In our Countdown to Kickoff series, we dive into a class by class preview for each of the FHSAA’s eight classifications as we head into the smallest classification with Class 2A.
STORYLINES TO WATCH
Can North Florida Christian show that last year was not a fluke?
This is a big question here that could be answered in several different ways this season. Remember last year, no one thought that the Eagles would play for a state championship, let alone win one.
While players like all-state athletes like center Jaxon Giles, offensive tackle JT Price are back for the Eagles, a lot of talent graduated in the likes of all-state linebacker Elisha Partner, linebacker Quan Myrick, linebacker TJ Ward, athlete Von Hayes, and safety Deangelo Mitchell. That means a lot of shoes will have to be filled to replace the incredible talent that was able to lead the Eagles to their first state championship since 2011.
With that all said on the talent side of things, the schedule will still prove to have some challenges with Jefferson County (Monticello), Trinity Catholic (Ocala), Maclay (Tallahassee), Florida High (Tallahassee), FAMU DRS (Tallahassee) and Taylor County (Perry) all have a date with the Eagles. The question will be, can they win a majority of these games that will all be crucial to reaching the playoffs? We will get that answer as the season roll along.
Reclassification shuffles some things up
Class 2A certainly saw a boost in the number of teams in the classification thanks to reclassification and some teams either moving down from Class 3A or coming back into the FHSAA state series after being independent for the last few years.
Over in Region 1, St. Joseph (St. Augustine) is back in Class 2A after spending last season in Class 3A, In Region 2, Orangewood Christian (Maitland) makes it move into Class 2A after spending some time over with the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. St. Petersburg Catholic joins Class 2A after spending many years in Class 3A, was placed in Region 3, while Marathon and Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale) slide in Class 2A after being in Class 3A the last couple of years, being placed in Region 4.
Of these teams, St. Joseph reached the playoffs last year in Class 3A, while Orangewood Christian competed in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference FBS Playoffs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
NOTE: Players to watch is guided more around abilities on the field than star-rankings. A lot of this list is derived from last season’s FloridaHSFootball.com All-State Teams and while we would love to list everyone from every program, we had to make some considerations for this list for the preview.
Ryle Aguila, Champagnat Catholic, Sr. – Aguila, who was at Hialeah last season, earned Class 8A third-team all-state honors at quarterback after passing for 2,520 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Henry Austad, Foundation Academy, Sr. – One of the leading Class 2A quarterback last season, Austad landed first-team all-state honors with over 2,100 yards passing and 28 touchdowns while rushing for three more touchdowns.
Mykal Chan, Foundation Academy, Sr. – One of the leading specialists in the state, Chan landed first-team all-state honors as a punter with an average of 39 yards per punt last season.
Jaxon Giles, North Florida Christian, Sr. – The starting offensive center had an 87% blocking grade last season, but also collected 108 tackles on defense as a defensive lineman while earning first-team all-state honors.
Brett Heuchan, Maclay, Sr. – Threw for over 1,800 yards and 21 touchdowns last season while earning all-state honorable mention honors.
Jaydon Hunter, Lakeland Victory Christian, Sr. – Led team with 104 tackles (10 for loss), 1 forced fumble from the outside linebacker position last season while earning first-team all-state honors.
Jovens Janvier, Miami Christian, Sr. – Janvier is one of the leading offensive linemen for the Victory earning second-team all-state honors last season.
Donovan Jones, Champagnat Catholic, Jr. – Rushed for 1,213 yards and 14 touchdowns last season while earning second-team all-state honors.
Isaiah Knowles, Seffner Christian, Sr. – Another one of the top quarterbacks in Class 2A, Knowles threw for 2,160 yards and 34 touchdowns last season for the Crusaders and earning first-team all-state honors.
Johnquai Lewis, Champagnat Catholic, Sr. – Lewis caught over 1,200 yards in passes on his way to first-team all-state honors last season.
Max McClendon, University Christian, Sr. – The first-team all-state running back rushed for 1,263 yards last season scoring 15 times for the Fighting Christians.
Anthony McPhee, Glades Day, Sr. – The dual-threat quarterback earned second-team all-state honors last season as a utility player with stats in passing, rushing, receiving, defense (at cornerback), plus special teams.
Robert Parker-Crawford, Maclay, Sr. – An all-around athlete spending time on both sides of the ball and at special teams, earning second-team all-state honors last season.
Caleb Poe, Victory Christian, Sr. – Had 67 tackles and five interceptions while getting second-team all-state honors at safety last season.
JT Price, North Florida Christian, Jr. – The returning junior had a 93% blocking grade last season for the Eagles while earning second-team all-state honors.
