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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – 2023 Football Poll #1 (PRESEASON POLL)

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State runner-up Mainland (Daytona Beach) starts season No. 1

GAINESVILLE — The 2023 high school football season will get underway tonight for most teams in The Prep Zone Power Poll, which ranks the top 20 FHSAA teams regardless of classification among 26 counties in Florida.

Mainland (Daytona Beach), which just missed on a 3S state title last December with a 32-30 heartbreaking loss to Lake Wales in Fort Lauderdale, begins on top of the regional all-classification rankings. Despite only garnering one first-place votes, the Bucs ended up with more points than anyone else to start the 2023 season at No. 1.

The Bucs, who finished 11-4 last year, open the season tonight at rival RV DeLand.

Defending 1R state champion Hawthorne starts the new season 2nd.

Despite receiving seven of the 12 first-place votes, the Hornets are five total points behind Mainland. Hawthorne, which finished 12-0 last year, opens defense of its first state football title in program history at home against Class 3S Middleburg.

Buchholz (Gainesville) is ranked 3rd.

The 4S Bobcats, who are coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances, also received one first-place vote. They must replace head coach Mark Whittemore and quarterback Creed Whittemore, last year’s Florida Mr. Football.

Buchholz faces a tough test to start the 2023 season at No. 10 Columbia (Lake City). The game will be broadcast on 106.9 FM in Gainesville with audio online at IamCountryRadio.com.

Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) is 4th.

The Conquerors, who were knocked off in the Region 1-1M final last season by University Christian (Jacksonville), picked up two first-place votes to start the new season. Trinity Christian will host RV Ed White (Jacksonville) tonight at 7 p.m.

Rounding out the top five is Bartram Trail (St. Johns), which received the final first-place vote.

The Bears, who lost to Buchholz, 21-20, in last year’s 4S-Region 1 Final, brought in Corey Johns to replace long-time head coach Darrell Sutherland, who retired after last season.

University Christian starts off the second five. The Christians knocked off Trinity Christian in the 1M-Region 1 Final but were eliminated by Clearwater Central Catholic in the 1M state semifinal.

University Christian has a tough assignment for its opening game, hosting No. 13 Raines (Jacksonville) at 7:30 p.m.

Bradford (Starke), which lost to eventual 2S state champion Cocoa, 31-21, in a 2S state semifinal game last December, starts this season 7th in The Prep Zone Power Poll.

The Tornadoes also have a tough test to start, hosting rival No. 17 Baker County (Glen St. Mary). Bradford defeated Baker County twice in 2022, including in the Region 1-2S final.

Another state runner-up from last season, Trinity Catholic (Ocala), comes in at No. 8. The Celtics advanced to the 1S state title game in Tallahassee last winter before being knocked off by First Baptist (Naples), 21-3, in the title game.

Bolles (Jacksonville), which hosts No. 20 St. Augustine tonight at 7:30 p.m., is ranked 9th.

The Bulldogs lost four games in the regular season in 2022 and lost the district title to Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville). However, the ‘Dogs got hot in the postseason, knocking off Raines, Bishop Moore (Orlando) and Episcopal (Jacksonville) to advance to the 2M state semifinals, where they lost at American Heritage (Plantation), 21-14.

Rounding out the top 10 is another state semifinalist from a year ago, Columbia. The Tigers defeated Lincoln (Tallahassee), Escambia (Pensacola), and Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach) in the Class 3S regional playoffs before losing 37-7 at eventual state champion Lake Wales in the state semifinals.

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball 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 and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2023 FOOTBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2022 record, and total voting points)
1. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (1) (10-4) – 220
2. Hawthorne (1R) (7) (12-0) – 215
3. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (1) (10-3) – 202
4. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (2) (11-1) – 193
5. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (1) (12-1) – 188
6. University Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (11-2) – 173
7. Bradford (Starke) (2S) (12-2) – 168
8. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (9-3) – 164
9. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-5) – 150
10. Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (9-4) – 123
11. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (8-4) – 111
12. South Sumter (Bushnell) (2S) (12-1) – 76
13. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-3) – 73
14. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (4S) (10-2) – 67
15. Creekside (St. Johns) (4S) (9-3) – 61
16. Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (8-3) – 55
17. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (9-4) – 46
18. Suwannee (Live Oak) (2S) (10-3) – 45
19. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (4M) (5-5) – 31
20. St. Augustine (3S) (7-4) – 27
Also receiving votes: Baldwin (2S) (9-3) – 15; DeLand (4S) (6-5) – 13; Williston (1R) (10-1) – 12; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 9; Newberry (1R) (6-4) – 8; Chiefland (1R) (7-3) – 6; Madison County (1R) (4-7) – 6; Eastside (Gainesville) (2S) (9-3) – 5; Ed White (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-3) – 5; Lafayette (Mayo) (1R) (10-3) – 4; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (3M) (8-3) – 3; Fort White (1R) (6-5) – 1.

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