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It is opening week for the 2017 high school football season in Florida. That means lots of things are going on around the state to open the season. Here are five things to know as the season gets underway.
IT IS FOR REAL
For the first time since the 1974-75 season, every game in Florida is going to matter this season for teams in all eight classifications with the official launch of the new FHSAA Playoff Points system. That means Week 1 is going to matter now as much as Week 11.
Using a system modeled after Nebraska’s playoff points system, each game will earn points based upon the end of the season record of every team’s opponents during the season. Teams who scheduled an FHSAA playoff team or against a team from an out-of-state equivalent association from 2015 or 2016 gained three (3) additional bonus points which the FHSAA has calculated in its master schedules.
The biggest thing for this week though is to watch how close a lot of the Week 1 matchups are on the Scoreboard. This will be a telling sign for the rest of the season in how close we could expect to see matchups given the level of scheduling that we have not seen in years in Florida during the offseason.
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The FHSAA will start issuing points system updates around Week 5, but will not give us what the picture might look until after Week 8 or Week 9.
OUT-OF-STATE MATCHUPS GALORE
Nearly two dozen games involving teams playing an opponent from out-of-state are on the schedule for Week 1, including several that will be nationally televised.
Of the out-of-state matchups on the schedule this week, the most talked about one is the matchup is the one between USA TODAY Sports’ Super 25 teams No. 3 St. John Bosco (Calif.) and No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas is also ranked No. 1 in FloridaHSFootball.com’s Florida Top 25 rankings. That game air LIVE from Brian Piccolo Stadium Friday night starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
St. John Bosco was a national champion last season through several national ranking services, and between the Braves and St. Thomas Aquinas, both are potential candidates for a possible national championship this season.
Another big-time game on the schedule includes Bartram Trail at Cartersville (Ga.) which will air Saturday on ESPN2 starting at 7:30 p.m. EST. Cartersville is the defending GHSA AAAA state champion while Bartram Trail is coming off a 2016 season having reached the regional finals, and is among the teams expected to have a potential chance to emerge as the team in Class 7A North to play for a state championship in Orlando in December.
Other big out-of-state games to watch out for include USA TODAY Sports Super 25 No. 2 IMG Academy at Super 25 No. 7 Chandler (Ariz.), which will air live at 10:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU, as well as Vero Beach at Oscar Smith, (Va.), Archbishop Wood vs. Oxbridge Academy at ESPN Wide World of Sports, American Heritage (Plantation) at Bishop Sullivan (Va.), Venice at Camden County (Ga.), Melbourne Central Catholic at Buford (Ga.), Jones at St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), and Avon (Ohio) vs. Merritt Island at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
RELATED: Florida Top 25 schedule for Week 1
THE BIG IN-STATE MATCHUPS
There is no shortage of top quality in-state matchups to kickoff Week One here in the Sunshine State.
As mentioned earlier, the new FHSAA playoff points system for football has really made schedules much more interesting for the first time in many years and Week 1 has produced a plethora of top matchups.
Starting on Thursday night, Traz Powell Stadium in Miami will host three straight matchups that will involve teams ranked in FloridaHSFootball.com’s Florida Top 25 rankings. The first one will come against No. 15. Chaminade-Madonna vs. No. 7 Miami Central on Thursday night. Friday and Saturday night will involve games as part of the first-ever Superintendent’s Cup, which will matchup a team from Miami-Dade County with a team from Broward County. Those matchups include No. 10 Deerfield Beach vs. No. 3 Miami Carol City on Friday and No. 23 Cardinal Gibbons vs. No. 8 Miami Southridge on Saturday.
Some other big-time matchups include a rivalry renewal with Lakeland traveling to Manatee which is the first meeting between the two teams in quite a while. Also, keep an eye on matchups involving Cocoa at Trinity Christian (Jacksonville), Armwood at Tampa Bay Tech, Raines at Robert E. Lee, Dwyer at Park Vista, Plant at Hillsborough, Osceola (Kissimmee) at Lake Gibson and Charlotte at Dunbar.