9 area high school football teams likely to make the FHSAA regionals – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Venice and Palmetto have secured their spots as district champions

Nine area high school football teams are projected to qualify for the FHSAA playoffs, either as a district champion or by receiving an at-large bid.

The only area district champions are Venice High (Class 8A-District 12) and Palmetto High (7A-11), meaning they are home for at least the first round of the playoffs. 

Venice will be the top seed in Class 8A-Region 3 and will have the home-field advantage as long as it remains in the playoffs.

Riverview is a lock to make the playoffs in 8A-3 and likely will be the fifth seed. If so, the Rams will be on the road at fourth-seeded Lutz Steinbrenner in the first round.

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FHSAA Class 8A football state playoff preview

Chris Boyle, Dennis Maffezzoli, Emilee Smarr and Bryan Cooney preview the Class 8A football playoffs and predict the regional champions.

Jon Santucci, Treasure Coast Newspapers

Sarasota could have been the third area team in 8A-3. Entering Friday’s game vs. Braden River the Sailors were ninth in the regional rankings and needed to jump Plant City to get into the eighth spot and not get overtaken by Tampa Plant. The Sailors lost to the Pirates and Plant City defeated Ruskin Lennard, so it is highly unlikely Sarasota will qualify. The eighth seed will travel to Venice.

No other 7A area teams will join Palmetto High in the playoffs. 

Braden River High and Charlotte High will be awarded Class 6A at-large berths — the Pirates in Region 3 and the Tarpons in Region 4. Both teams will be on the road for the region quarterfinals.

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Although Southeast High is currently ranked eighth in 6A-3, the Seminoles will get jumped by ninth-place Clearwater Countryside, a district champion, and will not have enough points to slip past Gulfport Boca Ciega, currently sixth but will drop to eighth after Countryside and district champion Riverview Sumner (seventh) move up among the top four. Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg Northeast and Boca Ciega all finished 4-1 in 6A-11 and are ahead of the Seminoles, who had their game Friday at home against Manatee High canceled because of inclement weather. 

Even after losing the district title on Week 10 at Sebring, Port Charlotte should make it in 5A-3, as an eighth seed, providing the Pirates hold off Hudson, which blanked Hudson Fivay on Friday. Port Charlotte (seventh) and Hudson (eighth) will get jumped by Tampa Chamberlain, which went 2-0 in a three-team district and is ranked 10th. Port Charlotte must complete its home game against Lakeland Kathleen on Saturday, a game the Pirates lead 19-8 at halftime.

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FHSAA Class 4A football state playoff preview

Emilee Smarr, Dennis Maffezzoli, Brian McCallum and Clayton Freeman preview the Class 6A football playoffs and predict the regional champions.

Jon Santucci, Treasure Coast Newspapers

Lemon Bay will likely be the second seed in Class 4A-Region 3 behind St. Petersburg Lakewood. 

Idle in Week 11, Cardinal Mooney should be a lock for one of the six spots in Class 3A-Region 3.

In its return to the FHSAA after five years in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, Bradenton Christian should make the Class 2A-Region 3 playoffs, as long as the Panthers do not get overtaken by Naples St. John Neumann.

The FHSAA will come out with its playoff pairings on Sunday.

Dennis Maffezzoli is the deputy sports editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and chief reporter for Sarasota Herald-Tribune and HTpreps covering Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Support local journalism by subscribing.