Raines (Jacksonville) finishes atop regional rankings after state championship season
GAINESVILLE — Five teams in The Prep Zone Power Poll area played for a state championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, with two schools bringing home the title.
Finishing at the top is a Duval County public school that once again made history.
Raines (Jacksonville) won the first state football championship for a Duval County public school in 1997. Twenty years later, the Vikings (13-1) repeated the feat, capturing the 4A state championship with a 13-10 win over defending state champion Cocoa.
They captured six of the eight first-place votes to finish at #1 for the first time in the poll.
Raines ripped off 13 wins in a row after an opening week 20-16 loss at #15 Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville), and rolled through regional opponents North Bay Haven (Panama City), #19 West Nassau (Callahan) and #11 Bradford (Starke) by a combined 153-28, advancing to their second 4A state title game appearance in three seasons.
The Vikings lost that game in 2015 to Booker T. Washington (Miami), but finished the job this time, scoring halfway through the fourth quarter and using defense to knock off the Tigers. Cocoa had averaged 315 yards rushing a game coming into the championship, but Raines held the Tigers to only 78 yards on the ground.
Finishing second is the other state champion in the region, Madison County.
The Cowboys (14-0) capped off a perfect season with a 35-20 win over Blountstown to win the 1A state title. It was the third state championship for Madison County, and its first since 2001 for Coach Mike Coe’s bunch.
Madison County rolled through Union County (Lake Butler), #13 Dixie County (Cross City), and Pahokee in the regional playoffs. They received the other two first-place votes after capping off an undefeated season that included wins over playoff teams 5A Wakulla (Crawfordville), 3A Florida High (Tallahassee), 7A #20 Columbia (Lake City), 4A #14 Dunnellon, 2A state runner-up #9 University Christian (Jacksonville) and 5A Rickards (Tallahassee).
Class 7A state runner-up Bartram Trail (St. Johns) moves up three spots from the previous poll and finishes #3.
The Bears (11-4) advanced to their first state championship game in school history, but came up short 37-24 to Venice in Orlando. Bartram Trail won four postseason home games against East Ridge (Clermont), Lincoln (Tallahassee), #8 Fleming Island (Orange Park), and Plant (Tampa), but could not overcome a 34-3 deficit in the state title game despite a late rally.
Two teams finished tied for fourth, St. Augustine and Vanguard (Ocala).
They were tied for the top spot in the previous poll, but both were eliminated on the road against eventual 6A state runner-up Armwood (Seffner).
St. Augustine easily won its first three regional playoff games at home against Tate (Cantonment), Navarre, and Crestview by a combined score of 150-63. But the Yellow Jackets (12-1) hit the road for the state semifinal to Hillsborough County, and there the season came to an end 30-6 against a dominant Armwood defense.
Vanguard defeated Gainesville and Mitchell (New Port Richey) in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but saw its season end with a 31-17 loss at Armwood in which the Knights made a late rally. The Knights (11-1) had been ranked #1 in the previous six polls.
Finishing sixth is another state runner-up, Baker County (Glen St. Mary).
The Wildcats (13-2) made their first state championship game appearance too, but were beaten soundly in the 5A title game by American Heritage (Plantation), 44-15.
Baker County dropped its first game of the regular season at St. Augustine, and then ripped off 13 wins in a row to advance to Orlando, winning 48-28 in the Panhandle against West Florida (Pensacola) in the state semifinal.
But nationally-ranked American Heritage was too much for the Wildcats in the title game, rolling to a 37-0 halftime lead and playing with a running clock in the second half. American Heritage was the only school to repeat as state champions in 2017.
Coming in 7th is Trinity Christian (Jacksonville).
The Conquerors (9-4) saw their bid for a state record fifth consecutive state title end with a 24-14 loss at West Florida in a 5A regional final.
Fleming Island (Orange Park) moves up three spots to finish 8th.
Two of the three losses for the Golden Eagles (10-3) came to Bartram Trail, including a 38-13 loss to the Bears in the 7A regional final. They won two playoff games on the road before that, 31-26 at #15 Lee and 23-7 at Edgewater (Orlando).
Moving up five spots and back into the top 10 at #9 is 2A state runner-up University Christian.
The Christians (10-3) advanced back to Orlando but their bid for a three-peat in 2A came up short with a 24-7 loss to Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah).
Rounding out the top 10 is Clay (Green Cove Springs).
The 10th-ranked Blue Devils (9-4) won two wild games in their first two playoff games, 41-37 at Hernando (Brooksville) and 52-49 at Zephyrhills, but were beaten by Baker County for the second time this season, 29-14, in a 5A region final.
Among the highlights of the second 10 is Bradford (Starke), which moved up five spots to finish 11th. The Tornadoes (10-2) knocked off Keystone Heights and #14 Dunnellon in their first two games before being eliminated in the 4A state semifinal by eventual state champion Raines.
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 Central 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. It is powered by Strive Fitness.
The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Strive Fitness – 2017 Football Poll #14 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, overall record, and total voting points)
1. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (6) (13-1) – 158
2. Madison County (1A) (2) (14-0) – 149
3. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (11-4) – 138
T-4. St. Augustine (6A) (12-1) – 131
T-4. Vanguard (Ocala) (6A) (11-1) – 131
6. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (13-2) – 130
7. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (5A) (9-4) – 107
8. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (7A) (10-3) – 87
9. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (10-3) – 83
10. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (9-4) – 78
11. Bradford (Starke) (4A) (10-2) – 77
12. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (7-4) – 73
13. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (11-1) – 72
14. Dunnellon (4A) (8-3) – 59
15. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (7A) (9-2) – 50
16. Flagler Palm Coast (8A) (9-1) – 38
17. Menendez (St. Augustine) (5A) (8-4) – 37
18. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (8-3) – 35
19. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (9-2) – 18
20. Columbia (Lake City) (7A) (7-4) – 15
Also receiving votes: Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (8A) (8-2) – 8; Matanzas (Palm Coast) (6A) (6-4) – 3; Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (9-2) – 2; Wildwood (1A) (9-1) – 1.