Top 10 kickoff classic games in Florida

Top 10 kickoff classic games in Florida


Top 10 kickoff classic games in Florida

By is a partner of USA TODAY High School Sports

The first real taste of high school football in Florida comes this week with the annual kickoff classics around the state.

While not every team participates in a kickoff classic, most do and some of them are treating this as the real deal before next week’s season openers.

As such, we have managed to narrow down a list of a couple hundred kickoff classics and give you 10 games to watch with some other games that were just on the bubble for consideration.

Jerry Jeudy (Photo: 247Sports)

Alabama commit Jerry Jeudy is among the star players at Deerfield Beach (Photo: 247Sports)

10. Chaminade-Madonna at Deerfield Beach

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Butler Stadium, Deerfield Beach

Why: Chaminade-Madonna bounced back quickly following the unexpected resignation of coach Jason Milgrom days before the opening of practice by hiring former Hallandale coach Dameon Jones to keep the team together. Both teams have enough talent they could be worthy contenders for the state championships in their respective classifications.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Deerfield Beach 28, Chaminade-Madonna 13

Josh’s Prediction: Deerfield Beach 28, Chaminade-Madonna 21

9. Camden County (Georgia) at Oakleaf

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: The Dungeon at Zaxby’s Field, Orange Park

Why: After finishing last season 8-2 and missing the playoffs, Oakleaf knew the only way to keep getting better was to find a tough challenge in the process. That challenge comes with Camden County, one of the toughest teams to play against from Georgia, which finished the 2015 season with a 10-2 record. The Wildcats start out in a new classification in Georgia, dubbed the “Big 44” or better known as Class AAAAAAA. They are ranked No. 6 by Georgia High School Football Daily and will be competing with Colquitt County for the top spot in their region. While the game will count for Camden County as its season opener, it will not count for the Knights.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Camden County 33, Oakleaf 14

Josh’s Prediction: Camden County 38, Oakleaf 14

8. Kissimmee Osceola at West Orange

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Raymond Screws Field, Winter Garden

Why: These two teams played twice last season, including a Class 8A semifinal that Osceola won before losing to Flanagan for the state title. Each is a defending district champion and has key positions to fill; the process of seeing how those players are begins here.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: West Orange 28, Osceola 27

Josh’s Prediction: West Orange 24, Osceola 21

7. Bartram Trail at Mandarin

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: The Corral, Jacksonville

Why: Annual playoff contender Bartram Trail takes on a team that has been on the rise the last three seasons in Mandarin. Bartram Trail features three quarterbacks on the roster, all of whom could eventually sign Division I scholarships. Mandarin’s new head coach Quinn Gray takes over after Brian Braddock, who turned the program around in just three seasons, left for a rare opportunity to coach at his alma mater, St. Augustine. Gray, a former quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has high expectations. Among them: keeping the team on track after finishing the best season in school history. That run last year included a trip to the regional finals in Class 8A.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Mandarin 35, Bartram Trail 28

Josh’s Prediction: Bartram Trail 30, Mandarin 24

6. Columbia at Apopka

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Roger Williams Field, Apopka

Why: Here are two powerhouse teams that have been consistent playoff contenders. Columbia is coming off a season in which it saw its deepest run in the postseason since playing for the Class 6A state championship in 1997, while Apopka fell a few games short of being able to defend their Class 8A state championship. Columbia is returning some quality players, including one of the top quarterbacks in passing yards from last season, while Apopka has 14 starters returning including eight that are part of head coach Rick Darlington’s power single-wing offense.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Apopka 33, Columbia 32

Josh’s Prediction: Columbia 35, Apopka 34

Juwan Burgess (right) is a key player for Plant (Photo: 247 Sports)

Juwan Burgess (right) is a key player for Plant (Photo: 247 Sports)

5. Plant at Venice

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Powell-Davis Stadium, Venice

Why: Both teams reached the Class 7A regional semifinals last season and enter the season with high expectations. Both teams return a majority of their starters from last season and expect deep runs. In season openers next week, Plant will travel to Leed-Pebbles Stadium in Mobile to take on Paul Bryant, as part of an Alabama vs. Florida showdown while Venice will host Camden County from Georgia.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Venice 24, Plant 20

