The playoffs are here. That means it’s the end of the season for several teams and shortly enough someone will experience the heartbreak of a painful elimination game. As always this is a state of current teams, not necessarily a head-to-head match-up debate, and the final rankings of the season.
Final Power Rankings
1. Wakulla (9-1) – Last week: 1; beat Jefferson County, 28-14; This week: vs. Panama City Bay (8-2)
The War Eagles’ coaches got to scout their first-round opponent last week thanks to a Thursday night game. Regardless, Wakulla has been consistent all year and its playoff opponent has not.
2. Rickards (7-2) – Last week: 2; beat Chiles, 32-24; This week: at West Florida (6-4)
The Raiders finished out their season undefeated in the city with only a seven-point district loss to Wakulla and a big loss at Arkansas powerhouse Bentonville to count against their record. Winnable game this week to set up a 1-v-2 matchup next week.
3. Blountstown (8-2) – Last week: 3; beat Vernon, 34-3; This week: at Liberty County (7-3)
The Tigers are playoff ready after dispatching of an 8-1 Vernon team easily last week. In a what is a yearly rite of passage, Blountstown’s first round game is again against its biggest rival.
4. Madison County (7-3) – Last week: 4; bye; This week: vs. Lake Butler Union County (9-1)
The Cowboys have as tough a first-round matchup as may exist in the playoffs. If there’s anything to draw on, it’s that 1A Madison has made its runs through the playoffs in years past in a Class 4A bracket.
5. Chiles (6-4) – Last week: 5; lost to Rickards, 32-24; This week: at Lake City Columbia (9-1)
We’re not faulting the Timberwolves for having to play a game against a roster twice its size on essentially two days of rest. Even with three games in eight days, Chiles displayed enough fight that if it’s rested, it can definitely win on the road this week.
6. NFC (6-3) – Last week: 6; bye; This week: vs. Cedar Creek Christian (6-4)
The Eagles have never faced this week’s opponent, which may be a good thing given NFC’s talent. That talent also hopes to shine now that it’s the playoffs, somewhere NFC is accustomed to being every year.
7. John Paul II (6-3) – Last week: 7; bye; Tonight: vs. St. Joseph Academy (9-0)
The Panthers play tonight under the brighter lights of Cox Stadium and are out for revenge for a three-point midseason loss. Quite the turnaround for JPII this season already and it could get better if it wins a conference crown.
8. Liberty County (7-3) – Last week: NR; beat Baker, 55-39; This week: vs. Blountstown (8-2)
This Bulldogs are back in the rankings courtesy of statement victory last week. That sets up a juicy Apalachicola River Rivalry game this week and Liberty is well aware it has lost the last five games to Blountstown, including two first-round playoff exits the last two seasons.
9. Florida High (6-4) – Last week: 8; This week: season over
The Seminoles season is over, having ended short of reaching their goal of the playoffs.
10. Jefferson County (6-4) – Last week: 9; lost to Wakulla, 28-14; This week: at Fort White (8-2)
As first-round playoff games go, this isn’t the worst, but the Tigers will need to slow an offense averaging 29 points a game. That said, a solid season for Jefferson to make the playoffs after a four-year absence and improve from 2-9 a season ago.
Dropped out: Godby (3-6); Outside looking in: Taylor County (5-5), Leon (5-5), Lincoln (4-6), West Gadsden (3-7), Maclay (2-7), Franklin County (2-7), Aucilla Christian (1-7), East Gadsden (1-8), Munroe (1-8), FAMU DRS (0-9)
NFFC Championship at Gene Cox Stadium, 7 p.m.
Tonight, the St. Joseph Academy Flashes (9-0) visit Cox Stadium to take on the John Paul II Panthers (6-3) in the North Florida Football Conference Championship game.
The two teams met on Oct. 16 in St. Augustine where the Flashes nipped the Panthers, 10-7. John Paul II is looking for its first NFFC title to cap what has already been a record-setting season win total.
The Flashes’ first-year coach is former JPII coach and athletic director Matt Olesnevich.
#BeatBrian, Week 11 winner
Congrats to Perry, who is perhaps one uber-smart person or the city of Perry’s pooled pick ‘em intelligence. Either way, a 12-0 week got it done, the only person to do so. I went 9-3, allowing four people to come in at 11-1 (Raymond Crosby, Jeff Crum, Eddie Ealy and Nimily Williams), while Michael Moore and Catherine Branch went 10-2.
That concludes our season of high school football pick ‘em. Thank you to all who participated. I look forward to next year.
Grand Prize Winner
We will reveal the Grand Prize winner of the #BeatBrian contest in next week’s Big Bend Preps page and online. A 55-inch TV and $300 in local catering is on the line. Did you play? If so, you just might win. Be on the lookout!