State Tournament Primer: Florida

(Photo: Sean Jordan/Instagram)

While many parts of the country may only be a at the halfway point of the 2021 high school season, many states in the South are either on the back half of the regular season or already in playoff mode, except for the NCHSAA (North Carolina) who crowned their state champions almost a full month ago.

Florida and South Carolina will both begin state tournament play this week, with the SCHSL getting the first round underway on Tuesday and Wednesday while the FHSAA gets things underway on Thursday.

Here is a brief overview of each of the 1A and 2A state tournaments in Florida, as well as some players to keep an eye on. With the 2020 season being cut short, this is the first year where the FHSAA will have a 1A and 2A champion.

FHSAA 1A

The 1A State Tournament will get underway on Friday April 23rd with the first round and the championship game will be held on May 8th.

St. Andrew’s is the clear favorite in the 1A tournament. The Scots (12-0) have seemingly passed every test thrown at them this season, going undefeated and earning marquee wins over Oxbridge, who they beat in the district 13 title game, and St. Thomas Aquinas. The Scots will face Pine Crest (12-1) in the first round.

Belen Jesuit (18-0) is also undefeated and will face Gulliver Prep (14-4), who the Wolverines defeated 14-8 in the regular season, in the first round. The Scots and Wolverines could very well face each other in the second round. Gainesville Oak Hall (13-1) is one of the strongest teams in the top half of the bracket, having 6-5 loss against Ponte Vedra as the only blemish on their resume. St. Edward’s (could also be a strong challenger in the top half of the bracket as they beat a strong Benjamin squad in the district 8 title game.

You can view the full Class 1A Bracket here.

Players to Watch

Jack Schulte, Attack, Saint Andrew’s, Sophomore – A pure shooter, the sophomore has put up 30 goals this season and asserted himself as one of the top 2023s in the Sunshine State. He has also dished out 12 assists for 42 points to lead the Scots’ offense.

Danny Richmond, St. Edward’s, Senior – One of the top assist-leaders in the state, Richmond has been one of the leaders of the Pirates’ offense. The attackman has tallied 72 points on 52 assists and 20 goals this season.

Sean Jordan, LSM, Saint Andrew’s Junior (Harvard commit) – Drawing comparisons to Virginia’s Jared Conners, Jordan is seen as not only the best player from Florida in the class, but the best player from the South among 2022s. He has gobbled up 54 ground balls and tallied 19 points (13G/6A).

Gunnar Schwarz, Goalie, Saint Andrew’s Junior (Navy commit) – One of the top goalies in the Sunshine State, Schwarz has been impressive all season. He has made 70 saves with a .673 save percentage.

FHSAA 2A

The 1A State Tournament will get underway on Friday April 23rd with the first round and the championship game will be held on May 8th.

Creekside (12-4) is the hottest team in the state of Florida after knocking off presumed state title favorite Ponte Vedra in the district 3 title game in overtime last week. That big win last week is part of the Knights’ seven-game winning streak that began after falling to Ponte Vedra, 9-8, in the regular season on March 27th.

Outside of the Knights, traditional powers Jupiter (14-1) and St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2) also look to have a shot at ending the season on top. In the two squads meet in the regular season with St. Thomas Aquinas being the only blemish on Jupiter’s resume. The two are very likely to meet in the second round with a ticket to the semifinals at stake. Plant (19-1) is another team in the bottom half of the bracket that could also be a serious challenger for the state title.

You can view the full Class 2A Bracket here.

Players to Watch

Mana Wilhelm, Attack, Junior, Creekside (Air Force commit) – The junior All-American selection has had a very strong season and been one of the leaders of the Creekside offense, looking like one of the best players at his position in the region. No public stats are available from this season.

Max Sanderson, Attack, Senior, Jupiter (Lafayette commit) – A lethal shooter, Sanderson has been the leader of the Warriors’ offense all season long. The senior has put up 61 points and 19 assists for 80 points this season.

Nino Dominguez, LSM/Defense, Senior, St. Thomas Aquinas – One of the headliners of the Raiders’ defense,Dominguez has put together an especially strong season. He leads the team in ground balls with 31.

Zachary Antoniou, Defense, Senior, Plant (Fairfield commit) – The senior has been a consistent presence and impact player on the back end for the Panthers’ defense this season, which has been one of the best in the state and has yet to allow double-digit goals this season.

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