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Prep Zone Power Poll 2014 – Countdown to #1 (No. 3)

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3We’re counting down to the #1 team in the preseason football Prep Zone Power Poll with a look today at No. 3.

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. 3 First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (11-2) 

Marty Lee’s team went 2-1 in the 8A state playoffs last year, losing to eventual 8A state runners-up Apopka, 42-20, in the regional finals.  They had wins over Lake Mary and Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs) in the postseason, along with wins over Fletcher (Neptune Beach), Sandalwood (Jacksonville) and Ed White (Jacksonville) in the regular season.  Annually, the Buccaneers are a threat to play deep into the postseason, including a run to the 7A state title game in 2011.

The offense will be tough to stop.  Senior Quarterback De’Andre Johnson (3,007 passing yards, responsible for 40 TDs in 2013), an FSU commit, is poised for the best season in his career and will have the luxury of throwing to three future FBS receivers.  Tristan Payton, who had 50 catches for 857 yards and seven TD’s, committed to USC this month after originally committing to Florida; Jerad Washington (48 receptions, 620 yards, 8 TD’s) is committed to South Carolina; and, sophomore D.J. Matthews, who had 47 catches for 624 yards and 7 TD’s as a freshman, continues to draw a lot of interest from D-I schools.  Potentially, this could be the best offensive unit in program history. Junior Hussein Howe, a transfer from University Christian, could step in as the leading tailback.

Although there will be some growing pains on the defensive line, the Buccaneers defense should be solid.  Inside linebacker Sherrod Pittman, a South Carolina commit and ESPN’s No. 204 overall recruit, will be one of the leaders on defense.  Fletcher, Sandalwood, Ed White and Raines (Jacksonville) are on the schedule, but the Bucs, ranked No. 4 in the Class 8A preseason AP state poll, have the talent to run the table during the regular season and make another lengthy run in the playoffs.

Some info gathered from Friday Night Football magazine.

Prep Zone Power Poll – 2014 Football Poll #1 – PRESEASON POLL
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification, 2013 final record and total voting points)

2. TBA – August 26
3. First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (11-2) – 181
4. South Sumter (Bushnell) (5A) (12-1) – 162
5. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (10-4) – 157
6. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (10-2) – 139
7. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (7A) (10-3) – 134
8. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (10-5) – 116
9. Trenton (1A) (12-1) – 111
10. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (9-3) – 92
11. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (7A) (10-1) – 89
12. North Marion (Citra) (5A) (9-3) – 78
13T Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) (10-1) – 69
13T Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (8-4) – 69
15. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (8-6) – 56
16. Springstead (Spring Hill) (6A) (11-2) – 52
17. St. Augustine (6A) (8-3) – 46
18. Ed White (Jacksonville) (6A) (8-3) – 31
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.

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