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At the beginning of August, FlaVarsity.com sat down and evaluated our 'Top 25' by looking at teams to keep an eye on. We continue to evaluate how we did. Who did we miss on and who did we see good things from. The next in the series is Class 6A.
The first four
No. 4 - Armwood - Despite heavy graduation losses and ineligible players, Armwood still deserved the respect of being the 'team to beat' in 6A. With Alvin Bailey and company heavy on the defensive side, we saw this team as the one to beat in 6A.
An early-season loss to American Heritage-Delray and a couple of games where the Hawks had to struggle to pull away showed some chinks in the armor.
Offensively, Armwood continued to struggle all season, including a 3-0 loss to Hillsborough. That ended the streak of district championships and put the Hawks on the road for the first round against a very talented and unbeaten Largo.
Of course, everyone circled the third round game with Gainesville as the big rematch. And it never quite lived up to its expectation. The same issues that plagued the Hawks during the regular season (inability to score in the red zone) came back to haunt them as Armwood made two trips to the GHS 10 and came away with three points. Gainesville got untracked and routed the Hawks 42-10 - the worst loss in 12 years for Armwood.
No. 7 - Miami Central - We ranked the Rockets here because we sincerely felt they were the 'team to beat' in 6A south - and we were right.
With a youthful backfield led by junior RB's Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby, this team was explosive.
A little nervous after the prediction when Miami Central promptly laid an egg at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson 35-3 - but bounced right back to knock off then #2 Booker T. Washington. Of course, a loss to then #1Manatee followed and the Rockets were 1-2 with Columbus next.
Miami Central never lost again.
In fact, they were never seriously challenged again - and that says a lot.
No. 20 - Gainesville - The Purple Hurricanes started the season loaded offensively and got better with the transfer of Tony James from Buchholz. James added to the weaponry of Chris Thompson and Raphael Webb along with quarterback Marquis Robins-Cato.
Yes, the Purple Hurricanes could score and had a solid defense led by Keith Kelsey Jr.. Only Lake City Columbia and Madison County came close to beating Gainesville as it climbed the ladder. All the way to the state title game where the buzz saw that is Miami Central cut them down.
Still, a great season for the guys in purple and white and certainly deserving of the pre-season accolades.
No. 23 - Mainland - The Bucs made it to the state semi finals in 2011 and we had them making a run, but weren't sure just how far.
Offensively, this team may have been the most fun to watch - as they scored almost at will. Of course, a couple of early-season losses knocked them from the polls but a late-season push got them into the post-season and they made a serious run.
Which ended at Naples.
We missed on these guys
- Naples - Returned almost all starters on offense and lit up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree. Only Miami Central managed to slow them down and hold them below 41 points. Very explosive and made a serious run at the Rockets before running out of weapons/bullets. Worthy of Top25 consideration for 2013 pre-season.
- Navarre - The Raiders came out of nowhere to make a run to the state semi-finals. Yes, they had legit D-1 talent and played phenomenal football, but unfortunately, the panhandle doesn't get a lot of love from the pollsters (undeservedly so) and we'll plead guilty as charged on this one.
- Hillsborough - The Terriers won the district over Armwood and had only one loss - to Sickles.
The loss of DE Jordan Sherit didn't seem to slow down the squad until a rematch with Armwood.