State Of The Game, Part II: New District Alignments
This is the second part of our week-long series “The State of the Game”
Every two years, the Florida High School Athletic Association realigns the districts for each sport and each classification. But this year the shakeup has been just a little bit different, as the FHSAA has added two new classifications to bring the total in most large sports to eight classifications, and many teams have seen their districts be completely reshuffled as a result.
Many teams are no longer even playing in the same classification level as they were a year ago, let alone against any of the same teams.
But as this is a normal process that most are fairly accustomed to, for the most part, the changes have been welcomed and in some cases even necessary.
Ironically, the team that stands to benefit the most from it is not even actually a team from the county, but rather one that has simply been playing in a district otherwise compiled of Broward teams. This is Olympic Heights, out of Boca Raton, which has played for the past several seasons in a district with Hallandale, Stranahan, Cardinal Gibbons, Pembroke Pines Charter and two-time defending state champion Archbishop McCarthy. In 2012, the Lions will play in a district with only fellow teams from Palm Beach County, competing in District 14-7A with Atlantic, Lake Worth and West Boca.
“It’s going to be nice to finally stay local,” Lions coach Brian Domenico said. “It’s been a long time, because our last district before that was up in Port St. Lucie and that area.”
Domenico also appreciates the change because Broward County has a different spring break than in Palm Beach County, which always made scheduling spring break tournaments challenging. Plus now that Heights is competing in a smaller district, it creates more flexibility in who the Lions can schedule.
But home in Broward, there are some differences of note as well.
“Nova and St. Thomas used to understand how it would be for us,” said Dillard coach Daniel Lozinsky, recognizing that there are huge differences in abilities between his Panthers and these teams. “We’ll have to see what it will be like now in a new district.”
Also from the Panthers’ old district is Northeast, which now plays in District 15-7A with Boyd Anderson, Coconut Creek and Monarch.
“It’s exciting because we have a really good chance to make it to the next round this year,” Hurricanes coach Kevin Carney said. “Plus we get a chance now to play in a district against some teams we’ve really never played before.”
The district is an even playing ground this year rather than an uphill battle for the Hurricanes, with Monarch likely to be their biggest district rival.
As far as district rivalries are concerned, there was one district that for the past few years had some fierce rivalries based upon the fact that all five teams in the district were legitimate contenders. These teams included American Heritage, North Broward Prep, Pine Crest, Coral Springs Charter and Pompano Beach. Every district game was like a playoff game.
“It puts pressure on every game,” agreed Pompano Beach coach Ryan Combs, whose Tornadoes will now play in District 16-3A with Dillard, Hallandale and American Heritage. “As far as rivalries, we have one focus and that is American Heritage. We don’t want to overlook any one else, but we’re glad we still have that rivalry. We hope to play American Heritage four times this year.”
Across the county, many teams are facing these same adjustments as they enter new districts and work on some new rivalries.
This season Ely will not compete in a district and will play primarily a junior varsity schedule.
“This way they have a chance,” said the Tigers’ athletic director and former baseball coach Rojesterman Farris. “It’s the only way to build it up is to actually get to play some teams and be on the field. I just felt it had to be done. It was something we needed for the program.”
For some of the larger programs in the largest classification of 8A, the changes are very minimal. It’s the same teams it has been, and they are still big districts. But in most other cases, it has a whole new feel, and there is a collective optimism for many teams.
2012 DISTRICT ASSIGNMENTS
St. Thomas Aquinas
Pembroke Pines Charter
Coral Springs Charter
North Broward Prep
Coral Springs Christian
South Florida HEAT
Our series continues with a look at how playing only 20 games in the regular season is affecting teams across the county.