Raines (Jacksonville) finishes on top of regional all-classification rankings after defending 4A state title
GAINESVILLE — The Raines (Jacksonville) Vikings ended the 2018 high school football season exactly where they started.
That being state champions, and also at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll.
Raines started the season as the preseason #1 team in the all-classification regional rankings, but they dropped from the top spot after losing their opening game to Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville), 16-15.
The Vikings (13-1) never lost again, repeating as 4A state champions after knocking off Cocoa for the second year in a row in the state championship, this time by a score of 27-13 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
The Vikings received seven of the nine first-place votes after their defense dominated in the postseason, allowing only 22 points in four playoff wins over Marianna, RV West Nassau (Callahan), #14 Dunnellon, and then Cocoa in the state championship game.
For the first time in the history of Duval County Public Schools, there is another state champion in football besides Raines. And that is the team who finishes 2nd in the final poll, the 8A state champion Mandarin (Jacksonville) Mustangs.
Mandarin finished the regular season 6-4, with all the losses coming to playoff teams – #1 Raines, #7 Robert E. Lee, Godby (Tallahassee), and #T-16 Fletcher (Neptune Beach). But the Mustangs (11-4) rolled through the 8A playoffs, winning two games at home against #20 DeLand, and Riverview (Sarasota) in the state semifinals, while picking up two wins on the road at Winter Park and Wekiva (Apopka).
In the state championship game in Orlando, Alabama commit Carson Beck passed for five touchdowns and Mandarin held off a late two-point conversion attempt to edge Columbus (Miami), 37-35, for the school’s first state title of any kind. Beck ended up with 41 touchdown passes on the season.
Mandarin moved up from 9th in the previous poll and received the other two first-place votes.
Finishing #3 is the third state champion in The Prep Zone’s coverage area, 1A Madison County.
The Cowboys (13-1) rolled to their second consecutive 1A title, outscoring their four playoff opponents by a combined 171-40. Madison County handed #T-8 Hawthorne its only loss of the season, 24-0, in the state semifinals, then rushed for nearly 400 yards in rolling Baker, 48-6, in the 1A title game.
This is the fourth state title for Madison County in school history. The Cowboys’ only loss was 48-24 at 7A Columbia (Lake City).
Madison County moved up three spots from the previous poll.
North Marion (Citra) finishes 4th after advancing to its first state championship game appearance in 5A. The Colts (12-3) won at Zephryhills in the regional semifinals, and at #10 Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) in a regional final.
Then in the state semifinals, the Colts pulled the stunner of the postseason, scoring with 20 seconds left to win 29-25 at then-#1 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville).
In the 5A state championship game, North Marion led Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale), 10-3, early in the game but lost senior quarterback Corey Wilsher to a leg injury and couldn’t score after that.
Rounding out the top five is Trinity Christian (Jacksonville). The Conquerors (13-1) were the top-ranked team in the previous seven polls, but drop to #5 in the final poll after the 5A state semifinal loss to North Marion.
Vanguard (Ocala) drops three spots to finish 6th. The Knights (12-1) were unbeaten until the 6A regional final, where they were eliminated 31-6 by eventual state runner-up Armwood (Seffner).
Robert E. Lee ends up 7th.
The Generals (10-2) avenged a regular season loss to district rival Columbia by winning in Lake City, 31-27, in the 7A regional semifinals. Lee was eliminated in the region final, 41-7, by Edgewater (Orlando).
Columbia finishes 8th. The Tigers (10-2) were 2nd in the previous poll, but dropped six spots after losing in the 7A regional semifinals.
Hawthorne ends up at #9. The Hornets (12-1) were unbeaten until travelling to Boot Hill in the state semifinals, and with quarterback Kahliel Jackson playing with a high ankle sprain, Hawthorne was blanked by the eventual 1A state champion Madison County.
Rounding out the top 10 is Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville). The Sharks (11-2) stayed put at #10 after advancing to the regional final, where they were eliminated, 29-22, by eventual 5A state runner-up #4 North Marion.
Nature Coast Tech led the state in rushing, led by senior Mike Weston, who ran for nearly 2,900 yards and an eye-popping 34 touchdowns.
New to the poll is Dunnellon.
The Tigers (8-6) advanced to the 4A state semifinals, where they were shutout 48-0 by eventual state champion Raines. Dunnellon finishes #14, as they knocked off Santa Fe and #13 The Villages on the road during their playoff run.
Dropping out from the previous poll are then-#19 Buchholz (Gainesville), along with Chiefland and West Nassau (Callahan), which were tied for 20th previously.
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 and it is powered by Strive Fitness.
THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2018 FOOTBALL FINAL POLL #14 (FINAL)
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, final 2018 record and total voting points)
1. Raines (Jacksonville) (4A) (7) (13-1) – 177
2. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (8A) (2) (11-4) – 168
3. Madison County (1A) (13-1) – 157
4. North Marion (Citra) (5A) (12-3) – 153
5. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (5A) (13-1) – 145
6. Vanguard (Ocala) (6A) (12-1) – 132
7. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (7A) (10-2) – 131
8. Columbia (Lake City) (7A) (10-2) – 117
9. Hawthorne (1A) (12-1) – 103
10. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (5A) (11-2) – 96
11. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (8-5) – 68
12. Menendez (St. Augustine) (5A) (8-3) – 62
13. The Villages (4A) (11-1) – 53
14. Dunnellon (4A) (8-6) – 50
15. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (7A) (7-4) – 40
16. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (8-5) – 34
17. Ponte Vedra (5A) (8-3) – 32
18. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (7-5) – 29
19. DeLand (8A) (8-3) – 28
20. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (6A) (7-4) – 26
Also receiving votes: P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (10-2) – 15; West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (9-3) – 13; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (7-3) – 12; Chiefland (1A) (10-2) – 10; Flagler Palm Coast (8A) (7-4) – 8, Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (7-3) – 7; Crescent City (1A) (9-3) – 6; Lake Weir (Ocala) (6A) (8-4) – 6; Taylor County (Perry) (3A) (7-6) – 6; Buchholz (Gainesville) (7A) (7-4) – 4.