With Week 1 rapidly approaching, we just released our first-ever Strength of Schedule rankings ahead of our first-ever rankings in our new hybrid rankings which combine the ballots of 15 media members, with the numbers of the raw data we have on each team in a formula that will rank the teams for us.
Here are my initial thoughts on the first-ever Strength of Schedule rankings release we just did here on FloridaHSFootball.com.
• Really thought that St. Thomas Aquinas or IMG Academy would have the strongest schedule, but to see Miami Northwestern and Miami Norland in the top two spots speaks volumes about District 6A-16 and the strength of all four teams in that district. It will be interesting to see how the Top 5 shakes out the season.
• And on the thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas and IMG Academy, both tied at No. 5 for the toughest schedule in the state. Both teams I expect to rise over the first two weeks of the season, but will be dependent on how well their opponents come out of the gate to start as well.
• You might notice quite a few independents gracing the Top 25. A majority of those teams are from the Gold Coast Football Conference which expanded from six to 10 teams this off-season and with that brought in four of the best teams that had left the Southeastern Football Conference in Coral Springs Charter, Westminster Academy, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian and Pompano Beach. I expect things to change rather quickly after Week 1.
• Speaking of the independents, Orangewood Christian enters the season as the team with the toughest schedule in the 32-member Sunshine State Athletic Conference. They tied with Pompano Beach of the Gold Coast Football Conference at No. 9 in the Top 10 for Independents.
• The fact that no Class 8A team cracked the Top 25 in the preseason strength of schedule ranking might help support the fact that Class 8A is wide open and that they have some of the weakest schedules in the state. However, some of the teams in the Top 10 in Class 8A are no surprise like Miramar, Miami Killian, Orange City Univerity, Southridge and Dr. Phillips. However, Flagler Palm Coast and DeLand were a bit surprising to see.
• Miami Jackson, which is home to the first female head coach in the state in Lakatriona Brunson, made sure here team’s schedule got a little stronger for 2016 when she added Bolles on to the schedule. The Generals took the top spot away from Plantation American Heritage with that move in Class 5A.
• One of the teams that folks complained about a ton about last season in reaching the playoffs was Eastside. The team which enters the season with a new head coach after going 1-10 last season finds themselves with the third-toughest schedule in Class 5A to start the season. With many of the teams on the schedule having reached the playoffs last season, this should not surprise many folks.
• Miami Central’s Strength of Schedule is hurt by the fact the team is only playing an 8-game regular season schedule, after being unable to find games to fill in two of three bye weeks at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see if the Rockets strength of schedule can stay inside the Top 10.
• South Walton surprised me a little bit by having the toughest schedule in Class 1A, considering that Trenton added Class 5A state runner-up and Class 2A regional semifinalist Northside Christian to the schedule. However, Trenton is not far behind at No. 3 with Blountstown who traditionally put a strong schedule together check in at No. 2 in Class 1A.
• St. Johns Creekside which went 0-10 last season had one of the toughest schedules in Class 7A, considering over half their opponents reached the playoffs last season, it was no surprise to see them crack the Top 25. However, Columbia, which is within the same region as Creekside had a slightly stronger schedule and that is helped in thanks to the addition of Camden County on the schedule this season.
Look for more of my quick thoughts on our Strength of Schedule rankings each week starting after Week 1.