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December 16, 2012
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Three leftover thoughts from the final weekend of the 2012 FHSAA state football championships...
If you didn't see the Class 8A title game, go out of your way to do so.
Apopka's 53-50 victory against Weston Cypress Bay may have been the greatest championship game ever played in Florida, and if it wasn't, it is top-5.
One caveat, if you are a fan of defensive dominance, this isn't for you. But if you love edge-of-your-seat action, this one is can't-miss.
Also, Lightning senior wide receiver Alex Montgomery made two of the more spectacular touchdown catches you might ever see. The one-handed grabs made SportsCenter and were reminiscent of Dez Bryant (when he is healthy and motivated). I've got a feeling Montgomery, who already has a nice set of scholarship offers, is going to start hearing from a few more schools in the not-too-distant future.
2. Miami Central made a risk worth taking.
Loading up with the nation's toughest schedule has the potential to add injury and crush optimism even in extremely talented teams, like the Rockets.
But this group proved to be as mentally tough as it was physically gifted and overcame early-season losses to Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and Bradenton Manatee to win the 6A title.
Next year, look for much of the same, though with Central being the favorite (and likely winner) in those early-season showcase games.
3. Who would win a tournament of champions?
The consensus (though hardly unanimous) opinion I got from media in attendance is that while 3A champ University School finished the year as the state's only unbeaten team, 7A winner St. Thomas Aquinas ended it as the best.
The Raiders had losses to Don Bosco Prep and Miramar that I was told by a neutral observer very well could have been (and perhaps should have been) wins. The DBP game saw STA have an unlikely series of special teams breakdowns, while the MHS contest saw the Raiders victimized by a poor non-touchdown call.
And with back-to-back defeats of the nation's No. 1 team (Manatee) and arguably its fastest (Tallahassee Lincoln), both in relatively easy fashion, St. Thomas (which put up a state finals record 604 yards against the Trojans) would have to be the favorite in an 8-team field.
How would I seed it? With apologies to 1A champ Bratt Northview and 2A winner University Christian, which had a wonderful runs but would require too much to ask them to play with the much larger schools, my bracket would look like this (only finalists would be eligible, and Gainesville got the final spot over Bolles, Immokalee, Madison County and Lincoln due to overall body of work and one head-to-head):
(1) University School vs. (8) Gainesville
(4) Miami Booker T. Washington vs. (5) Apopka
(2) St. Thomas Aquinas vs. (7) Tallahassee Godby
(3) Miami Central vs. (6) Weston Cypress Bay
(Note that the 6 and 7 seeds could be reversed, but they were set up this way in order to avoid a repeat STA-Cypress Bay matchup.)
My thought is that the seedlings would hold up until the final (with BTW-Apopka finishing with a 67-64 score - ha ha) where STA would edge University School for a shiny gold belt that CM Punk might even say was pretty cool.