| Columns |

Miami-Dade High-School Football Teams Dominated State Championship Games

The Miami Northwestern Bulls were among five Miami-Dade high-school football teams to win state titles this past weekend.EXPAND
The Miami Northwestern Bulls were among five Miami-Dade high-school football teams to win state titles this past weekend.
Photo via Florida High School Athletic Association
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Last week, South Florida high-school football teams claimed seven of eight state titles, beating the crap out of teams from Central and North Florida. What's even sweeter is three of those championships were won by Miami-Dade inner-city public schools: Miami Northwestern, Miami Central, and Booker T. Washington.

This amazing feat was made possible by significant changes to the way the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) classifies teams in each district. Miami-Dade Public Schools board vice chairman Steve Gallon III had mounted a campaign to reform a system that forced schools including Northwestern, Central, and Booker T. to beat each other up to reach a state title game in the same district.

"Many were quietly comfortable with the system that not only allowed but perpetuated 'competitive cannibalism' among mainly Black, inner-city schools," Gallon told me in a recent email. "They were cool with our kids beating the hell of out each other at their own expense and loss." Meanwhile, public schools in Central and North Florida and private school powerhouses such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Christopher Columbus, Champagnat Catholic School, and Chaminade-Madonna, which won the four other 2019 state titles, had an easier road by playing less talented district rivals.

In December 2018, Gallon persuaded Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and his colleagues on the school board to reclassify inner-city schools based on the current enrollment because the populations of those schools has fluctuated. It was time to do a proper head count. Two days after the vote, the FHSAA reclassified all schools in the state to avoid having it imposed on the association.

At the same time, the FHSAA also sought to limit the number of Miami-Dade inner-city schools competing for different district titles by implementing a rating system that ranked teams based on their own winning percentage and the winning percentage of opponents. It didn't work, because three inner-city schools still made it to the playoffs and won titles.

The FHSAA also switched the site of state title games from Camping World Stadium in Orlando to the Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee and to Daytona Stadium in Daytona Beach. None of the Miami-Dade public school teams had to travel all the way to the state capital, but conditions at Daytona Stadium were a disaster. According to the Orlando Sentinel, getting in and out of the stadium for the Miami Northwestern game took more than an hour. Cheerleaders from Miami Northwestern had to run from their bus to the stadium to be on the field on time. There were also problems with the scoreboard and wireless connectivity.

Next year, the FHSAA will surely find more ways to make the state playoffs an uncomfortable experience for Miami-Dade high-school football teams. It'll be interesting to see what the good old boys from Gainesville and Tallahassee come up with next.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.