We’re counting down to the #1 team in the preseason football Prep Zone Power Poll with a look today at No. 19.
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, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.
No. 19 – Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (10-1)
Dixie County makes the preseason top 20 based on its defense and its first state semifinal game appearance since 1971.
Despite losing on a late interception last year, the Bears only lost by three to the defending 1A state champion Trenton Tigers – on the road – and handed Trenton its only loss of the season in 2013.
Several players are gone, like Florida’s Duke Dawson and Shaquille Mitchem, who was a FAMU commit during the season, but the defense is intact and returns defensive tackle Tre Simmons, who had 47 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery last year as a junior.
“He is the best defensive lineman we’ve had at Dixie in my 15 years,” said Wilkerson. “He doesn’t have great stats because everyone is running away from him.”
Linebacker James Horsley, who led the team in tackles, and linebacker Brandon Land, who finished second in tackles and first in sacks are also returning seniors.
Offensively, the Bears should be better in the passing game as Aaron Thomas returns at quarterback. Plus, Julian Robinson, who rushed for almost 900 yards as a sophomore, is back.
“We feel confident,” added Wilkerson. “We have to replace some solid offensive linemen but have some young guys who have to earn their stripes. If our secondary grows up then our defense should be really solid.”
An early season test at Trenton on September 12 will give us an indication of just how good Dixie County could be this season, while a trip to Union County (Lake Butler) on October 3 could decide the Class 1A-District 7 championship.
“If we stick together as a team, we can win a district championship and then state,” said Tyler Corbin, who is a returning starter on the offensive line. “Us seniors have to help the younger guys come together and we can have a great season.”
Prep Zone Power Poll – 2014 Football Poll #1 – PRESEASON POLL
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification, 2013 final record and total voting points)
18. TBA – August 9
19. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (10-1) – 29
20. Warner Christian (South Daytona) (2A) (9-2) – 19
Also receiving votes: University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (9-3) – 18; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (8-3) – 16; Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (10-2) – 14; Gainesville (6A) (9-3) – 9; Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (7-3) – 6; Leesburg (6A) (8-4) – 5; Seabreeze (Daytona Beach) (6A) (7-3)– 4; Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (7-3) – 4; Menendez (St. Augustine) (5A) (8-3) – 4; Fort White (4A) (7-2) – 3; Citrus (Inverness) (6A) (9-2) – 2; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (8-3) – 1.