Seven area football teams ranked in top 20

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There were a few surprises in the opening round of the high school playoffs last week. 

Only four ranked teams in the Prep Zone Power Poll lost their playoff openers. And while there is some movement in the back of the rankings, the top 10 mostly remained the same as three of the top four had byes last week. 

Despite being off, Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) remains No. 1 again this week. The Conquerors (10-0) receive six first-place votes, and open up play in the Region 1-1M semifinal Friday against Orlando Christian Prep. 

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The only team in the top four to play last week was Bartram Trail (St. Johns). After falling behind 14-0 early, the Bears (11-0) scored 37 straight points to blow out Flagler Palm Coast, 50-20, in a Region 1-4S quarterfinal. The Bears receive the other three first-place votes and now host rival and No. 11 Creekside (St. Johns) in a region semifinal on Friday. 

Creekside advanced to play Bartram Trail after a 47-20 romp on the road in the Panhandle against Navarre. 

University Christian (Jacksonville) was also on bye last week and remains No. 3. The Christians (9-1) start their playoffs in a Region 1-1M semifinal on Friday against The First Academy (Orlando). 

Buchholz's Creed Whittemore with a run against Pace on Friday.
Photo by Taryn Ashby Buchholz’s Creed Whittemore scored five touchdowns against Pace last Friday. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)

Hawthorne is ranked at No. 4 after also being off last week. The Hornets, the number one seed in Region 4-1R, are home Friday in a region semifinal against RV (received votes) Wildwood.

Wildwood ended the season of undefeated and then No. 18 Williston, 46-35, on the road last Saturday. With the loss, the Red Devils fall out of the poll this week. 

Buchholz (Gainesville) rounds out the top five once again. The Bobcats (8-2) survived Pace 35-34 in a Region 1-4S quarterfinal game that was played at Newberry High School due to Hurricane Nicole. Buchholz trailed 34-27 with 2:20 left but senior quarterback Creed Whittemore took the Bobcats 95 yards to the end zone, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass. Whittemore then ran in the two-point conversion to give Buchholz the win in an exciting finish. 
Buchholz, back at Citizens Field this Friday, faces another tough Panhandle team in Crestview in a region semifinal. 

Lake Minneola (Minneola) starts off the second five. The Hawks (9-1) blasted Bartow 63-20 in their playoff opener and are home again this week in a Region 2-4S semifinal against Winter Haven. 

Moving up two spots to No. 7 is Raines (Jacksonville). The Vikings (8-2) picked up a key road win in a Region 1-2M quarterfinal, winning at then-No. 13 Ed White (Jacksonville), 34-22. Raines now hosts a surprise team in Riverside, the No. 8 seed in the region who knocked off top seed and then-No. 12 Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) 20-13. Andrew Jackson was the highest ranked team to lose their playoff opener. 

Eastside players celebrate Daijon Johnson's (13) diving touchdown catch in the second quarter on Friday.
Photo by Seth Johnson Eastside players celebrate Daijon Johnson’s (13) diving touchdown catch in the second quarter against North Marion last Friday.

With the loss, Andrew Jackson drops to No. 19 while Ed White drops out of the poll. 

South Sumter (Bushnell) drops a spot to No. 8 despite blasting Eustis, 63-13, in their Region 3-2S quarterfinal. Next up for the Raiders (11-0) is Hudson. 

Bradford (Starke) drops a spot to No. 9 despite a 48-0 blanking of Crescent City. The Tornadoes (10-1) are back home again this week against RV Eastside, whom they beat on the Rams 28-0 on Sept. 17. Eastside knocked off North Marion (Citra) for the second time this year 27-14 last week in the regional quarterfinal at Citizens Field. 

The Rams (9-2) just missed out on entering the poll this week as they are the first team receiving votes. 

Trinity Catholic rounds out the top 10. The Celtics (6-2), who were off last week and considered the favorite in 1S, begin play in the Region 2-1S semifinal on Friday against The First Academy (Orlando). 

Suwannee (Live Oak) moved up two spots to No. 13 following a 39-15 win over Walton in the Region 2-2S quarterfinals. The Bulldogs host West Florida on Friday.

Columbia (Lake City) jumped five spots to No. 15 after they shut down Lincoln, 29-6, last Friday in the Region 1-3S quarterfinals. The Tigers travel to Escambia for a regional semifinal contest tonight.

Chiefland's Dakota Fisher with a stiff arm on Newberry's Keil McGriff on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Chiefland’s Dakota Fisher with a stiff arm on Newberry’s Keil McGriff last Friday in a Region 4-1R quarterfinal.

Baldwin moves into the rankings this week at No. 17. The Indians (9-2) got past Palatka, 29-12, in their Region 2-2S quarterfinal and are back home this week against rival RV Baker County (Glen St. Mary). Baldwin blasted Baker County earlier in the season, 30-7. 

Chiefland moves back in at No. 18 after blowing out Newberry, 49-7, in a Region 4-1R quarterfinal. The Indians (7-2) now take the long trip to the much this week against Pahokee in the region semifinals. 

Union County (Lake Butler) also returns in the poll at No. 20. The Tigers (6-2) had a bye last week but now face a tough test at home against defending state champion Madison County in a Region 3-1R semifinal matchup. 

Despite Ed White and Williston, the final team to drop out this week is Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville). The Crusaders, ranked 19th last week, dropped their Region 1-2M quarterfinal at home against Bishop Moore (Orlando), 28-7. No. 14 Bolles (Jacksonville) will host Bishop Moore this week in a region semifinal. 

This is the final poll until after the FHSAA State Championships on December 8-10 in Tallahassee and December 15-17 in Fort Lauderdale. 

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 #12

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

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

1. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (6) (10-0) – 177

2. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (3) (11-0) – 174

3. University Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (9-1) – 156

4. Hawthorne (1R) (8-0) – 150

5. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (8-2) – 139

6. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (4S) (9-1) – 127

7. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-2) – 111

8. South Sumter (Bushnell) (2S) (11-0) – 108

9. Bradford (Starke) (2S) (10-1) – 101

10. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (6-2) – 97

11. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (8-3) – 92

12. Creekside (St. Johns) (4S) (9-2) – 87

13. Suwannee (Live Oak) (2S) (9-2) – 72

14. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-4) – 63

15. Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (7-3) – 59

16. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (8-3) – 53

17. Baldwin (2S) (9-2) – 26

18. Chiefland (1R) (7-2) – 24

19. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 15

20. Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (6-2) – 14

Also receiving votes: Eastside (Gainesville) (2S) (9-2) – 13; Ed White (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-3) – 12; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (8-3) – 9; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 8; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (3M) (8-3) – 5; St. Augustine (3S) (7-4) – 4; Wildwood (1R) (9-2) – 4; Lafayette (Mayo) (1R) (9-2) – 2; Hilliard (1R) (8-2) – 1; Lecanto (3S) (8-3) – 1.  

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