of the year.
17. Glades Central(5A- South)
How many plays on both sides of the ball can Will Likely make? The junior has been spectacular this year. The defense is good behind a pair of undersized play-making linebackers. Is this team balanced enough to beat Norland in the quarter-finals? Never bet against a team from the Muck.
18. Bartram Trail(6A)
Quarterback Nathen Peterman is as good as they come and this team is capable of coming out of the North bracket in this classification. They are going to see some more talented teams down the road, but Peterman's arm should keep them in the game.
19. Palmetto(5A- South)
Palmetto is ranked and not Manatee or Southeast? Incredibly yes. Quarterback Trent Miller has a pair of outstanding running backs and trio of talented wide receivers to work with. Miller is the perfect QB to run this hurry-up spread offense and he can flat throw the football. The lines are tough and they possess enough size. They only stay here if they can earn a split with the a-forementioned teams in the next couple of weeks.
20. Lakeland(7A- North)
There is controversy in Polk County and centers on Lakeland and some violations. The Dreadnaught's are one of the state's premier programs and they are undefeated, but you can't help but think this might affect them down the road. They are in a favorable spot for a playoff run.
21. Pensacola(6A- North)
They have kept winning since capturing their first state title a few years ago. Defense is the calling card and it consistently has improved throughout the season.
22. Boyd Anderson(7A- South)
A new coaching staff has the Cobra's playing better, more disciplined football. Talent is never the problem at BA. The schedule toughens up here down the stretch, they will need to show that they can win against some top tier teams to stay here.
23. Countryside(7A- North)
Is this the year that Gray Crow steps up and takes his team deep in the playoffs? This is a well coached, talented team that is young in spots. Can they beat Plant?
24. Godby(5A- North)
Our second team from Tallahassee, this senior laden group might have an easier road than rival Lincoln. There is a lot of big play potential on the both sides of the ball.
25. Miami Booker T. Washington(4A- South)
This is a very young team with a core group of underclassmen that will be around awhile. They have the raw talent to play with anyone, but are probably a year away from really turning some heads.