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The Prep Zone Insider – Tuesday, Sept. 27


PZ - square(white)By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Big changes are coming to the high school football playoff system for the 2017 season in Florida.

On Monday, the Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors approved by a vote of 14-2 the new playoff format which would take effect statewide before the high school football season next fall.

The new playoff system means districts for Classes 1A-4A will be eliminated starting in 2017, and those classifications will have 16 playoff teams but will be broken up into regions with a new point system determining four at-large playoff teams.

Classes 5A-8A will still have district champs, while also having the four at-large teams advancing to regional playoffs based on a point system. That point system will also help decide how district champs are seeded.

FHSAA board member Bobby Johns, the athletic director at Bradford (Starke), made a motion to amend the original plan and keep districts in 1A-4A. This plan was supported by many of the coaches and athletic directors of the 1A, or rural classification, schools.

Head football coaches Mike Coe of Madison County and Greg Jordan of Blountstown spoke for the amended plan, while coaches Ronny Pruitt of Union County (Lake Butler), Richard Vester of Newberry, and Corey Green of 4A Bradford were also on hand for the meeting. The major criticism by coaches Coe and Jordan was it would be very difficult for these 1A schools to schedule 10 games without districts, and they would be forced to play bigger 5A schools. But when the board came to a vote, this proposal was defeated 14-2.

The board then voted to approve the original plan to eliminate the districts in those classes. This new playoff format was developed by FHSAA football director Frank Beasley, who is a former head football coach at Dunnellon and Columbia. Beasley told Larry Savage of the Gainesville Sun this new format actually should make it easier for small schools to schedule games.

“It allows, from the smaller schools’ standpoint, the schools to control their schedule,” said Beasley, who was recently on Steve Russell’s radio show in Gainesville. “It puts power back in schools. It creates more exciting playoffs. It rewards teams who play a strong schedule. There are going to be some negatives, and we are aware of that. We will continue to work and tweak it as we move forward. Every game you play is going to count, from week 1 to week 11.”

Beasley added of the now 92 schools playing football as an independent, over 30 indicated to him they would return if the original proposal passed.

This change is being brought about to change the current playoff system to eliminate teams with losing records who make the playoffs from two and three-team districts, and reward teams who play challenging schedules with the point system. Last year, Eastside (Gainesville) made the postseason with a 1-9 record, but their only win over district rival Belleview qualified the Rams for the playoffs as a runner-up in three-team District 6-5A. Eastside lost its opening round playoff game at Clay (Green Cove Springs), 44-0.


The FHSAA held its annual Hall of Fame Dinner this past Sunday night at the UF Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Gainesville.  Among the the 10 new members inducted included Floyd Williams, a long-time official and coach in the Sumter County school district and in Central Florida, and former Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) baseball coach and athletic director Bob West.

West won 532 games in 23 years as the Crusaders head baseball coach with 16 district titles, 10 trips to the Final Four and one state championship in 2002. He retired as baseball coach in 2005, but remained Kenny’s athletic director until this past June, when he retired from that job after 27 years with the school. West also served for seven years on the FHSAA Board of Directors and was the president of the board in the 2013-2014 school year.


Believe it or not, we are at the halfway point of the high school football season. Not all teams are playing district games this week, but here are some key games coming up for week 6, including our two radio broadcasts for this week in Gainesville.

Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (4-0, 1-0) at Flagler Palm Coast (1-3, 0-0)
DeLand (1-4, 0-1) at Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (2-3, 0-1)
Mandarin (Jacksonville) (4-0, 1-0) – OFF

University (Orange City) (3-2, 0-2) at Lyman (Longwood) (2-3, 1-1).

Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (1-4, 0-1) at Lee (Jacksonville) (2-1, 1-0)
First Coast (Jacksonville) (2-2, 0-0) at Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (5-0, 1-0)
Columbia (Lake City) (2-3. 0-1) – OFF

Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (3-2, 1-0) at Creekside (0-4, 0-1)
Oakleaf (Orange Park) (3-2, 0-1) at Fleming Island (Orange Park) (3-1, 0-1)
Buchholz (Gainesville) (3-1, 1-0) – OFF

East Ridge (Clermont) (2-2, 0-1) at Lake Minneola (0-4, 0-2)
West Port (Ocala) (1-2, 1-1) at Edgewater (Orlando)(0-4, 0-1)

Englewood (Jacksonville) (0-5, 0-1) at St. Augustine (4-1, 1-0)
Middleburg (2-3, 1-0) at Ed White (Jacksonville) (2-2, 1-0)
Nease (Ponte Vedra) (1-3, 0-1) – OFF

wygc_logo 104.9Forest (Ocala) (4-0, 1-0) at Gainesville (2-2, 1-0) – Forest escaped with a 20-18 win over Eastside (Gainesville) last week on a 41-yard field goal by Connor Davis with 3:15 left. Now the Wildcats travel to Citizens Field for a big district match-up against Gainesville.

The Purple Hurricanes have won their last two games, including their district opener 45-0 at Lake Weir two weeks ago, and last week got a 54-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback back Dustin Johnson to Isaiah Wilson with a minute and a half left to slip past North Marion, 22-21.

