Seven area high school football teams will fight for state championships after the FHSAA relespansed the postsespanson brspanckets Sunday.
Two teams earned No. 1 seeds as district champions Vero Beach and John Carroll Catholic will have home-field advantage in their quests to win regional championships.
The regional quarterfinals will feature two rematches of local teams as District 12-3S champion Jensen Beach will host Port St. Lucie in a 2-7 matchup and Martin County will get another shot at Treasure Coast in a 3-6 matchup for the District 12-4S schools.
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Centennial climbed from seventh to fifth in the final rankings by virtue of their win over Port St. Lucie in Week 11 and will travel to fourth seed Melbourne next week.
Complete schedules with game times will be released in the coming days by the FHSAA.
TCPalm dives in to the five biggest takeaways from the playoff reveal setting up what you need to know for the start of the postseason.
Vero Beach and John Carroll Catholic lead the way
Both programs will enter the postseason with one loss but their playoff paths will be very different.
In 1S, John Carroll Catholic only needs two wins to win their region while Vero Beach will need three in 4S.
Both teams will have the luxury of sleeping in their beds preparing for games as long as they continue winning and each team has high hopes to make noise in their classes.
Vero Beach boasts six wins over playoff-bound teams and had a well-deserved week off after a thrilling 10-7 overtime win over Treasure Coast that secured the District 12-4S title.
John Carroll Catholic has four wins over playoff teams and with an extra week to prepare for its first playoff game will be well-rested.
Harmony is Vero Beach’s first test in the 1-8 matchup and the Longhorns enter with a 6-4 record. Harmony has a win over Palm Bay, a close loss to Melbourne and impressively dispatched St. Cloud 44-0 in their season finale on its resume.
A rematch for the District 6-1S title is what John Carroll Catholic faces as Cardinal Mooney will return to Fort Pierce to try and flip the on a 26-3 win for the Rams on Oct. 14.
The Cougars enter the matchup on a three-game winning streak.
Two local-local matchups highlight first round
Intrigue surrounds two games featuring area schools in the first round.
Jensen Beach, who went 8-2, earned the second seed in Region 3-3S and will get to host Port St. Lucie in a rematch of a game on Oct. 3 that went to the Falcons in a 27-0 win.
Getting over the pain of a heartbreaking 27-22 loss to rival Martin County in Week 11 falling on a 95-yard kickoff return on the game’s final play is something Jensen Beach needs to get over quickly to readjust their goals.
The Jaguars will enter this game equally concerned with their 59-0 loss to Centennial in Week 11 and hoping to figure out a different way to attack Jensen Beach from their first meeting.
The aforementioned Tigers boldened by their huge wins against Vero Beach and against the Falcons have won four straight games to get the chance to host a regional quarterfinal at home.
Waiting is a team many will believe is a Final Four darkhorse in Treasure Coast and for the Titans, they’ve already shown they can handle what Martin County presents in a 28-7 win on Sept. 16 that only went a half due to weather.
While the Tigers look different from that point, the strength and size Treasure Coast has combined with the fact they’ll be underdogs on paper is going to be a tough combination for Martin County to tackle even being at home.
Centennial rises late
The Eagles with their 59-0 thrashing of Port St. Lucie in Week 11 made the most notable jump in the RPI going from seventh to fifth.
The keys for Centennial were those ahead of them losing as DeLand was defeated 40-28 by Flagler Palm Coast, who recently had to forfeit four games due to an ineligible player.
DeLand’s loss to a team with on paper only three wins plummeted them from a 9.46 rating all the way down to 6.176 and combined with Treasure Coast losing 45-6 to Chaminade-Madonna, the Bulldogs dropped below the Titans and will be the No. 7 seed in Region 3-4S.
Centennial’s good fortune places them in a 4-5 matchup where they will travel to Melbourne, who has won five straight games to end the regular season including an impressive 13-7 win over Eau Gallie in Week 11.
Compared to some of its projected matchups going into the final week, the Eagles will feel they can compete with the Bulldogs with the strong schedule they’ve played in their district as well as games against the likes of DeLand, Clewiston and Lake Brantley.
Who has the best shot to make it to state?
With the fewest number of games required, John Carroll Catholic is the easiest answer when you factor in what the Rams possess.
A balanced offense featuring one of the area’s best running back junior Tony Colebrook, a veteran offensive line that also features top-flight freshman Champ Smith and a defense filled with talent led by Auburn commit Wilky Denaud on the defensive line and Lehigh commit Aidan Singleton in the secondary has John Carroll going in with high expectations.
The familiarity with their pod in Region 3-1S with two teams they’ve defeated already in Cardinal Mooney and Victory Christian leaves John Carroll Catholic with one team they need to worry about they haven’t seen.
No. 2 Lakeland Christian’s strength of schedule is -0.98 but at 8-1, the Vikings do have wins against playoff teams Frostproof and Fort Meade as well as Victory Christian, who they defeated 28-27 in overtime on Oct. 14.
As the other No. 1 seed in a region, Vero Beach has shown they have a defense that can challenge different offensive schemes which they will see in Region 3-4S.
The injury to starting quarterback and SMU commit Tyler Aronson puts a lot of pressure on junior Jake Whiteley to perform but having the likes of Florida State wide receiver Vandrevius Jacobs, one of the stat leaders in all of Florida in the major categories is a great security blanket to have.
How far can Treasure Coast go?
The brute of a schedule the Titans played was done with the thought of preparing the team for the games that really mattered.
With a 3-6 record, Treasure Coast will not sneak up on anyone with the state knowing how dangerous the Titans are with the offensive scheme and skill on both sides of the ball.
If the Titans find a way to replicate what they did to Martin County earlier this season, another possible rematch looms with No. 2 seed Osceola.
The two teams played all the way back on Aug. 26 in their season opener and a 14-5 win for the Kowboys showed the two teams aren’t far apart with how physical each is on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Osceola’s three losses all came to state powers Seminole, Lakeland and Jones by a combined 15 points.
For Treasure Coast’s senior class led by SMU offensive lineman commit Alex Woods and West Virginia defensive lineman commit Corey McIntyre, Jr., a dream run to a state semifinal for a second year in a row would have to go through Vero Beach, who just clipped the Titans 10-7 in overtime.
A second matchup between the two teams with the stakes at hand would be a must-see if it materializes.
State playoff matchups
(4) Cardinal Mooney at (1) John Carroll Catholic
(3) Victory Christian at (2) Lakeland Christian
(7) Port St. Lucie at (2) Jensen Beach
(6) Merritt Island at (3) Sebring
(8) Harmony at (1) Vero Beach
(5) Centennial at (4) Melbourne
(7) Deland at (2) Osceola
(6) Treasure Coast at (3) Martin County