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FHSAA Football: What we know about a potential Open Division and what it would have looked like in 2022

SportsFHSAA Football: What we know about a potential Open Division and what it would have looked like in 2022

Last year, Metro spannd Suburbspann football classes made their debut.

If Florida High School Athletic Association Executive Director Craig Damon has his way, the next major change will be the Open Division.

Damon made his suggestion during the FHSAA’s Football Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday.

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Lakeland celebrates winning the Class 4S state championship game over Venice 21-14 at DRV PNK Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale.

Here’s what we know so far.

What is an Open Division?

The basic concept is the top eight programs in the state on the final rankings would immediately be placed in the Open Division and compete for a state championship. Schools in the open division would not compete for their respective classification state titles as well.

Arizona implemented an Open Division in 2019.

What’s the purpose(s)?

For one, it would be a very exciting tournament that would settle the “Who would win if they played?” questions we have at the end of every season.

Miami Central coach Jube Joseph lifts the Class 2M state championship after the Rockets 38-31 win against American Heritage on Friday at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

It also would end certain teams’ strangleholds on state championships. Miami Central and St. Thomas Aquinas both won their fourth consecutive state championships in December, tying a state record. Chaminade-Madonna has won a state title in five of the past six seasons. An Open Division would certainly shake up the list of state champions each year.  

An Open Division, especially one filled with premier programs and top recruits, also could help the FHSAA land a major TV contract.

When could this go into effect?

Damon was just starting the conversation with the Football Advisory Committee. The soonest it could go into effect — if it were approved by the Football Advisory Committee, Athletic Directors Advisory Committee and FHSAA Board of Directors — would be the 2024 season.

What would the Open Division have looked like last year?

Here were the top eight schools on the final FHSAA football rankings in 2022.

1. Miami Central

2. Edgewater

3. St. Thomas Aquinas

4. Trinity Christian

5. Bartram Trail

6. Chaminade-Madonna

7. Columbus

8. Plantation-American Heritage

Damon also said the FHSAA could potentially have two Open Divisions — one for schools with an enrollment over 1,500 and one for schools under 1,500. Here’s what those brackets would have looked like in 2022.

Schools with an enrollment over 1,500

1. Edgewater

2. St. Thomas Aquinas

3. Bartram Trail

4. Columbus

5. Plantation-American Heritage

6. Lakeland

7. Pine Forest

8. Jones

Outside looking in: Sanford-Seminole, Niceville, Dillard, Vero Beach, Miami Norland, Venice, Blanche Ely, Palm Beach Central

Schools with an enrolment under 1,500

1. Miami Central

2. Trinity Christian

3. Chaminade-Madonna

4. University Christian

5. Clearwater Central Catholic

6. Cardinal Gibbons

7. Florida High

8. Miami-Booker T. Washington

Outside looking in: Hawthorne, Bradford, Pahokee, South Sumter, Miami Northwestern, Tampa Catholic, North Florida Christian, Andrew Jackson.

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