One theme that will likely run through these final polls is how I analyze the entire resume, outside of an automatic #1/#2 ranking for the finalists. Quality wins are very important (as measured by relative positioning) and quality losses vs bad losses are also including in my thinking. The higher the ranking, the likely there are quality wins, and you will see that schools that are in the ‘Also Considered’ tend to not have the signature win that gets them ranked.
As usual, there are a lot of A beats B, who then beats C, and when C upsets B it causes deeper analysis. Put on top of that, you have plenty of instances of teams in the Top 15 playing each other three times, due to the method of District ranking and Regional ranking, where a #1/#5 matchup of district rivals happened a few times in the Regional semifinal, as only one #4 seed won a home game in the 1st round.
That also required some more thinking!
And one other key note is that I ONLY looked at Florida teams playing each other, not their out of state games, nor their IMG games. There’s too much variance among out of state schedules (and who those schools will play) to include them in my thinking. This allows more of an apples-to-apples comparison.
So, let’s get the easy part out of the way . . . St. Thomas Aquinas #1 and Ponte Vedra #2
Now, let’s look at the other resumes.
Frankly, this poll is pretty easy from #1 to #12, but it gets ridiculous to separate teams #13 to #15 from the list of Mitchell, Steinbrenner, Wellington, Gulf Coast, Vero Beach and Martin County. Mitchell’s biggest win is over Steinbrenner and Steinbrenner’s biggest win is over Mitchell and both beat Alonso, but no other signature wins for either.
Gulf Coast and Vero Beach had strong late season runs, and in Vero’s case it happened after a coaching change, while GC was underrated by FHSAA almost the entire season. Martin County split with Vero and lost the District final by a goal and had a quality win over Holy Trinity early, but little else.
And Wellington was 4-5 down the stretch after starting 9-2. A few were blowouts.
Nease – wins over Creekside and Oak Hall, lost to Lake Mary, Bolles, Jupiter and Ponte Vedra 3x
Western-Davie – wins over Gulliver, Columbus, SJP, Wellington and Belen, losses to SA, Community School, Oxbridge, Columbus and STA 3x
Wellington – no signature wins, best wins over Martin County and Dwyer, losses to Jupiter 2x, Vero, Western, SJP, Oxbridge and Columbus
Windermere – wins over Vero 2x and Boone, losses to Montverde and Winter Park 2x by shutout
Steinbrenner – wins over Mitchell and Alonso, losses to Newsome, Plant, Mitchell and Gulf Coast
Mitchell – wins over Alonso and Steinbrenner, losses to Jesuit, Steinbrenner and Newsome 2x
Columbus – wins over Wellington, Western, Westminster Christian and losses to Jupiter, Gulliver, Western, St. Thomas and Canterbury
Gulf Coast – wins over Cardinal Mooney and Steinbrenner. losses to Plant, SJP, Canterbury and Belen
Vero Beach – wins over Wellington, Martin County and Boone, losses to St, Edward’s, Wellington, Martin County and Windermere 2x
Martin County – wins over Vero and Holy Trinity, losses to Wellington, Vero and Winter Park
1) St. Thomas Aquinas – title winner
2) Ponte Vedra – only lost the best game I’ve seen in person
3) Winter Park – a worthy return to the Final Four
4) Plant – one bad half at the wrong time
5) Lake Mary – if only they had gotten past the region, could be wearing the crown
6) Creekside – injuries were untimely
7) Jupiter – great schedule, but a lot to ask
8) Newsome – solid program that just can’t quite get to the Final Four
9) Nease – so similar to SJP, tough schedule, a few big wins but not quite enough in a tough region
10) Windermere – a very nice jump but the next step is tough
11) Western-Davie – took on everyone, just not enough depth
12) Columbus – nice second half, can they continue to grow?
13) Gulf Coast – my belief in them late in the season was rewarded
14t) Steinbrenner – need to play better teams
14t) Mitchell – also needs to play better teams
Wellington, Vero Beach and Martin County