Fox Sports Radio Gainesville and OcalaForest, which won its district opener 51-6 against Leesburg, will try to knock off Gainesville for the first time since 1993. GHS leads the series, 14-7. We’ll have two radio crews for this big district game, which will air Friday night at 7 p.m. on AM 900/FM 100.1 in Ocala and AM 1230 & 104.9 FM in Gainesville. Also ‘live’ and ‘archived’ streaming audio at www.ThePrepZone.com

Vanguard (Ocala) (4-0, 0-0) at Leesburg (0-5, 0-1)
Lake Weir (1-3) at Belleview (2-1)

Springstead (Spring Hill) (2-1, 1-0) at Sunlake (Land O’Lakes) (4-0, 0-0)

Matanzas (Palm Coast) (4-0, 1-0) at New Smyrna Beach (2-3, 0-1)
Deltona (4-1, 1-0) at Mainland (Daytona Beach) (5-0, 1-0)
Seabreeze (Daytona Beach) (0-5, 0-1) at Pine Ridge (Deltona) (1-3, 0-1)

Ribault (Jacksonville) (2-2, 1-0) at Stanton (Jacksonville) (1-3, 0-0)
Paxon (Jacksonville) (2-3, 0-1) at Suwannee (Live Oak) (2-3, 0-1)
Episcopal (Jacksonville) (5-0) at Yulee (3-1)

Ponte Vedra (4-0, 1-0) at Westside (Jacksonville) (1-3, 0-1)
Parker (Jacksonville) (2-2, 0-0) at Wolfson (Jacksonville) (0-5, 0-1)
Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (3-2, 1-0) – OFF

Ridgeview (Orange Park) (0-5, 0-1) at Orange Park (3-1, 0-1)
Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4-0, 1-0) at Palatka (3-1, 1-0)
Clay (Green Cove Springs) (3-2, 1-0) at Menendez (St. Augustine (1-4, 0-1)

Fox Sports Radio Gainesville and OcalaNorth Marion (Citra) (2-2, 0-0) at Eastside (Gainesville) (0-4, 0-0) – Thursday, 7 p.m. (PREGAME COVERAGE) – This is the district opener for these two teams in this three-team district, so the winner puts the right foot forward towards the postseason while the loser is nearly eliminated. North Marion has dropped games to 6A teams Vanguard and Gainesville, losing last week to the Purple Hurricanes, 22-21, after missing a field goal with 18 seconds to play.

The Colts return to Citizens Field just six days later for the district opener against an Eastside team which is winless, but just missed wins in their last two games, losing to Santa Fe (Alachua) with 17 seconds to play and last week dropping a 20-18 game at Forest on a field goal with 3:15 remaining. This game can be heard on radio on AM 900 and FM 100.1 in Ocala and AM 1230 in Gainesville, along with streaming ‘live’ and ‘archived’ audio online at www.ThePrepZone.com

Lake Weir (1-3) at Belleview (2-1)

Crystal River (1-3, 1-1) at Hernando (Brooksville) (2-2, 1-1)
Weeki Wachee (0-4, 0-1) at Citrus (Inverness (1-3, 1-1)
Central (Brooksville) (2-2, 1-1) at Lecanto (1-2, 0-1)
Lake Wales (0-4) at Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (4-0)

Bolles (Jacksonville) (4-0, 1-0) at West Nassau (Callahan) (2-3, 0-0)
Jackson (Jacksonville) (0-3, 0-1) at Fernandina Beach (2-3, 0-1)
Raines (Jacksonville) (4-0, 1-0) – OFF

Keystone Heights (1-3, 0-0) at P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (0-4, 0-1)
Santa Fe (2-1, 1-0) at Bradford (Starke) (3-1, 1-0)
Interlachen (2-3, 0-1) – OFF

Dunnellon (4-0, 0-0) at Mount Dora (3-1, 1-0)
The Villages (1-3, 0-1) at Umatilla (0-4, 0-1)
South Sumter (Bushnell) (4-0) at Tavares (1-3)

Atlantic (Port Orange) (3-0, 1-0) at Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) (3-1, 0-1)

Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (2-2, 0-0) at Providence (Jacksonville) (1-3, 0-0)
Episcopal (Jacksonville) (5-0) at Yulee (3-1)

Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1-2, 0-0) at The First Academy (Orlando) (4-0, 0-0)
Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) (1-3, 0-0) at Trinity Prep (Winter Park) (0-4, 0-0)

University Christian (Jacksonville) (2-2, 0-0) at Harvest Community (Jacksonville) (2-3, 0-0)
Eagle’s View (Jacksonville) (0-4, 0-0) at Cedar Creek Christian (Jacksonville) (0-4, 0-0)

Halifax Academy (Daytona Beach) (0-3, 0-0) at Warner Christian (South Daytona) (2-2, 0-0)
Trinity Christian (Deltona) (3-1) at Holy Trinity Episcopal (Melbourne) (2-1)

Madison County (4-0, 1-0) at Jefferson County (Monticello) (0-3, 0-1)
Hamilton County (Jasper) (0-4, 0-0) at Bell (2-3, 0-1)
Lafayette (Mayo) (4-0) at Bronson (0-4)

Hawthorne (3-1, 0-1) at Hilliard (3-2, 0-1)
Fort White (2-2, 0-0) at Baldwin (4-1, 1-0)
Clearwater Academy International (3-1) at Union County (Lake Butler) (2-2)

Dixie County (Cross City) (1-2, 1-1) at Williston (2-1, 0-1)
Branford (3-2, 1-1) at Newberry (5-0, 2-0)
Trenton (3-1, 1-0) at Chiefland (2-1, 1-1)
Lafayette (Mayo) (4-0) at Bronson (0-4)

Taylor (Pierson) (2-2, 0-1) at Frostproof (2-3, 0-0)
Crescent City (3-2, 0-1) at Fort Meade (3-2, 1-0)

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