Duval County seeks record three state football titles in the same year
What: FHSAA Class 1A-4A state football championship games
Where: Citrus Bowl (Orlando)
When: Friday, December 4, and Saturday, December 5
Friday, December 4
2A – University Christian (Jacksonville) vs. No. 1 Cambridge Christian (Tampa), 1:07 p.m.
1A – No. 1 Trenon vs. No. 3 Port St. Joe, 7:07 p.m.
Saturday, December 5
3A – No. 1 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) vs. American Heritage (Delray Beach), 1:07 p.m.
4A – No. 3 Raines (Jacksonville) vs. Booker T. Washington (Miami), 7:07 p.m.
Three Duval County schools to play for a state title this weekend
By Mike Ridaught
When University Christian (Jacksonville) takes the field today against top-ranked Cambridge Christian (Tampa), in the FHSAA Class 2A state football championship game at The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, it will mark the first of three title games this weekend for Duval County.
Never before have there been three teams from Duval County to play for it all in the same year. For the past four years, two Jacksonville teams have played for a state title, but the area took home just one championship each time.
Bolles (Jacksonville) and Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) won state titles in 2002, which was the only time the county had two state champions in the same season.
The private schools have had the most success for Duval County, with Bolles leading the way with an FHSAA record 11 state championships. This season, the Bulldogs run for a fifth straight state championship game appearance ended in the Class 4A Regional Finals with a 34-8 loss to District 2 champion Raines (Jacksonville), which will play for the 4A state title on Saturday against Booker T. Washington (Miami).
The other county team still playing, Trinity Christian (Jacksonville), is looking to do what no other team from Jacksonville has done – win three in a row. It would also put them in some elite company, joining teams like Union County (Lake Butler), Miami Central and Miami Booker T. Washington as three-time state champions.
The Conquerors, who have won five state titles overall, all under head coach Verlon Dorminey, are playing for the three-peat on Saturday in Class 3A against American Heritage (Delray Beach), which lost to Trinity Christian in last year’s state title game.
Meanwhile, the Fightin’ Christians, who won the state title in 2012, have gotten it done this year with defense and the running of Hussein Howe, who is closing in on 5,000 yards for his career. Howe, who has 81 career touchdowns, needs 165 yards to reach that mark.
In the state semifinal’s win against Victory Christian (Lakeland), the UCS defense allowed minus-88 yards, which is a state record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a state playoff game, according to Richard Burton, who compiles Florida high school statistics and records. In fact, they have allowed zero yards rushing over three playoff games.
If defense wins championship, then they are headed to their 8th state title, which would tie St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) for the second most all-time.
Earlier this season Trinity Christian defeated University Christian in what was then a matchup of the top ranked teams in Classes 3A & 2A, respectively.
“They are really good,” Dorminey said. “They fly around the football. They’ve got some great backs. I look for them to win big on Friday afternoon. I think they will take the 2A state championship easily.”
The team with the toughest challenge this weekend could be Raines. Their opponent, Booker T. Washington, is looking for its fourth straight state title.
Raines won its first and only state title in 1997. However, the Vikings (12-1) are the only Duval County public school to win a state football title.
“We’re carrying that banner for everybody, we want to represent every school in the Gateway Conference and we want to represent it well,” Raines coach Deran Wiley told the Florida Times-Union. “I think the word is consistent, not have a long absence. We’ve been absent for 18 years. That’s not good for me.”