Home Sports High school football: FHSAA Class 3M state tournament playoff preview

High school football: FHSAA Class 3M state tournament playoff preview

High school football: FHSAA Class 3M state tournament playoff preview

The USA TODAY Florida Network breaks down the Floridspan high school footbspanll plspanyoffs region by region. Here’s a look at what to expect in Class 3M.

Roundup:USA Todspany Network reporters brespank down the FHSAA footbspanll plspanyoffs

Region 1

Edward Gwinn of Tampa Bay Tech leads his team on the field to take on St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A state championship game at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

First round

(1) Edgewater vs. (8) First Coast 

(4) Fletcher vs. (5) Tampa Bay Tech 

(3) Oviedo vs. (6) Wharton

(2) Jones vs. (7) Wekiva  

Burning question 

Is this the best region in the state?

That’s a tough one, but there are some exceptional teams in this region. Edgewater was the Class 7A state runner-up in 2019 and 2020. Tampa Bay Tech was the Class 7A state runner-up last year. Jones was a Final Four team a year ago. Wharton was a regional finalist in 2021. Not sure if this is the best region in the state but it is definitely loaded with teams that know how to win in the postseason. 

Recruit to watch 

Cedric Baxter Jr. (Edgewater RB)

The Texas commit is No. 6 on the USA Today Florida Network top 100 and the top-ranked running back in the state. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, has been dealing with a nagging injury, but when healthy he’s arguably the most complete running back in the nation. 

Potential matchup we’d pay to see 

Edgewater vs. Tampa Bay Tech (regional semifinal)

Region 2

Jesuit takes the field to play Pine Forest in the Class 6A state championship game at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL  Dec. 17, 2021.

First round

(1) Jesuit vs. (8) St. Petersburg

(4) Gaither vs. (5) Pinellas Park

(3) East Bay vs. (6) Osceola (Seminole) 

(2) Largo vs. (7) Northeast 

Burning question 

Will Jesuit’s rough regular-season schedule pay off?

The Class 6A state champions last season, Jesuit loaded its schedule with elite opponents to prepare a younger squad for the postseason. The Tigers’ strength of schedule (Wharton, Treasure Coast, Columbus, Armwood, Clearwater Central Catholic, Gaither, Tampa Bay Tech and Tampa Catholic) was hands-down the toughest in the region. 

Recruit to watch 

Eugene Wilson III (Gaither WR)

Jesuit senior linebacker Troy Bowles is the highest-ranked player in the region, but Wilson is the most electric. The Florida commit, ranked No. 41 on the USA Today Florida Network top 100, missed some time this season but reminded everyone what he can do with a nine-catch, 243-yard, three-touchdown performance against Durant on Oct. 21. 

Potential matchup we’d pay to see 

Jesuit vs. Largo (regional final)

Region 3

Fort Myers hosts St. Thomas Aquinas in high school football on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in Fort Myers. The two teams also played each other 30 years ago in 1992.

First round

(1) St. Thomas Aquinas vs. (8) Coconut Creek 

(4) Atlantic vs. (5) Plantation

(3) Blanche Ely vs. (6) Dwyer 

(2) Dillard vs. (7) Fort Lauderdale 

Burning question 

Is there a legitimate challenger to Aquinas?

Death, taxes and Aquinas in the state championship game. It’s just one of those things you expect to happen. So, can any of these teams stop it from happening? Dillard is loaded with talent and is one of the few teams that can match up with the Raiders from a talent perspective. Ely has had a season to remember, and belief is something that can’t be underestimated. It would be an upset, but Aquinas will have ready challengers. 

Recruit to watch 

King Mack (St. Thomas Aquinas S)

Mack and fellow Penn State commit Conrad Hussey might be the best safety duo in the country. (Yes, country, not county.)  The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder has a knack for being around the ball. He had 37 tackles, five passes defended and blocked two kicks in eight games this season. 

Potential matchup we’d pay to see 

St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Dillard (regional final)

Region 4

First round

(1) Homestead vs. (8) North Miami 

(4) Belen Jesuit vs. (5) Dr. Krop 

(3) Miami Southridge vs. (6) South Broward 

(2) Miramar vs. (7) Pembroke Pines Charter

Burning question 

Is this Homestead’s year?

Well, if the Broncos are healthy, it could be. Homestead’s first loss came against Columbus in a Week 6 battle of two teams that were undefeated at the time. Homestead has notable wins against Miami Palmetto, Lakewood and Miami Northwestern this season and will be the team to beat in Region 4. 

Recruit to watch 

Richard Dandridge (Homestead WR)

The 5-foot-10,160-pound Temple commit is an outstanding receiver and a player who defenses have to account for on every play. Dandridge plays bigger than his size, has strong hands and has the ability to make defenders miss. He’s going to play in the slot in college, but Homestead will line him up across the formation. 

Potential matchup we’d pay to see 

Homestead vs. Miramar (regional final)


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