Who are Palm Beach County's Top 10 teams after first FHSAA power rankings? 4 make Top 50
By Emilee Smarr, Palm Beach Post,2023-09-26
The Florida High School Athletics Association has released its first power rankings for the 2023 football season and it's time to see where Palm Beach County teams fell in the mix.
With four local teams in the top 50 of the state, the second half of the regular season is going to be filled with battles for the ages — as if the first half didn't offer enough.
Get the names of which teams to know and those you may be missing below.
Who are Palm Beach County's top 10 teams according to the FHSAA?
No. 5: Cardinal Newman (4-0)
If Atlantic had walked away with the victory in Week 5, Newman would be in a drastically different place, but the Crusaders' regular-season winning streak, now 14-0, remained untouched.
Newman's 14-7 win over the Eagles sees coach Jack Daniels and crew start out at the No. 5 overall slot in the FHSAA's first release of Power Rankings for 2023. Whether they keep the coveted top spot among ranked Palm Beach County teams will be determined by Miami-Northwestern, 1-4 against a raft of gritty competition (rated 3.77), including Vero Beach, Venice, Edison, and, most recently, Class 4M state champion Columbus.
A strength-of-schedule rating of 5.21 is the third-highest in Class 1M behind region finalist Chaminade-Madonna (10.66) and Somerset Academy Key's 5.68. Likely region semifinal opponent Benjamin's strength of schedule is on the lower end at 0.33.
Standings: No. 2 in 1M and Region 3 behind No. 1 overall Chaminade-Madonna, No. 1 in District 5
No. 12: Palm Beach Central (4-0)
Still without a loss in 2023, Palm Beach Central looks to be paving its way back to the Class 4M final four.
Central's best defensive performance of the year came in Week 5's rescheduled meeting with Park Vista, winning 37-7. However, the Bronco defense has been found to struggle against offenses that match the high power of its own, commanded by sophomore quarterback Caleb Butler and junior weapons Nedrick Boldin at running back and Kamare Williams at receiver. Central has allowed 99 points across victories against Creekside, Boca Raton and Pahokee.
An Oct. 6 game against the Bucs in Week 7 will be Central's next measuring stick in the weeks after forcing overtime in the Muck. Regardless of the outcome, when the time comes for playoff seeding, the Broncos will be glad to see a boost in their strength-of-schedule rating (3.52) for facing similarly highly touted teams — even better off should they take the dub.
Meanwhile, Columbus (5-0) sits at No. 28 with a weak group of opponents, as Apopka, which bounced Central from championship contention last December, stands at No. 53 overall, 3-1 against a schedule strength of 5.34.
Standings: No. 1 in Class 4M, No. 1 in Region 3, No. 1 in District 10
No. 33: Benjamin (4-0)
The Buccaneers are riding high at 4-0. Yet, they haven't hit the toughest half of their schedule despite culture-shifting wins over a nationally known Clearwater Academy International team and Gulliver Prep, which hadn't taken a loss to Benjamin since 2018. Buc trenches, led by Chase Malamala, a three-star UCF commit, and stud junior Landon Rapkiewicz, have cleared the way for a seven-touchdown season so far for Super 11 No. 1 Chauncey Bowens.
Most critical to Benjamin's turnaround year from a 5-5 run last fall is the addition of quarterback Jayden Vega. The Martin County transfer's electric arm rewarded Benjamin's receiver room and secondary by giving back last year's QB1 Jacob Cosby-Mosley, a three-star Wake Forest commit, full time.
Standings: No. 4 in Class 1M, No. 3 in Region 3, No. 2 in District 5 behind Cardinal Newman
No. 36: Atlantic (4-1)
Atlantic's defense has kept the Eagles on top and been one to watch since dealing a preseason loss to Palm Beach Central. Seniors Marlon Huff, Karl Luccin and Jayden Parrish, a three-star Florida State commit, have been some of the biggest names credited for stopping losses in one-possession outings against Palm Beach Gardens and Monarch. They nearly did so again last Friday, but another week of havoc on offense saw Atlantic fall to a Power Five-stacked Newman secondary.
Taking a bye in Week 6, the Eagles won't have the opportunity to maneuver their way up the rankings until Week 7's Friday night lights, when Atlantic seeks revenge on Pahokee, which won the matchup 27-14 in 2022.
Standings: No. 4 in Class 3M, No. 2 in Region 3 behind No. 6 overall St. Thomas Aquinas, No. 1 in District 9
No. 61: St. Andrew's (4-1)
An undefeated NSU University team is the only squad that's been able to stop a loaded St. Andrew's roster. In Week 5, the Scots responded the way a team should to a 14-6 loss the week prior, forcing a final score of 62-28 — 28 points in the second quarter — against North Broward Prep.
Last fall, St. Andrew's couldn't get it done to advance beyond the first round of playoffs against Calvary Christian. As his entire team stands at No. 61 in the state and a favorite for a deep run in Class 2M, a stellar stat line for junior ATH Teddy Hoffman suggests the Scots' star took that personally, currently the No. 5 receiver in the state with 594 yards and eight touchdowns on 29 catches.
