Hawthorne tops final football power poll

Hawthorne Hornets enter field at 2022 Class 1R State Championship game
Hawthorne went 12-0 and claimed its first football state title on Dec. 10. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

The 2022 high school football season has come to a close in the state of Florida and nine state champions were crowned in Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale. 

The only team to take home a state title in the Prep Zone Power Poll area is the Hawthorne Hornets. The 1R state champion was also the only unbeaten team remaining in the rankings. 

And for those reasons, the Hornets ended up on top of the final football poll for 2022. 

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Hawthorne won three playoff games at home against Wildwood, Pahokee, and Blountstown to advance to the state championship game in Tallahassee for the third straight year. 

After finishing as runner-up the last two years, the Hornets (12-0) took care of business at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee as they defeated Northview (Bratt) 13-2 in the 1R state championship game

It’s the first state football title in school history for Hawthorne, who captures six of the eight first-place votes to finish No. 1 in the final rankings. 

Buchholz (Gainesville) and 3S state runner-up Mainland (Daytona Beach) end up in a tie for second place.

Buchholz (10-3) defeated Pace and Crestview at home in the 4S playoffs, then went on the road and knocked off then-No. 2 Bartram Trail (St. Johns), 21-20, in the Region 1-4S final. Buchholz took an even longer trip to Venice the following week for the state semifinal and rallied from a 28-0 deficit before falling 42-35 to the eventual state runners-up. 

It was the second year in a row the Bobcats advanced to the state semifinals. 

Mainland moves up nine spots from the previous poll after advancing to the 3S state championship game. The Bucs (11-4) were the No. 4 seed in Region 3-3S, but beat Rockledge, Jensen Beach, and Dunbar (Fort Myers) to advance to their first state title game appearance since winning their only championship in 2003. Mainland took unbeaten Lake Wales all the way to the end of the championship game at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale before falling 32-30. 

University Christian (Jacksonville) ends up at No. 4. The Christians (11-2) actually fell a spot from the previous rankings despite advancing to the 1M state semifinals. UC knocked off then-No. 1 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) 36-27 in the Region 1-1M final, avenging a 20-13 loss to the Conquerors in the regular season. 

The Christians were beaten at home in the state semifinal round by Clearwater Central Catholic 34-29. UC receives the other two first-place votes. 

Trinity Christian rounds out the top five. The Conquerors (11-1) had been No. 1 in the previous six polls but drop after the upset loss to University Christian. 

Bartram Trail ends up sixth. The Bears (12-1) drop four spots from the previous poll as Buchholz knocked them out in the Region 1-4S final. 

Another state runner-up Trinity Catholic (Ocala) finishes at No. 7. The Celtics (9-3) beat Father Lopez (Daytona Beach), P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) and John Carroll Catholic (Fort Pierce) to advance to the 1S state championship game in Tallahassee. Trinity Catholic, in their first state championship game appearance since 2010, dropped the title game to First Baptist Academy (Naples) 21-3. 

Bradford (Starke) finishes at No. 8. The Tornadoes (12-2) were able to win three state playoff games at home but were eliminated by eventual 2S state champion Cocoa 31-21 in the state semifinal round. 

Bolles (Jacksonville) is up five spots to finish No. 9. The Bulldogs (9-5) were only 6-4 in the regular season, but beat Episcopal (Jacksonville), Bishop Moore (Orlando), and No. 12 Raines (Jacksonville) at home before seeing the season end with a 21-14 loss at eventual 2M state runner-up American Heritage (Plantation) in the state semifinal. 

Lake Minneola (Minneola) rounds out the top 10. The Hawks (10-2) advanced to the Region 2-4S final where they were eliminated by eventual state champion Lakeland. 

Among the second 10 are Columbia (Lake City), who finishes at No. 11 as they advanced to the 3S state semifinal, and Union County (Lake Butler), who ends up at No. 14 after losing in the 1R state semifinal to Northview

Suwannee (Live Oak) finished tied at No. 15 with Creekside (St. Johns). The Bulldogs went 10-3 and fell to the Florida High Seminoles in the 2S Region 1 Final.

Chiefland fell to No. 20 after falling to Pahokee 50-28 in the 1R Region 4 Semifinals a week after dominating Newberry in the region quarterfinals. The Indians finished their season with a 7-3 record. Chiefland advanced to the state semifinals last season before losing to eventual state champion Madison County.

Eastside (9-3) received four votes after claiming its first district title in 10 years and defeating North Marion, 27-14, in the 2S Region 2 Quarterfinals before falling to Bradford in the region semifinals.

Baker County is the only team new to the rankings, as the Wildcats are tied for No. 18 with Baldwin. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) falls out from the previous poll. 

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2022 FOOTBALL POLL #13 (FINAL POLL)

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final 2022 record, and total voting points)

Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.

1. Hawthorne (1R) (6) (12-0) – 153

2T. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (10-3) – 138

2T. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (10-4) – 138

4. University Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (2) (11-2) – 132

5. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (11-1) – 121

6. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (12-1) – 120

7. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (9-3) – 119

8. Bradford (Starke) (2S) (12-2) – 110

9. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-5) – 94

10. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (4S) (10-2) – 93

11. Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (9-4) – 76

12. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-3) – 70

13. South Sumter (Bushnell) (2S) (12-1) – 63

14. Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (8-3) – 50

15T. Creekside (St. Johns) (4S) (9-3) – 46

15T. Suwannee (Live Oak) (2S) (10-3) – 46

17. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (8-4) – 31

18T. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (9-4) – 19

18T. Baldwin (2S) (9-3) – 19

20. Chiefland (1R) (7-3) – 13

Also receiving votes: DeLand (4S) (6-5) – 8; Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 5; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (3M) (8-3) – 5; Eastside (Gainesville) (2S) (9-3) – 4; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 3; Ed White (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-3) – 1; St. Augustine (3S) (7-4) – 1.

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Alan Findley

Buchholz would beat Hawthorne by 30