RJ Rosales, Evangelical Christian, Sr. – The former Immokalee quarterback, now at Evangelical Christian, threw for 2,274 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
Danny Stutsman, Foundation Academy, Jr. – All-around athlete that earned second-team all-state honors. Had over 750 yards of offense last season with 13 touchdowns and had 55 tackles, 10 sacks and returned two fumbles for touchdowns.
Michael Trigg, Seffner Christian, Jr. – The tight end for the Crusaders was the recipient of Class 2A all-state honors on the first-team last season after hauling in 30 catches for 437 yards and eight touchdowns.
Shedrick Ursery, Champagnat Catholic, Sr. – A defensive weapon, Ursery was dangerous collecting up 43 tackles and seven interceptions for the Lions on his way to first-team all-state honors last year.
Mikal Willeke, Cambridge Christian, Sr. – Threw for 2,124 yards and 23 touchdowns last season while earning all-state honorable mention honors.
THE FAVORITE TO WIN IT ALL
Champagnat Catholic – The Lions have some quality talent returning and some transfers that have come into bolster this team into what should be one of the best in Class 2A this year.
NEXT IN LINE
Admiral Farragut – With Rick Kravitz leading the way, the Blue Jackets have a solid amount of talent returning
North Florida Christian – We can’t count out the Eagles making a run to repeat, but with a lot of talent from last year’s state championship squad having to be replaced, it could be a tough one.
University Christian – The Fighting Christians will always be in the mix for a potential run to winning a Class 2A state championship part in thanks to solid coaching along with a solid talent pool.
Foundation Academy – It would not be far-fetched to say that Foundation Academy has a chance to be hoisting a state championship trophy. With some quality talent back, they are rightfully in the mix.
FAMU DRS – There is some talent with this team, but they will have to find a way to play solid football in the playoffs if they want to play for a state championship in their backyard.
Miami Christian – There is a lot of talent, but will the Victors be ready for the true test to get to a state championship game if they work their way to it?
11 GAMES TO WATCH
Here are 11 games that could have an impact on the Class 2A playoff standings. Do note that are way more games that are worth watching that could be included on the list but wanted to focus on one game each week. Additional games will be spotlighted each week during the season.
Cambridge Christian at Foundation Academy, Aug. 23, 7:00 p.m.
Both of these Class 2A programs have some talent returning in a game that will set the tone for both programs to start the season.
Shiloh Christian (Ark.) vs. Moore Haven at ESPN Wide World of Sports, Aug. 30, 7:30 p.m.
This is an intriguing matchup for Moore Haven against one of the best teams from Arkansas that will be played at Disney World.
Zephyrhills Christian at Seffner Christian, Sep. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Here is a potential early-season playoff preview between two Region 3 foes that will certainly have an impact on the playoff race.
FAMU DRS at Zephyrhills Christian, Sep. 13, 7:00 p.m.
This should be a solid matchup of Class 2A programs that have been on the rise over the last couple of years.
Trinity Christian (Deltona) at Foundation Academy, Sep. 20, 7:00 p.m.
A potential playoff preview between two Class 2A-Region 2 foes.
Victory Christian at Admiral Farragut, Sep. 26, 7:00 p.m.
This will be an impressive midseason challenge for the two programs that were state semifinalists last season.
St. John Neumann at Evangelical Christian, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Could play a significant role in the Region 4 playoff standings if both teams are on the winning side of things.
Foundation Academy at University Christian, Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.
A great midseason matchup between two of the top teams in Class 2A.
Orangewood Christian at Foundation Academy, Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.
Another potential playoff preview between Class 2A-Region 2 foes.
First Baptist (Naples) at Moore Haven, Oct. 25, 7:00 p.m.
Depending on how both teams are fairing here, this game could have major implications on the Region 4 playoffs standings.
Maclay at FAMU DRS, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.
A huge matchup between these two Tallahassee-area programs that will provide a test for either one or both heading into the playoffs.
1. University Christian
2. North Florida Christian
4. FAMU DRS
5. St. Joseph
6. Aucilla Christian
7. Eagle’s View
8. North Florida Educational
9. Rocky Bayou Christian
10. Munroe Day
1. Foundation Academy
2. Victory Christian
3. Orangewood Christian
4. Trinity Christian (Deltona)
5. Oak Hall
6. St. Francis Catholic
7. Halifax Academy
8. Merritt Island Christian
9. St. John Lutheran
1. Admiral Farragut
2. Seffner Christian
3. Cambridge Christian
4. Zephyrhills Christian
5. Carrollwood Day
6. St. Petersburg Catholic
7. Keswick Christian
8. Northside Christian
9. Indian Rocks Christian
1. Champagnat Catholic
2. Miami Christian
3. Evangelical Christian
4. Moore Haven
5. St. John Neumann
6. Glades Day
7. First Baptist (Naples)
8. Community School (Naples)
10. Southwest Florida Christian
11. Westminster Academy