Big changes are coming to high school football. On Feb. 23, 2022 the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) voted to change its football classifications.
There will now be Metro, Suburban and Rural divisions. The Rural Division will have Class 1A for schools in rural areas with student populations of 600 or less.
The Metro and Suburban divisions each will have Classes 1A-4A based on school populations.
The Metro Division will be comprised of schools in Metropolitan areas, including Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and Orlando.
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange, Seminole and Duval counties also will be in the Metro Division.
Volusia and Flagler counties and everyone else will be in the Suburban Division.
“We are all waiting to see where we are going to be, as far as scheduling wise,” said Pat Brown, Seabreeze High School’s head coach. “I don’t think it changes us; I think we can keep some of our local rivalries.”
Halifax Academy Athletic Director/ Head Football Coach Shamus Dougherty stated, “We’re still waiting to see where we’ll be placed and how it all breaks down. I think some of the best 2A schools will move into Metro and some bigger schools will move down a class.”
Advantages and disadvantages
A benefit may be that local schools will not have to play larger metro schools for a state title, because the metro area schools have dominated state title competition in the past.
Mainland won the only state title in Volusia County history in 2003.
“It means we don’t have to play those Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa teams to advance in the playoffs,” said Dougherty.
Brown agreed. “It could help us locally get over that second-round playoff hump. Right now, those county programs are ahead of us; we all lost to them in the playoffs. Historically it’s been Miami, but in recent years we haven’t advanced to a Miami team. Not playing those teams in championship could increase our odds.”
There could be some disadvantages to the new system as well.
“The classifications could be bigger with more teams. We have four classes instead of eight. And 3A or 4A student population difference could be much bigger,” Brown said. “Currently, we may play a school with a gap of 300 students in our class. It may now go to more of a gap of 800 students.” Dougherty noted, “We have 125 kids already playing schools with up to 600 kids. That is still a disparity, but I think FHSAA is trying their best to bring parity. I don’t know if this is going to give them that.”
It’s still interesting to see how the playoff system will work.
“I think it will be similar to when they went to the point system for the playoffs. In the first year, you had a lot of teams with winning records not get in, but many with losing records did. They tweaked it and improved it. I think it will be tweaked again later,’’ Dougherty added.
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