Three Winter Park-area high schools hope to make a splash in the upcoming FHSAA Playoffs.
The FHSAA announced its football playoff brackets for Classes 1A through 8A Sunday morning via a webcast show that had Twitter abuzz with both excitement and disappointment.
Of the teams covered by the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, three made the cut. Two will host in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 10.
Below is a list of the teams that made it, with first-round opponent and other notes, in descending order based on classification.
All first round playoff games — whether regional semifinals (1A-4A) or regional quarterfinals (5A-8A) — are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10.
Winter Park Wildcats
No. 1 seed in 8A-Region 1
Overall regular season record: (10-0, 4-0)
Class 8A, District 3 champions
Regional quarterfinal matchup: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10 vs. No. 8 Spruce Creek (8-1, 3-1) at Showalter Field
After a perfect 10-0 season in which Winter Park claimed another district title, the Wildcats will play host to Spruce Creek in regional quarterfinal play this Friday.
With only a single loss on the season — a 17-14 stumble to Flagler Palm Coast in mid-October — the Hawks shouldn’t be underestimated, as they will be a tough early test for the Wildcats.
Just like the Wildcats, the Hawks thrive on a high-powered offense. They have outscored opponents 393 to 132 throughout the season — that’s an average of almost 44 points per game. In eight of nine games, the Hawks have put up at least 33 points.
If the Wildcats win, they would face up with either No. 4 Seminole or No. 5 Apopka in the regional semis Nov. 17.
No. 2 seed in 7A-Region 1
Overall regular season record: (8-2, 5-0)
Class 7A, District 3 champions
Regional quarterfinal matchup: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, vs. No. 7 Buchholz (5-5, 2-2) at Edgewater
The Eagles will kick off postseason play against Gainesville’s Buchholz High School, who did enough in the regular season to sneak into the playoffs with a .500 record in both district and overall play.
Although the Bobcats are 5-5, the Eagles’ defense will need to watch for four offensive standouts in quarterbacks Camden Orth and Trent Whittemore, running back Jakhai Mitchem and receiver Isaiah Michel.
Orth and Whittemore have thrown for 18 touchdowns on a combined 1,453 yards on 100 for 179 passes. Whittemore also has rushed for 400 yards on 67 carries for three touchdowns.
Mitchem leads all rushers for 734 yards on 140 carries while picking up 12 touchdowns on the ground.
The Bobcats have multiple 200-plus-yard receivers, but Michel is the clear leader with 695 receiving yards on 38 receptions for seven touchdowns.
If the Eagles win, they would make their way into the regional semis against either No. 3 Lee or No. 6 Fleming Island.
Bishop Moore Hornets
No. 5 seed in Class 5A,
Overall regular season record: (7-2, 3-1)
Regional quarterfinal matchup: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, vs. No. 4 Westwood (6-3, 4-0) at Westwood
After a season in which Bishop Moore fell just short of a Class 5A, District 13 title, the Hornets look to make some early noise in their regional quarterfinal matchup at Westwood.
After starting off the season 0-2, the Panthers rallied back with a 6-1 run and a 4-0 record to seal up a district title and the automatic playoff berth.
The matchup to really watch during this game will be a battle between the Hornets’ explosive offensive and the Panthers’ gritty defense. Through nine games, the Panthers have given up a rather low 22.4 points per game, while the Hornets’ offense has put up an average of 34.4 points per game.
If the offense can put up their usual numbers, while the defense stymies the Panthers’ offense, the Hornets will be looking at a matchup against either the No. 1 American Heritage or No. 8 Merritt Island in the regional semis. There is also the chance, if the Hornets can make a run, to meet up with in-district foe Jones in the regional finals.