This is the week that everyone has been waiting for since the 2021 high school football season began.
It’s state playoff week across the state of Florida – and while many have their favorites – the best thing about this year is all the new faces who are getting the opportunity to make an impact.
From Homestead to the Palm Beach County line, it will be all about south Florida schools, and any class that you look at, there are programs that have realistic hopes of bringing home that state title.
Defending state champions Sanford Seminole (8A), Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7A), Miami Central (6A – now 5A), Plantation American Heritage (5A), Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (4A), Jacksonville Trinity Christian (3A – now 2A), Hialeah Champagnat Catholic (2A) and Baker (1A) all start the playoffs ready to defend.
As we have done since August, we bring you the top programs in south Florida. Here is the way Week 1 of the state playoffs look like:
1. Miami Central Rockets (5A, 7-2). The playoffs open up this week with a rematch against district foe No. 6 North Miami Beach for the two-time defending state champions, who are a No. 3 seed. NEXT OPPONENT: No. 2 Plantation American Heritage vs. No. 7 Boynton Beach winner.
2. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (7A, 9-1). The playoffs begin for the two-time defending state champions and No. 1 seed at home against No. 8 Delray Beach Atlantic. NEXT OPPONENT: No. 5 Doral Academy and No. 4 Miramar are facing off and the winner will advance.
3. Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Lions (3A, 7-1). The one thing about this program is they are used to being patient and waiting – as they did throughout this impressive season. As the top seed, they will have the week off. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of the first round game between No. 4 Miami Edison and No. 5 Somerset Academy.
4. Miami Killian Cougars (5A, 10-0). It all gets started this week for head coach Derrick Gibson and his undefeated, No. 1 seeded football program with a home game against No. 8 Fort Myers Cypress Lake. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of No. 4 Estero and No. 5 Fort Lauderdale Stranahan.
5. Homestead Broncos (7A, 8-1). Everything gets started for the No. 2 seed at home (Harris Field) against No. 7 Hollywood South Broward. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of this game will get another test – against No. 3 Fort Lauderdale or once beaten No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Dillard.
6. Davie Western Wildcats (8A, 8-2). Coming off a convincing defensive win against Miramar, this No. 1 seed will be at home for a game against No. 8 Parkland Douglas. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner gets eight No. 4 Miami Dr. Krop or No. 5 Miami Christopher Columbus in Round 2.
7. Fort Lauderdale Dillard Panthers (7A, 9-1). After posting another shutout (35-0) in the “Soul Bowl” against Blanche Ely, the No. 6 seed will be on the road for the first round against No. 3 Fort Lauderdale. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner gets either No. 2 Homestead or No. 7 South Broward.
8. Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs (4A, 7-2). With the final week of the regular season postponed, the defending 4A state champs will take this week off as the No. 2 seed. NEXT OPPONENT: They will take on the winner of the No. 3 Miami Immaculata LaSalle and No. 6 Pine Crest game at home.
9. Deerfield Beach Bucks (8A, 8-2). After beating Piper, 42-0, this team has now gone 26 quarters without giving up a touchdown and are very much in this race as a No. 3 seed, who will be at home for a district rematch against No. 6 Boca Raton. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of the No. 2 Miami Palmetto and No. 7 Coral Glades contest.
10. Plantation American Heritage Patriots (5A, 5-3). This has been a strange season for the defending 5A state champions, but the playoffs are here and a first round home game as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 and district foe Boynton Beach. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner will play against No. 6 North Miami Beach or No. 3 Miami Central.
11. Miami Gulliver Prep Raiders (4A, 7-1). Getting a chance to play on the final week was huge for the No. 1 seed that trounced Orlando Bishop Moore and will enjoy this week off. NEXT OPPONENT: It will either be No. 4 Miami Booker T. Washington or No. 5 Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian at home.
12. Miami Christopher Columbus Explorers (8A, 6-3). While this past week was an off week, it gave this program more focus as they hit the road on Friday as a No. 5 seed and No. 4 seed Miami Dr. Krop. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner gets No. 1 Davie Western or No. 8 Parkland Douglas.
13. Miami Northwestern Bulls (6A, 7-3). This football team needed this past week off after a tough loss to rival Miami Central, but as a No. 3 seed, they get a first round home game against Fort Myers. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of this matchup will either play No. 2 seed, unbeaten Naples, or No. 7 Punta Gorda Charlotte.
14. Miami Palmetto Panthers (8A, 7-2). A sound win to end the regular season against playoff-bound Miami Edison was just what this program needed as a No. 2 seed that will be at home against No. 7 Coral Glades. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of this first round matchup will square off against No. 3 Deerfield Beach or No. 6 Boca Raton.
15. Hialeah Champagnat Catholic Lions (2A, 7-2). One of the two programs looking for an amazing sixth straight trip to the state finals, this team used a convincing win over Naples Lely to end the season. As the No. 2 seed, the two-time defending state champs have a bye. NEXT OPPONENT: It will be either No. 3 Belle Glades Day or No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy at home.
16. Miramar Patriots (7A, 6-3). Do not be fooled by the three losses, this is a team that has as good a defense as you will find, and after losing 13-9 to 8A Western, the No. 4 seed will play host to No. 5 Doral Academy. NEXT OPPONENT: The prize for the winner of this game will be either No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas or No. 8 Delray Beach Atlantic.
17. Miami Edison Red Raiders (3A, 6-4). You have to give head coach Luther Campbell and his team for getting in the playoffs by playing a full 10 game schedule – and now they could be a tough out. This week, they will play host to No. 5 Somerset Academy. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of this game will get a shot at No. 1 seed Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna.
18. Miami LaSalle Royal Lions (4A, 10-0). A perfect season for this program and a very rare post season game will await them in the opening round as a No. 3 seed that will host a No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest team that gave them fits earlier in the season. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner gets defending 4A state champion and No. 2 seed Cardinal Gibbons.
19. Hollywood South Broward Bulldogs (7A, 8-1). In putting together one of the best season in years – beating Cooper City last week – the stakes rise with a trip to No. 2 Homestead. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner will take on No. 3 Fort Lauderdale or No. 6 Fort Lauderdale Dillard.
20. Hollywood Avant Garde Academy Sharks (2A, 8-0). As the No. 1 seed, this impressive story continues with a first round bye. NEXT OPPONENT: The winner of the first-round matchup between No. 4 Miami True North Classical and No. 5 Fort Pierce John Carroll.
ALSO KEEP AN EYE ON:
No. 5 South Fort Myers (6A, 8-2) at No. 4 Coconut Creek Cougars (6A, 8-2)
No. 7 Coral Glades Jaguars (8A, 6-2) at No. 2 Miami Palmetto Panthers (8A, 7-2)
No. 5 Doral Academy Firebirds (7A, 8-1) at No. 4 Miramar Patriots (7A, 6-3)
No. 2 Florida Christian Patriots (3A, 8-1), Bye
No. 5 Miami Christopher Columbus Explorers (8A, 6-3) at No. 4 Miami Dr. Krop Lightning (8A, 5-3)
No. 5 Fort Pierce John Carroll (2A, 5-2) at No. 4 Miami True North Titans (2A, 6-3)
TRACKING POSITIONS: Keeping An Eye On The Football Talent In Miami-Dade & Broward Counties Year Round. https://larryblustein.com/prospects/tracking-south-florida-prospects