The 2023 high school football season will get underway for most teams in the Prep Zone Power Poll Friday night.
And the preseason poll starts off with some teams who hope to carry successful 2022 seasons into this fall.
Mainland (Daytona Beach), who just missed on a 3S state title last December, losing a 32-30 heartbreaker to Lake Wales in Fort Lauderdale. Despite only garnering one first-place vote, the Bucs ended up with more points than anyone to start the 2023 season at No. 1.
Mainland opens their season at rival RV (receiving votes) DeLand on Friday.
Defending 1R state champion Hawthorne starts the new season second. Despite receiving seven of the 12 first-place votes, the Hornets are five points behind Mainland. Hawthorne opens defense of their first state football title at home Friday against Middleburg.
Buchholz (Gainesville) is at No. 3. The Bobcats, who are coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances, also receive one first-place vote. Bucholz must replace head coach Mark Whittemore and last year’s Florida Mr. Football Creed Whittemore. They face a tough test to start the 2023 season on Friday night at No. 10 Columbia (Lake City).
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) is at No. 4. The Conquerors, who were knocked off the Region 1-1M final last season by University Christian, pick up two first-place votes to start the new season. Trinity Christian opens Friday against RV Ed White (Jacksonville).
Rounding out the top five is Bartram Trail (St. Johns). The Bears, who brought in Corey Johns to replace long-time head coach Darrell Sutherland, who retired after last season. Bartram Trail receives the final first-place vote.
University Christian starts off the second five. The Christians knocked off Trinity Christian but then were eliminated by Clearwater Central Catholic in the 1M state semifinal. University Christian has a tough assignment for their opening game, hosting No. 13 Raines (Jacksonville) on Friday.
Bradford (Starke), who lost to eventual 2S state champion Cocoa 31-21 in a state semifinal game last December, starts this season at No. 7. The Tornadoes also have a tough test to start, hosting rival No. 17 Baker County (Glen St. Mary). Bradford defeated Baker County twice in 2022, including in the Region 1-2S final.
Another state runner-up from last season, Trinity Catholic (Ocala), comes in at No. 8. The Celtics advanced to the 1S state title game in Tallahassee last winter before being knocked off by First Baptist (Naples), 21-3.
Bolles (Jacksonville) is ninth. The Bulldogs lost four games in the regular season in 2022 and lost the district title to Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville). But Bolles got hot in the postseason, knocking off Raines, Bishop Moore (Orlando) and Episcopal (Jacksonville) to advance to the 2M state semifinals. The Bulldogs took the long trip to South Florida to face American Heritage (Plantation) and came up just a bit short, 21-14.
Bolles opens their season Friday at home against No. 20 St. Augustine.
Rounding out the top 10 is another state semifinalist from a year ago, Columbia. The Tigers defeated Lincoln (Tallahassee), Escambia (Pensacola), and Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach) before losing 37-7 at eventual 3S state champion Lake Wales.
Among the second 10 teams from the Mainstreet Daily News area is 16th-ranked Union County (Lake Butler). The Tigers also made it to a 1R state semifinal last season, dropping a tough 21-11 game in the Panhandle against Northview (Bratt). Union County opens at home against Interlachen.
Suwannee (Live Oak) is at No. 18. The Bulldogs, who lost at eventual 2S state runner-up Florida High (Tallahassee) in the region finals, open their 2023 campaign against Flagler Palm Coast.
Receiving votes in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area are Williston, Newberry, Eastside (Gainesville), Chiefland and Fort White.
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 – 2023 FOOTBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON 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. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (1) (10-4) – 220
2. Hawthorne (1R) (7) (12-0) – 215
3. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (1) (10-3) – 202
4. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (2) (11-1) – 193
5. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (1) (12-1) – 188
6. University Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (11-2) – 173
7. Bradford (Starke) (2S) (12-2) – 168
8. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (9-3) – 164
9. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-5) – 150
10. Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (9-4) – 123
11. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (8-4) – 111
12. South Sumter (Bushnell) (2S) (12-1) – 76
13. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (9-3) – 73
14. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (4S) (10-2) – 67
15. Creekside (St. Johns) (4S) (9-3) – 61
16. Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (8-3) – 55
17. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (9-4) – 46
18. Suwannee (Live Oak) (2S) (10-3) – 45
19. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (4M) (5-5) – 31
20. St. Augustine (3S) (7-4) – 27
Also receiving votes: Baldwin (2S) (9-3) – 15; DeLand (4S) (6-5) – 13; Williston (1R) (10-1) – 12; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 9; Newberry (1R) (6-4) – 8; Chiefland (1R) (7-3) – 6; Madison County (1R) (4-7) – 6; Eastside (Gainesville) (2S) (9-3) – 5; Ed White (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-3) – 5; Lafayette (Mayo) (1R) (10-3) – 4; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (3M) (8-3) – 3; Fort White (1R) (6-5) – 1.