By STEVE JACKSON
The four-game drive to the state trophy room in the FHSAA brought a happy ending for the eight state champs in their divisions. Five of the state champs earned their 2021 crowns in Ft. Lauderdale. Winners of the 6A crown from Hillsborough County and Tampa were the Jesuit High Tigers. Trailing 29-20 after three quarters, Jesuit rallied with 15 fourth-quarter points to win its 2021 crown. The Tigers completed a 15-0 mark by topping Pine Forest Eagles of Pensacola in the finals at Ft. Lauderdale last weekend.
The Venice High Indians swamped Apopka, 35-7, to claim the 8A crown. The Indians only loss of a 14-1 campaign was a regular season 28-22 October setback to Cardinal Gibbons of Ft. Lauderdale.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the 42-14 whipping endured by Tampa Bay Tech for the 7A crown. St. Thomas Aquinas of Ft. Lauderdale administered the rout last weekend. It was the first loss of the 14-1 season for TBT.
Miami Central Rockets blew away the Merritt Island Mustangs, 49-14, to grab the title in 5A. Glory in 4A was claimed by the Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs of Ft. Lauderdale, who nipped Cocoa High, 21-19.
The annual FHSAA Drive to December culminated the previous weekend for Classes 1A, 2A & 3A at Gene Cox Stadium. In partnership with Visit Tallahassee and Leon County Schools for the third consecutive year, three Florida High School Football State Champions were crowned in the state capital of Tallahassee.
Small-school powerhouse Madison County came out of the Panhandle to squeeze out a 13-12 win over the Hawthorne Hornets to parlay a 12-3 record into a 1A crown. Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy, with a 41-23 over Champagnat Catholic of Hialeah, took the 2A title. Berkeley Prep of Tampa could not mount any offense and fell 21-0 to Chaminade-Madonna High of Hollywood, whose shutout earned the 3A title.
Event notables this year included perennial powers Champagnat (Hialeah), Trinity Christian (Jacksonville), Madison County (Madison) and Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood), returning to climb their way up the state’s overall leaderboard in championships. A match up in Class 2A featured Trinity Christian, last year’s 3A state champion and nine-time champion overall, against Champagnat, a four-time winner overall and winner of three consecutive titles in Class 2A. The Class 3A game saw newcomer Berkeley Prep (Tampa), making its first-ever title game appearance in school history, against Chaminade-Madonna, winners of five overall championships since 2003. The weekend’s final match up in Class 1A pitted rivals Madison County, also winners of five overall titles, against Hawthorne, a team making just its second overall and second consecutive tital-game appearance.
The Florida High School Athletic Association has announced a repeat for the sites for the next season semi-final and championship games. The 2022 state championship games for Class 8A-4A will be played at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The Class 3A-1A state championships will be played at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.
Spring practices for high schools open the last week in April.
The 2021 Florida High Schools’ season ended Dec. 20 with the annual East-West All Star game at the Hillsborough High Stadium. See results in next week’s Observer News (print and digital).
The winners of the 2020 FHSAA football championships were 8A-Seminole of Sanford; 7A- St. Thomas Aquinas of Ft. Lauderdale; 6A-Central of Miami; 5A-American Heritage of Plantation; 4A- Cardinal Gibbons of Ft. Lauderdale; 3A-Trinity Christian of Jacksonville; 2A-Champagnat of Hialeah; 1A-Baker.