Standings: No. 5 in 2M, No. 3 in Region 3 behind No. 26 overall American Heritage-Plantation and No. 31 Cardinal Gibbons, No. 1 in District 10
No. 77: Seminole Ridge (4-0)
A 5-5 finish in 2022 makes it hard to believe that Ridge started the season 4-0 before going 1-5 to close out the regular season, missing a return to playoffs. It's been some time since the Hawks have been a consistent candidate for Class 3M playoffs. If senior Ty Jackson has a say though, Ridge might even make region semifinals for the first time since 2011, when the Hawks competed in Class 8A with the likes of Gardens and Central.
Through four games, the three-star linebacker, who picked up an offer from Louisiana State earlier in the month, is averaging 15.8 tackles, recording 63 total — 21 solo — so far this fall. After allowing a single touchdown to Glades Central in Week 1, Jackson and company have forced shutouts against Royal Palm Beach, Forest Hill and Palm Beach Lakes.
Standings: No. 9 in 3M, No. 5 in Region 3, No. 2 in District 9 behind Atlantic
No. 87: Santaluces (4-1)
A long bus ride home from John Curtis Christian in Louisiana saw Santaluces return to Palm Beach County and continue its winning ways with a 42-21 win over Royal Palm Beach.
Like last fall — outside of games against the state champs of the Bayou and Pahokee, who the Chiefs crushed 38-14 in Week 1 — the strength of schedule is lacking. A nice record keeps the "new Santa" in good standing for the FHSAA's initial drop of power rankings. Just don't forget the last two weeks of the 2022 regular season, when a nicely ranked Santaluces was going for a perfect 10-0, but suffered an upset from Park Vista and a 49-7 blowout from Atlantic.
Standings: No. 12 in Class 4M, No. 3 in Region 3 behind Palm Beach Central and No. 71 overall Monarch, No. 1 in District 11
No. 91: Spanish River (5-0)
A -6.23-rated schedule won't go the distance in Class 4M.
For now though, thanks to an FHSAA algorithm that favors being lossless over who the wins are against, it's created a potential first for an uncharacteristically ranked Spanish River, back in the state playoff after taking time away to compete as an independent.
Standings: No. 13 in Class 4M, No. 4 in Region 3, No. 2 in District 11 behind Santaluces
No. 100: King's Academy (4-1)
King's was two points away from claiming the season-opener win against the Scots, and an undefeated record that would've seen the Lions top No. 61 St. Andrew's in the FHSAA's inaugural rankings, and maybe even to a spot in the top 50.
It seems that remembering what it was like to lose, worse yet in heartbreaking double-overtime fashion, has sent the Lions on a dominant streak, most recently claiming a 36-28 win over Gulliver Prep.
Standings: No. 8 in Class 2M, No. 4 in Region 3, No. 1 in District 9
No. 121: Pahokee (3-2)
Granted, a losing Pahokee team would probably still make Class 1R playoffs because of the limited pool of competition, but the Blue Devils are once again a top contender to return to region finals in the FHSAA's long-awaited list. Quarterback Henry Boyd's best performance yet, going 12-for-15 for 226 yards and three touchdowns opposite Kentucky wideout commit Hardley Gilmore, landed PK back in the win column with Week 5's 34-18 win over Palm Beach Gardens.
The Blue Devils have wavered since Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin claimed key pieces of recent years like quarterback Austin Simmons and DeeJay Holmes, Jr., The Post's Defensive Player of the Year for 2022. As a payback game at Dwyer approaches, it seems Pahokee has found its footing at a good time, especially with two open slots on its regular-season schedule swiping opportunities to climb in the rankings.
Standings: No. 8 in 1R, No. 4 in Region 4 behind No. 11 overall Williston, No. 13 overall Hawthorne, and No. 68 overall Newberry
Teams who missed the cut
West Boca Raton (4-1)
Similarly to the Scots, only one team prevented West Boca from staying undefeated — and it was St. Andrew's in overtime. Again, similarly to the Scots, the competition on West Boca's schedule, rated -4.33, is wanting. It's the greatest reason the team doesn't have a higher listing in the power rankings despite the program's quick and dramatic transformation since the arrival of coach Dylan Potts and the offense's Mallory duo, Mason and Javian, in 2022.
A 21-17 win over an unusually talent-drained Deerfield Beach contributed to proving West Boca's legitimacy last fall. No. 359-ranked Deerfield still struggling from blows to the roster, 2-3 in 2023, a greater margin of defeat on the scoreboard in Week 6 won't be as much help to the Bulls in the rankings as it will be a tell of the team's progress in becoming a candidate for the Class 3M playoff.
Standings: No. 166 overall, No. 22 in 3M, No. 8 in Region 3, No. 3 in District 10
Palm Beach Gardens (2-3)
The Gardens offense isn't what it was with former starter Brand Campbell having graduated and now playing at Wabash College. Let it be known it's not for any lack of trying to create possessions from Gator seniors Christian Lopez, Aiden Malcolm and Niko Piatt on the D-line, or safeties Caleb Chamberlin, an Air Force commit, and Mike Wright III, an FAU commit.
That squad and its company, along with coach Tyrone Higgins have been keeping the standard high for 2022 region runner-up Gardens with a gritty schedule — already having featured Vero, Atlantic and Pahokee — but the drop-off in competition for the back end of the season won't do Gardens any favors in the rankings.
Emilee Smarr is The high school sports reporter for the Palm Beach Post. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Who are Palm Beach County's Top 10 teams after first FHSAA power rankings? 4 make Top 50