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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – 2023 Football Poll #14 (FINAL POLL)


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Mainland (Daytona Beach) wins state title to finish of top of regional rankings

GAINESVILLE– An exciting slate of FHSAA state championship games in Tallahassee last week capped another season of high school football in Florida.

And a team that came up just a few points short of a title in 2022 returned to the championship game and this time went home with a trophy.

Mainland (Daytona Beach), which lost to Lake Wales, 32-30, in the 3S title game a year ago, returned to the title game at Bragg Memorial Stadium on the Florida A&M University campus to take on then-No. 2 St. Augustine. The Bucs (14-1) kicked a field goal on the last play of the game to edge the Yellow Jackets, 21-19, and win Mainland’s first state title since 2003.

That allowed Mainland, which was number one for most of the season, to return to the top of the final rankings as the Bucs received nine of the 11 first-place votes. Their other two votes were second-place votes.

Hawthorne, which who won its second consecutive state title by edging No. 8 Madison County, 22-13, in the Class 1R state championship game, finished second. The Hornets (13-0), who advanced to their fourth straight championship game, extended their state-leading winning streak to 25 games and picked up the other two first-place votes.

St. Augustine dropped one spot from the previous poll to finish No. 3. The Yellow Jackets (13-1) advanced to their first state title game since 2007 and led most of the game against Mainland before the Bucs kicked the field goal on the final play of the game. 

Previous No. 1 Buchholz (Gainesville) ends up at No. 4.

The Bobcats (13-1) advanced to the state semifinal round for the third straight year but came up just short of their first state title game appearance since 1990. Buchholz lost at home, 21-20, to Lakeland, which went on to beat Venice, 60-48, in the 4S title game for its second consecutive state championship. 

Rounding out the top five is another state runner-up, Bradford (Starke).

The Tornadoes (14-1), who won a program record 14 games this season, advanced to their first state championship game since 1985.

However, the team that knocked Bradford out in the state semifinals in 2022, Cocoa, defeated the Tornadoes in the 2S title game in Tallahassee to repeat as state champs. Bradford’s historic season came up just short of its first football state title since 1966.

Starting off the second five is another state finalist in Mandarin (Jacksonville).

The Mustangs (11-4) moved up 10 spots from the previous poll after winning four consecutive road games at Winter Park, Lake Mary, Seminole (Sanford), and Monarch (Coconut Creek) to advance to their second state title game appearance.

But unlike 2018 when Mandarin edged Columbus (Miami), 37-35, to win the title, this time the Mustangs came up short, 38-19, against Columbus.

DeLand is ranked seventh. The Bulldogs (11-3) advanced to the 4S state semifinals where they were beaten by Venice, which finished as 4S state runners-up for the second consecutive year to Lakeland.

Madison County ends up 8th after advancing to the 1R state championship game. The Cowboys (10-2) came up short against Hawthorne but still moved up three spots from the previous poll.

South Sumter (Bushnell) (11-2) finished 9th after losing to Cocoa in a 2S regional final, while Class 1R Williston rounds out the top 10.

The Red Devils (11-1) dropped four spots as they were knocked out in the Region 3-1R final by Hawthorne, 34-16.

The highlight of the second 10 is Trinity Catholic (Ocala).

The Celtics, who had a 3-7 regular season with a brutal schedule, defeated defending state champion First Baptist Academy (Naples) to advance to the 1S state championship game for the second straight year.

Although Trinity Catholic came up short for the second straight year, this time to Cardinal Mooney (Sarasota), it was enough to get the Celtics (6-8) into the final poll at No. 17 despite the losing record.

They are the only team new to the rankings this week. The Celtics replace Leesburg, which lost at Lake Wales, 17-10, in the 3S region semifinal.

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.

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2023 record, and total voting points)
1. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (9) (14-1) – 218
2. Hawthorne (1R) (2) (13-0) – 202
3. St. Augustine (3S) (13-1) – 195
4. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (13-1) – 186
5. Bradford (Starke) (2S) (14-1) – 177
6. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (4M) (11-4) – 150
7. DeLand (4S) (11-3) – 144
8. Madison County (1R) (10-2) – 134
9. South Sumter (Bushnell) (2S) (11-2) – 116
10. Williston (1R) (11-1) – 104
11. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (11-3) – 101
12. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (9-4) – 91
13. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (10-2) – 86
14. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (8-5) – 67
15T. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (4S) (9-4) – 66
15T. University (Orange City) (4S) (10-2) – 66
17. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (6-8) – 57
18. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-6) – 53
19. Ponte Vedra (4S) (8-4) – 32
20. Riverside (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-3) – 22
Also receiving votes: Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (8-4) – 9; Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (8-4) – 7; Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (4-6) – 5; Dunnellon (2S) (8-4) – 1; Fort White (1R) (9-2) – 1; Newberry (1R) (9-3) – 1.

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