Josh’s Prediction: Venice 21, Plant 20

4. Armwood at Manatee

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium, Bradenton

Why: This is a great matchup of two teams from the Tampa Bay-area that have national name recognition. Manatee showed off a potent offense during spring football, which could spell trouble for opponents on the schedule. Armwood is coming off another solid season that finished with a loss to Miami Central in the Class 6A state championship game.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: Armwood 35, Manatee 20

Josh’s Pick: Manatee 31, Armwood 28

Among the IMG Class of 2017 stars from left: Santino Marchiol, Brock Annexstad, Kellen Mond, Marcus Williamson and Christian Pluchino (Photo: Casey Brooke Lawson, IMG Academy)

Among the IMG Class of 2017 stars from left: Santino Marchiol, Brock Annexstad, Kellen Mond, Marcus Williamson and Christian Pluchino (Photo: Casey Brooke Lawson, IMG Academy)

3. Miami Carol City at IMG Academy

When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: IMG Academy Field, Bradenton

Why: Miami Carol City is coming off a solid 2015 season where it defeated Miami Central for the district championship, but fell in the rematch in the postseason. With some solid athletes back, head coach Aubrey Hill is willing to let his Chiefs take a chance against IMG Academy, ranked No. 4 in the Preseason Super 25 and has a slew of top athletes. IMG’s 13-game schedule includes four home games, including the kickoff classic.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: IMG Academy 37, Miami Carol City 14

Josh’s Prediction: IMG Academy 35, Miami Carol City 17

May 19 2016 -- Fort Lauderdale, FL, U.S.A -- St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Roger Harriott. St. Thomas Aquinas, the likely No. 1 team in the preseason Super 25, is hosting its annual gold and blue inter squad scrimmage at the school’s stadium. -- Photo by Steve Mitchell USA TODAY Sports Images, Gannett ORG XMIT: US 134928 St. Thomas Aquin 5/19/2016 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Coach Roger Harriott and St. Thomas Aquinas visit Dillard in a kickoff classic Friday (Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)

2. St. Thomas Aquinas at Dillard

When: Thursday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Otis Gray Jr. Memorial Stadium, Fort Lauderdale

Why: This has become an annual rivalry kickoff classic between the two Fort Lauderdale programs, which both tend to treat this like a real game. The Raiders are ranked No. 1 by USA TODAY High School Sports. While this game doesn’t count for either team, the national rankings pundits are going to be watching closely. Dillard will have a new offensive coordinator in Nadia Jenkins, who is going to show off some of what we can expect from the Panthers

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: St. Thomas Aquinas 40, Dillard 7

Josh’s Prediction: St. Thomas Aquinas 35, Dillard 17

Booker T. Washington head coach Tim Harris, center, and quarterback Treon Harris (5) celebrate after the Class 4A state high school championship football game against Jacksonville Bolles in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) ORG XMIT: NYWWP [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Tim Harris is back on the sideline for Booker T. Washington (Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press)

1. Booker T. Washington at Plantation American Heritage

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Heritage Field, Plantation

Why: Both of these teams enter the season ranked in the Top 10 of the Preseason Super 25 Top 10 with the Tornadoes ranked No. 8 while the Patriots are ranked No. 6. Ice Harris returns to the sideline as the head coach for Booker T. while Patrick Surtain Sr. takes over as the head coach for American Heritage. Harris returns after two years away at the University of Miami under former head coach Al Golden, while Surtain moves up from defensive coordinator. Both programs are loaded with talented athletes (too many to list here) and this showdown will certainly have a major impact on the national rankings even if it doesn’t count in the standings.

USA TODAY HSS Score Predictor: American Heritage 32, Booker T. Washington 26

Josh’s Prediction: Booker T. Washington 28, American Heritage 27

Others to consider:

Columbus vs. Boyd Anderson (Friday)

Lakeland at Lake Gibson (Friday)

Escambia vs. Lincoln at Gene Cox (Thursday)

North Marion at Jacksonville Trinity Christian (Friday)

Palm Bay Heritage at Vero Beach (Friday)

Pine Forest at West Florida (Friday)

For a list of all the kickoff classics in Florida, click here.

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