Locally, the new football districts released Friday by the Florida High School Athletic Association are evoking a gamut of emotions ranging from grins to grimaces.
The biannual district realignment process classifies schools based on student population and geography. In Hillsborough County, some districts (i.e. 7A-7) remain nearly intact. Others have undergone makeovers ranging from subtle to stunning.
Among the most glaring: The nine-team 5A-8 district has been dismantled. In its place is 5A-9, featuring only three teams (5A-8 holdovers Jesuit, Middleton, Spoto). Reigning 5A-8 champ Robinson moves to the daunting nine-team 6A-8 district that includes Armwood, Hillsborough and Jefferson, among others.
"I love it," Spoto coach Dale Caparaso said. "After the last four years in some of the monster districts we have been in, it is great to be in a smaller district. The three-team (district) was an absolute shock but we will take it."
Others may not be so jovial. Chamberlain moves from 7A-7 to the sprawling 6A-8 district. Lennard, winless in 5A last season, also moves to 6A-8.
Elsewhere, Tampa Catholic and Berkeley Prep, formerly in the four-team 3A-5 district, move to a potentially interesting 3A-4 district with traditional Polk County small-school powers Frostproof and Fort Meade. The Polk schools also moved into 3A-4 after appealing their initial assignments.
Tampa Catholic initially had been placed in a four-county 4A district in which its shortest road trip would have been more than 100 round-trip miles, but won an appeal to move down.
"We are definitely relieved to move to a district closer to home and we're excited about being part of a competitive district," new Crusaders coach Mike Gregory said.
"Playing Berkeley is always going to be a great game and we played as close of a game as you can get with Fort Meade in the playoffs last year (a 24-23 TC win), so there is going to be some exciting football in this district."
The new districts featuring Hillsborough County teams:
Class 8A, District 6: Alonso, Bloomingdale, Newsome, Plant, Riverview, Wharton
Class 7A, District 7: Freedom, Gaither, Sickles, Steinbrenner, Tampa Bay Tech, Wiregrass Ranch
Class 7A, District 8: Brandon, Durant, East Bay, Plant City, Strawberry Crest
Class 6A, District 8: Armwood, Blake, Chamberlain, Hillsborough, Jefferson, King, Leto, Lennard, Robinson
Class 5A, District 9: Jesuit, Middleton, Spoto
Class 3A, District 4: Berkeley Prep, Bishop McLaughlin, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Lakeland Christian, Tampa Catholic
Class 2A, District 5: Bradenton Christian, Cambridge Christian, Canterbury, Carrollwood Day, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian