It wound up as a relatively down year for South Florida high school football, but even a down year means five teams from Miami-Dade and Broward counties will play for a state championship.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Miami Central, Cardinal Gibbons, Chaminade-Madonna and Champagnat Catholic all punched their tickets to title games Friday, and will try to add to their lengthy histories by adding more trophies in the next two week.
All five are in a championship game for at least the second straight year and four of the five are trying to defend their titles. The Raiders, Rockets and Chiefs will also get to do it close to home as the championship games for Classes 8A-4A will be held at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale from Dec. 16-18.
Chaminade-Madonna and Champagnat will have to go on the road next week to gun for championships. Champagnat will play Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy in the Class 2A championship Thursday at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee and Chaminade-Madonna will face Tampa Berkeley Prep on Friday.
Chaminade-Madonna and Champagnat are both in the championship for the sixth straight year. Chaminade-Madonna is going for a sixth state title and had won three in a row before falling to Trinity Christian Academy last year, while Champagnat will go for a three-peat and a fifth championship overall.
On Dec. 16, Cardinal Gibbons will try to repeat as the Class 4A champion — and win a third in four years and third overall — when it faces Cocoa. St. Thomas Aquinas and Central will both go for three-peats Friday.
The Raiders will play Tampa Bay Tech in the Class 7A championship with a chance to add a 13th state title to their record total. The Rockets will face Merritt Island in the Class 5A title game and a win would give them a Miami-Dade County record eight Florida High School Athletic Association championship, breaking a tie with rival Northwestern.
Here’s the full schedule for the state championship games, with local teams in bold:
(at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee)
▪ Thursday, Dec. 9 — Class 2A: Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy vs. Champagnat Catholic, 7 p.m.
▪ Friday, Dec. 10 — Class 3A: Tampa Berkeley Prep vs. Chaminade-Madonna, 7 p.m.
▪ Saturday, Dec. 11 — Class 1A: Madison County vs. Hawthorne, 7 p.m.
(at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale)
▪ Thursday, Dec. 16 — Class 4A: Cardinal Gibbons vs. Cocoa, 7 p.m.
▪ Friday, Dec. 17 — Class 5A: Miami Central vs. Merritt Island, 1 p.m.
▪ Friday, Dec. 17 — Class 7A: St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Tampa Bay Tech, 7 p.m.
▪ Saturday, Dec. 18 — Class 8A: Apopka vs. Venice, 1 p.m.
▪ Saturday, Dec. 18 — Class 6A: Pensacola Pine Forest vs. Tampa Jesuit, 7 p.m.