On Thursday, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) finalized the list of districts and classifications, and with that came some changes, a few surprises, but others not so much surprising given their names were tossed around as teams that could move around based upon their location.
Here are some takeaways from the changes:
TWO TEAM DISTRICTS ARE BACK
Two-team districts make a return with the return after some teams decided to either change classifications, made changes to the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) or just went independent altogether.
In District 2M-4 Orlando Bishop Moore will be joined by Orlando Lake Buena Vista in a two-team district in Orange County after Orlando Lake Highland Prep decided to recommit to the SSAC while Windermere Prep opted for independent status for the next two years. Lake Buena Vista shifted down from Class 3M-3 where it would have been with Orlando Jones, Orlando Edgewater, Apopka Wekiva, and Winter Garden Horizon.
Over in District 1S-2, Monticello Aucilla Christian appealed to head to Class 1R-Region 2 and we will get to more on that moment about the rural classification additions. With that change, it leaves Tallahassee St. John Paul II and Tallahassee FAMU DRS as the only two teams in that district with FAMU DRS in rebuild mode while St. John Paul II has been on the rise over the last few years.
And then over in District 1S-6, Bradenton Christian made a return to the SSAC after rejoining the state series last year as they did not feel it was a fit to be in the same district with Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Fort Pierce John Carroll.
BALDWIN AND GLADES DAY WIN APPEALS TO LEAVE METRO CLASSIFICATIONS
Teams like Baldwin, Belle Glade Glades Day, Pahokee, and Belle Glade Glades Central were among a handful of teams in the defined eight metro counties that were floated as teams that would have enough evidence to show that while located in a Metro county would be teams that could appeal and get placed into suburban or rural classifications as they were considered out-of-the-way locations compared to the majority of other schools.
In that sense, Baldwin and Belle Glade Glades Day took advantage of the opportunity to appeal and both teams were approved.
For Baldwin, they will be shifting from District 2M-3 to District 2S-5 to join Glen St. Mary Baker County, Callahan West Nassau, Yulee, and Fernandina Beach.
To compensate for Baldwin’s movement, Jacksonville Riverside was moved from District 2M-1 to District 2M-3 to join Jacksonville Ed White and Jacksonville Westside.
For Glades Day, their appeal was easy as they requested to move to Class 1R-Region 4 which leads us to some stuff about the rural classification itself…
RURAL CLASSIFICATION GAINS FIRST TWO PRIVATE SCHOOLS FOR FOOTBALL
While other rural private schools have been a part of the FHSAA’s rural classification over the last decade, no private school has been a part of the classification for football… until now.
For both Aucilla Christian and Glades Day, their entry into Class 1R marks the first time both schools will be a part of the classification although both teams have been eligible for the classification since the formation in 2011.
And it should be noted that other schools including Moore Haven and Marathon have been eligible to be a part of the rural classification, but have declined to join the classification, opting for other more local options along the way over the years.
RURAL DOES LOSE ONE TEAM
Fort Meade which was projected to stay in Class 1R having met all the qualifications, the lure of a district was too much and the Minera appealed to be placed in District 2S-13 with Lake Alfred Discovery, Mulberry, Lakeland Tenoroc, and rival Frostproof.
OTHER CHANGES AND NOTES
10 teams that were placed in a district overall requested to opt-out of their district placement for the next two years while Palm Coast Matanzas which was on the low end of Class 4S was shifted from District 4S-4 and down to Class 3S to join District 3S-4 to join Gainesville, Green Cove Springs Clay, St. Augustine, and St. Augustine Menendez.
Teams heading for independent status included Lake Highland Prep which is staying in the SSAC, Windermere Prep, Fort Lauderdale NSU University School (leaving District 2M-12), Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy (leaving District 1M-6 to join the SSAC), Miami BridgePrep Academy (leaving District 1M-8), North Port (leaving District 4S-14), Interlachen (leaving District 2S-6 to join the SSAC), Gainesville Saint Francis Catholic (leaving District 1S-3), and Marathon (leaving District 1S-8).
Teams that were missed on the initial release including Avon Park was listed for independent status while Kissimmee Liberty was added to District 3S-8.