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November 15, 2012

Roundtable state championship discussion

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Between us, we have covered high school football in the state of Florida for more than eight decades.

So, we've all seen numerous great teams through the years.

Who will be the FHSAA state champions in 2012?

Here are the answers the Orlando Sentinel's Buddy Collings, ESPN's Corey Long, FlaVarsity.com publisher Steve Berrey and I came up with, classification by classification.

Class 1A

This one was pretty much split down the middle.

Corey likes Union County, and Steve believes the winner of the potential UCHS-Trenton third-round matchup will hoist the trophy.

Buddy and I believe Monticello Jefferson County, yes the 3-7 Tigers, will repeat as state champs.

Buddy sez: I stuck with the talented Tigers so long in state poll voting (through their 5-5 regular season of 2011 and 1-7 start this year) that the AP called to see if either my logic or laptop had crashed. I'm still not ready to abandon ship. Made me look great last year. Might look silly this time if they get toasted by top-ranked Trenton (10-0) on Friday. Northview is strong, but the South is stacked with Union County (10-0), Lafayette (8-2) and Newberry (7-3) all legit state title threats.

Class 2A

Corey, Buddy and I are going with Tallahassee North Florida Christian to take the 2A title, while Steve believes either Jacksonville University Christian or Belle Glade Glades Day will finish with the hardware in hand.

Corey sez: Much like last year it'll be clear that NFC looks like a high school bully picking on elementary school kids in 2A.

Class 3A

Corey and I are going with University School, while Buddy is taking Delray Beach American Heritage. Hedging his bets is Steve who simply is going with the University-AH second-round winner.

John sez: There appear to be two elite teams in this class, University School and American Heritage. It is unfortunate they won't meet with the championship on the line. I'm going with the Suns based solely on often-wrong football math: Cocoa defeated the Stallions, 25-7, in a preseason game, while University blitzed CHS, 49-3, on Sept. 14.

Class 4A

We pretty much all agree with Buddy, who writes "Book it for Booker T." And if Miami's Booker T. Washington does win the state title, I've always thought the players should insist on WWE Smackdown general manager Booker T's theme music to play over the loudspeakers.

Steve sez: Booker T. and Jacksonville Bolles have to be considered the favorites here. I'd suggest keeping an eye on Cocoa and Bushnell South Sumter with Jacksonville Raines as a darkhorse.

Class 5A

Plantation American Heritage was the unanimous selection to come out of the South with Buddy and I picking the Patriots to win it all.

Corey has AH falling to Tampa Robinson in the final, while Steve lists American Heritage-Wakulla as his championship matchup.

Corey sez: Dream scenario for Robinson head coach and all-around good guy Mike DuPue in his final year as Robinson's head coach. American Heritage looks like the breakthrough team in 5A south.

Buddy adds: Sonny Michel and an underrated team pull it off to spoil the curtain call for Robinson coach Michael DePue. This one is a crapshoot though. I could see the Godby vs. Wakulla survivor taking the prize, and the sleeper list goes on and on.

Class 6A

All four of us pick Miami Central to capture the championship with three of us having the Rockets defeat Gainesville in the title game. Corey goes with a Central-Largo final.

John sez: I'm going to get some heat for this one, but it is the truth. In my 11 football seasons at The Gainesville Sun, there wasn't a single state football champion among the 32 schools I covered. So, I'm in a "prove it" mode. That said, GHS is awfully good, and if anyone can break the spell, it is this group of Hurricanes. Still, I'm going with Miami Central getting a payoff from the nation's toughest schedule.

Class 7A:

No disrespect meant to anyone else, but we all agree this is Bradenton Manatee's to lose, as coach Joe Kinnan may very well have the best team in the nation. That said, Corey and Buddy give Fort Pierce Central an outside shot at pulling off the upset.

Steve sez: This belongs to Manatee... period. Keep an eye on Tallahassee Lincoln, Jacksonville First Coast, Fort Pierce Central and Kissimmee Osceola with Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Lakeland lingering as darkhorses.

Class 8A

Buddy and I are taking Tampa Plant here, though with different finals' opponents (in a gut pick I have district runner-up Miramar, while he's going with more conventional Miami Columbus).

Corey has Orlando Dr. Phillips beating Columbus, while Steve has the Plant-DP winner facing off with Weston Cypress Bay.

Buddy sez: Anybody who thinks the biggest class is best isn't paying attention. That said, Plant coach Robert Weiner has playoff football mastered and he'll get his guys through a landmine in the North. I'm not crazy about Columbus, but somebody has to come out of the South. I do think Dr. Phillips and its nasty defense has a shot, with Plant coming to Orlando for round two.

Corey adds: There are several upset potentials throughout this bracket so this is as much a crap shoot as anything. Columbus has become a better team thanks to a tough schedule and Dr. Phillips, if it can get by Plant, would be considered a favorite down the stretch.



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