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FHSAA releases football districts for next 2 seasons

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Fri. December 21, 2012 | Joey Knight | Email

Depending on which local prep football colors you brandish, the Florida High School Athletic Association has just plopped a lump of Christmas cheer or coal into your psyche.

The FHSAA released its tentative list of district football assignments for the next two seasons. 'Tentative' being the key word, considering some schools could appeal their respective assignment or request a move.

Among the area's biggest beneficiaries -- at first glance -- is Jesuit, which moves from Class 5A, District 8 (nine teams including Robinson and Lakewood) to 5A-9 (Jesuit, Middleton, Spoto). Clearwater Central Catholic, meantime, stays in a refurbished 3A-5 district that loses Berkeley Prep and Tampa Catholic and adds three former 2A programs as well as former independent Northside Christian.

At the other end of the spectrum, 6A-8 -- arguably Hillsborough County's toughest district the past two seasons -- expands from seven to nine teams. Sickles (8-3) drops out, but 5A state semifinalist Robinson and Chamberlain join a district featuring holdovers Armwood, Hillsborough and Jefferson.

"It's atrocious," said outgoing Robinson coach Mike DePue, whose team resided in 5A-8 the last two seasons.

"There's a nine-team district in the same area there's a three-team district. I look at something like this and it shows me how out of touch with reality the people up there (at the FHSAA ) are when they divide things up. ... Why can't you just look at things logical? It's like the computer generated it and there's no human element to it. There's no common sense."

Schools have until Jan. 18 to appeal their assignment. Among those who could request a change is Tampa Catholic, which moves from 3A-5 to a 4A-6 district which includes six other out-of-area teams including Clewiston and LaBelle.

The Crusaders conceivably could ask to be reassigned to 5A, where they would almost certainly join rival Jesuit in District 9. FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said teams can request to move up a classification "if it is a geographically isolated situation."

"It's definitely an option," new Crusaders coach Mike Gregory said. "I just spoke with our AD (Freddie Langiotti), and we'll be making a full plan soon."

In Pinellas County, Palm Harbor University and Sarasota Riverview remain in the four-team 8A-7 district, albeit with two new tenants. North Port and East Lake are out, replaced by St. Petersburg and nationally-ranked Bradenton juggernaut Manatee.

On the North Suncoast, 5A-6 drops from eight to six schools. Hernando, Weeki Wachee and Central join Pasco, Zephyrhills and Nature Coast. Anclote, this past season's District 6 runner-up, goes to District 7 with Gulf, Hudson, Ridgewood, River Ridge and Wesley Chapel.

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