Having rated teams and players for over a half century, the one thing that we have always bought into is seeing the programs and the athletes live.
While many will pick players and teams on reputation, traveling across the state and also paying attention to every team in Miami-Dade and Broward has not only earned us the respect of coaches and players, but also the fans who watch the games.
This past spring and summer, we were fortunate to see 353 teams statewide and every program in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
When we make our lists each year it is based on a number of factors, and if you have followed us through the years, we make adjustments 19 different times during the course of a year – and reflects the best teams.
With many programs stepping up and playing amazing schedules, it is with that in mind when putting this initial list together.
Like rankings, team lists are subjective and posted by many. We respect those who take the time to promote athletes and teams, but will rely on what we do – often watching these programs from no more than five feet away.
As we stated, these lists will change throughout the course of year, so relax with your opinions. Remember last year, we were 85 percent correct on our first Top 20 to the final one.
Here is the way things start out for 2022 in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties:
1. Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (1M – 2021 Record: 12-1). Winners of four of the past five state titles, tremendous coaching, a challenging schedule and an endless loop of talent. Coach Dameon Jones and the Lions are among the best in the country.
2. Miami Central (2M – 2021 Record: 12-2). Coach Jube Joseph takes over a team that has won three straight state titles and continues to attract talent and provide amazing coaching. The Rockets also will play a challenging schedule once again. This program is loaded and ready for anyone!
3. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (3M – 2021 Record: 14-1). The Raiders and head coach Roger Harriott look toward a national title every year – and despite winning three consecutive state titles – rebuilding is taking place with some tough teams on the schedule. You know that everyone across the country recognizes this powerhouse.
4. Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (2M – 2021 Record: 11-2). The Chiefs have arrived as a state power – and head coach Matt Dubuc and this team return too many playmakers not to be in the mix once again. The schedule is competitive, and the athletes are ready.
5. Miami Northwestern (2M – 2021 Record: 10-4). Sleep on the Bulls and you will make a huge make a mistake. Watched head coach Max Edwards and this team five times during the off-season, and if you think that they are just going to roll over, you do not know this program.
6. Plantation American Heritage (2M – 2021 Record: 6-4). New head coach in place, but the objective is to return to the state title game – after an off-season. Mike Smith’s Patriots are stacked with talent, and with a challenging schedule, things will be interesting.
7. Fort Lauderdale Dillard (3M – 2021 Record: 9-3). Perhaps nobody has improved more than head coach Tyler Tate and the Panthers. After watching them a number of times during the off-season, this is a team that has chance to be special – with returning players and new additions.
8. Davie Western (4M – 2021 Record: 9-3). Take this program lightly and you are making a huge mistake. Another team we have been around during the spring and summer, and head coach Adam Ratkevich and the Wildcats have weapons on both sides of the ball. A team that will have their opportunities to showcase superior talent.
9. Miami Palmetto (4M – 2021 Record: 9-3). After falling short a year ago, head coach Mike Manasco and the Panthers added some pieces that will make them very special. From the spring to the summer, we were fortunate to watch many of those standouts make a name for themselves. Well coached and ready to play.
10. Miami Christopher Columbus (4M – 2021 Record: 9-3). Another team that has made some major changes – and while head coach Dave Dunn and his team rarely bring attention to themselves – the Explorers are stacked with athletes who are capable of accomplishing some big things.
11. Homestead (3M – 2021 Record: 11-2). After losing to eventual state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, the Broncos made some major strides in the off-season, and watching them in the spring and summer, head coach Philip Simpson has surrounded himself with talented players and elite coaches. A team that can climb this ladder – fast.
12. Miami Norland (2M – 2021 Record: 5-5). Another program that has done more to thrust themselves in the spotlight, this is a program that has the chance to surprise plenty of people – as veteran head coach Darryle Heidelburg and the Vikings are going to cause plenty of problems – as we watched them a number of times during the off-season.
13. Coconut Creek (3M – 2021 Record: 9-3). Nobody has watched head coach Johnnie Sloane and the Cougars more than we have this off-season. Talent on both sides of the ball, big time prospects who have grown over the past three years with this program. Defending district champions who are ready once again.
14. Plantation (3M – 2021 Record: 9-3). Just when everyone was ready to give up on the No. 8 seed Colonels a year ago, veteran head coach Steve Davis and this football program upset No. 1 seed Fort Myers Dunbar and beat district champion Coconut Creek. This is a team that always makes a statement.
15. Gulliver Prep (2M – 2021 Record: 11-2). While many are taking veteran head coach Earl Sims for granted, it’s only because of some key losses, but the returning prospects are gifted and ready to make a statement. Another team that has upped its schedule and if the Raiders pass some key tests, it will be very interesting.
16. Fort Lauderdale Stranahan (2M – 2021 Record: 7-4). Another program we were fortunate to watch as head coach Travis Harden and the Dragons added prospects and showcased skills at a number of events. This will be a huge season for a team that is loaded with athletes and promise.
17. Miami Booker T. Washington (2M – 2021 Record: 5-7). Another program that nobody watched in the off-season more than we did – in the spring and throughout the summer as veteran head coaching icon Tim “Ice” Harris returns and has already made some major strides. While the talent is on hand, depth may be an issue for the Tornadoes.
18. Coconut Creek Monarch (4M - 2021 Record: 5-5). Yet another of those programs that has quietly flew under the radar screen as veteran head coach Calvin Davis and the Knights have looked impressive during the off-season, while it prepared for a challenging schedule.
19. North Miami Beach (2M – 2021 Record: 4-6). The fourth most tenured head coach in the state of Florida, Jeff Bertani and the Chargers will be well coaches, discipline and will work harder than anyone on the schedule. The Chargers are always stepping up their schedule and this year will be no exception – as they will travel to the Panhandle as well as to Georgia.
20. Weston Cypress Bay (4M - 2021 - Record: 7-3). It was only a matter of time until the state’s largest school got things back on track as veteran head coach Rocco Casullo has built a very impressive team that has a chance to be really impressive this season. The Lightning have improved everywhere, and that is something that will keep this team in the spotlight.
OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH: Coral Springs Coral Glades (4M), Deerfield Beach (3M), Doral Academy (4M), Fort Lauderdale (3M), Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian (2M), Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy (1M), Hialeah Barbara Goleman (4M), Hollywood Avant Garde (1M), Hollywood South Broward (3M), Miami Belen Jesuit (3M), Miami Dr. Krop (3M), Miami Edison (2M), Miami Gardens Monsignor Pace (2M), Miami Immaculata LaSalle (2M), Miami Jackson (2M), Miami Southridge (3M), Miramar (3M), North Miami (3M), Parkland Douglas (4M), Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy (4M), Pembroke Pines West Broward (4M), Pompano Beach Blanche Ely (3M),Westland Hialeah (2M).
TRACKING SOUTH FLORIDA (MIAMI-DADE & BROWARD) PROSPECTS – CLASSES 2023-2026. https://larryblustein.com/prospects/tracking-south-florida-prospects
MIAMI-DADE AND BROWARD TRANSFERS. https://larryblustein.com/news/transfer-season-continues-in-miami-dade-broward
TRACKING SOUTH FLORIDA FOOTBALL TEAMS. https://larryblustein.com/news/tracking-south-florida-2022