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 . . . Lake Highland Prep #1 and American Heritage-Delray #2
Now, let’s look at the other resumes.
First, this is one Poll/Class where things changed QUICKLY. I certainly did not see LHP reversing the AH-D regular season win and all kudos to LHP HC Chris Robinson, who crafted a great game plan for the Stallions, taking advantage of their size differential, neutralizing AH-D’s ride and making interior looks difficult all day long. And even then it took a bit of a fluky dangerous shot penalty to stem AH-D’s late game momentum.
But it all worked, and the Highlanders raised the trophy for their second title in three Final Fours.
Nowhere did I miss the boat over the course of the year more than with Naples. They were actually in the ‘Also Considered’ category in the last poll before the Districts were played, and they quickly proved their mettle with a dominating march to the Final Four, where they gave AH-Delray fits in the semifinals for half the game. They easily made the biggest move in the final Poll.
And then you have the mystery of what to do with Bishop Moore, a team with 9 losses, mostly close games to highly ranked 2A and 1A teams, but a team with their best wins being over Lake Brantley, Lake Mary and Plant. Only one of those teams made it past the first round in 2A. I did not give the LHP Boys the advantage of a tough schedule and mostly losses, and I can’t here either.
The Southeast was deep in competitive teams, but none of them really had a signature win, so they have to settle for being ‘just out’ of the Poll.
1) Lake Highland Prep – championship trophy
2) American Heritage-Delray – surprised in the finals
3) Pine Crest – maybe the best #3 in state history when you look at the schedule and the results. Lost to runner up AH-Delray 2x, title winner in 1A LHP and 2A title winner Bartram Trail, while beating Benjamin 2x, SA, St. Thomas, Vero Beach, King’s Academy and AH-Plantation 3x (check our last Top 10 and you’ll see how good this season was for them).
4) Naples – rolls right past a tough Region 3
5) Benjamin – beat Episcopal School, SA, South Fork 2x and Palm Beach Central while losing only to St. Thomas, Vero and Pine Crest 2x
6) Episcopal of Jacksonville – losses to Vero, Benjamin and Lake Highland 2x, while pretty much clocking everyone else
7) St. Stephen’s Episcopal – Regional finalist, avenging the 2 one-goal losses to ODA, winning when it counted the most
8) Out-of-Door Academy – ran the table in state until the SSE loss
9) Bishop Moore – can’t really reward them more than this given the quality of the wins
10) South Fork – gets the final slot over Jensen Beach because of the 2 head-to-head wins