Gainesville – There is one word that describes the preseason football Prep Zone Power Poll – balance.
Seven different teams received a first-place vote, including the Class 8A First Coast (Jacksonville) Buccaneers, who are the No. 1 team heading into 2013. Plus, a total of 13 teams are receiving votes, including 2A Warner Christian (Daytona Beach) and 1A Union County (Lake Butler) – both of whom are ranked in the top three of the AP’s state football poll in their respective classes.
The ‘Bucs, who finished 10-1 but were upset by Buchholz (Gainesville) 10-7 in last year’s 7A regional quarterfinals, had enough second and third-place votes to get the top spot in the preseason poll. They move up to Class 8A this fall.
Columbia (Lake City), which also received a first-place vote, is ranked second. The Tigers, who lost in the 6A regional final last season to Navarre, open up the 2013 season this Friday night against last year’s 6A state runner-up, Gainesville.
Bolles (Jacksonville) was the 4A state runner-up a year ago and the 2011 state champion under Hall of Fame coach Corky Rogers, who has won more high school football championships than any other coach in Florida. The Bulldogs also garnered a first-place vote and are third in the poll.
Madison County, 3A state runners-up the last two seasons, is moving up to 4A for 2013. The Cowboys also grabbed a first-place vote and come in at #4.
Rounding out the top five is Fletcher (Neptune Beach), who moves down to Class 7A after making the state semifinals and regional final the last two years in Class 8A. The Senators also received a first-place vote.
Leading off the second five is Gainesville, who didn’t receive a first-place vote coming off a 14-1 season and state championship game loss to Miami Central. The Canes’ season gets off to a tough start with a trip to Lake City to play second-ranked Columbia this Friday night.
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) also received a first-place vote and is seventh, followed by St. Augustine, Raines (Jacksonville), Mainland (Daytona Beach) and Trinity Catholic (Ocala) to round out the top 10. Mainland and Trinity Catholic are tied for 10th.
Last year’s 2A state champion University Christian is ranked #12. The Christians were the seventh and final team to receive a first-place vote in the poll. University Christian was a surprise last year as it won its 8th state title in program history, but they are ranked #1 in the AP state poll to begin the season.
The 1A state runner-up in 2012, Trenton, is tied for 17th, while Vanguard (Ocala) rounds out the poll at #20.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.
PREP ZONE POWER POLL – PRESEASON FOOTBALL 2013
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification and total voting points)
1. First Coast (Jacksonville) (1) (8A) – 128
2. Columbia (Lake City) (1) (6A) – 114
3. Bolles (Jacksonville) (1) (4A) – 113
4. Madison County (1) (4A) – 112
5. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (1) (7A) – 103
6. Gainesville (6A) – 92
7. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1) (3A) – 87
8. St. Augustine (6A) – 82
9. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) – 61
10T Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) – 59
10T Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) – 59
12. University Christian (Jacksonville) (1) (2A) – 56
13. South Sumter (Bushnell) (5A) – 48
14. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) – 42
15. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) – 39
16. New Smyrna Beach (6A) – 35
17T Trenton (1A) – 29
17T Fleming Island (Orange Park) (7A) – 29
17T DeLand (8A) – 29
20. Vanguard (Ocala) (6A) – 27
Also receiving votes: Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) – 25; Warner Christian (Daytona Beach) (2A) – 17; Ponte Vedra (5A) – 16; North Marion (Sparr) (5A) – 13; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) – 12; Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (8A) – 9; Buchholz (Gainesville) (7A) – 8; Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) – 6; Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) – 6; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) – 5; Ribault (Jacksonville) (5A) – 4; Mount Dora (5A) – 4; Eastside (Gainesville) (5A) – 1.