Now it’s the Boy’s turn and first up is Class 1A.
There’s a distinct flavor to this one and once again the lack of travel really plays into this. Over the years the Southeast has led the explosion of the sport’s popularity and many of these names have been playing near the top of the state for over 20 years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that depth garnered from longstanding youth programs and vertical integration within a private school would show up. Put that together with the fact these schools tend to play each other every year and you have a platform for higher strengths of schedule that get reflected in the MaxPreps algorithm.
Many years you would see these schools travel and/or host other top programs and that also prepared them better for the brackets. Long-time followers of the sport know I emphasize the issue of geography as a program works their way up the ladder. Ponte Vedra struggled with that until their feeder system could provide the depth, but if you go back more than 4-5 years you would see great records that came up short in the FHSAA tourney, as the location so far northeast made scheduling difficult. Now that the depth of the Northeast is filling out that makes for a better preparation and you see the results the last few years.
Right now you can look at the Gulf Coast as being at that similar place to the Northeast 4-5 years ago. Closing in but still building enough depth that traveling becomes more of picking the right opponent instead of taking what you can get. To show what I mean, here’s how MaxPreps calculated Strength of Schedule this year for 1A (top 25 in their Power Ranking):
|Saint Andrew’s (Boca Raton)||17.1|
|St. Edward’s (Vero Beach)||14.2|
|Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale)||13.3|
|Benjamin (Palm Beach Gardens)||18.1|
|Oak Hall (Gainesville)||8.7|
|Belen Jesuit (Miami)||7.1|
|Canterbury (Fort Myers)||10.9|
|Oxbridge Academy (West Palm Beach)||15.5|
|St. John Paul II Academy (Boca Raton)||14.9|
|Cardinal Mooney (Sarasota)||12.4|
|Lake Highland Prep (Orlando)||15.1|
|American Heritage (Plantation)||11.6|
|Gulliver Prep (Miami)||7.1|
|King’s Academy (West Palm Beach)||15.9|
|Montverde Academy (Montverde)||4.9|
|Episcopal School of Jacksonville (Jacksonville)||2.4|
|Saint Stephen’s Episcopal (Bradenton)||-0.1|
|Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy (Melbourne)||-2.3|
|Westminster Christian (Miami)||3.6|
|Community School of Naples (Naples)||6.1|
|Jupiter Christian (Jupiter)||9.6|
|Berkeley Prep (Tampa)||7.1|
12 of the Top 25 TEAMS in the Rankings are Southeast teams and when you dig down into this you have 8 of the 11 schools that are 10.0 or more in Strength of Schedule are in the Southeast.
The simple fact is that by limiting travel within geographic areas it hurt those areas with less top teams and skewed the numbers. You really didn’t have enough quality opponents to get ready for a deep run if you weren’t in the Southeast this season.
If we are back to normal next year, I would encourage the Northern and Gulf Coast teams to figure out how to play Southeast schools as much as possible, even if it means either traveling to the area or finding a way to have neutral site games in Orlando. An example might be something like Jesuit playing SA at LHP, while LHP plays Pine Crest. One of my Twitter buddies put it in simple terms: “Iron sharpens iron”.
That’s so true.
Final Top 15 Poll for Boys Class 1A
1) Saint Andrew’s – 2nd toughest schedule AND undefeated, should be in consideration for Inside Lacrosse’s National Top 25
2) Saint Edward’s – once they got their full squad together it was all systems go and they overcame adversity
3) Pine Crest – only two losses to Saint Andrew’s
4) Oak Hall – I take the whole body of work into consideration and they had big wins
5t) Jesuit – similar thing here, a few goals shy of running the table
5t) Belen Jesuit – undefeated regular season and took SA into the 3rd all tied up, very few can say that
7) Bolles – Strength of schedule hurt them some early, got hot late and pulled off maybe the biggest upset of the 1A bracket
8) Benjamin – on the other hand Benjamin played THE toughest schedule
9) Saint John Paul II – also played a monster schedule, close losses in many of them
10) Oxbridge – not enough offense this year to get past some, Canterbury road win improved their standing over time
11) Canterbury – nice late season run but semifinal showing hurts, program trending up
12) Maclay – hot and cold, some head scratchers
13) Lake Highland Prep – also a great schedule but lost too many to be higher, but the program is definitely on the way back up
14) Cardinal Mooney – real close to a really good ranking but lost key games late, next challenge is to build off the recent past
15) Episcopal School of Jacksonville – solid year but missing the one signature win, needs to beef up the schedule next season
American Heritage-Plantation – didn’t play enough games to make it this year
Gulliver Prep – inconsistent, after watching them they just didn’t put it all together this year
Montverde Academy – on the way up, now let’s see them take the next step