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Florida High School Athletic Association votes for metro, suburban classifications

Posted at 12:06 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 00:06:21-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There haven't been too many shake-ups to the way Florida classifies high school football since an expansion to the playoff system in 1993. Now, nearly three decades later, there's a big change. The state will now be split into two different classifications, metro and suburban, and love it or hate it, everyone is talking about it.

Over the past five years, the Florida High football team has been a final four team four times. Each time, they were beaten by a team that under Florida's new classification system they won't have to see again.

"This is one of those things that will be talked about for quite a bit of time," said head coach Jarrod Hickman of the new plan. "Not everyone will be pleased with the ruling."

Florida's 67 counties were split using population density to make up a metro and suburban classification. Florida High is now considered a suburban school. Every team that's beaten them in those final four years is considered metro.

"I think it effects schools like ours who have had to face some of the private schools later on in the playoff system," said Hickman. "I think it even things out a little more."

To create a more even playing field was the motivation behind the change. According the to FHSAA's football advisory committee, 89% of the state football championship over the past decade have been won by metro teams, but not everyone is excited for what's ahead.

"My biggest concern is that you're splitting the state," said Wakulla head coach Scott Klees. "I do not like splitting, taking eight counties and they're on their own. You're splitting the state of Florida."

"You'll have a metro champion and a suburban champion," added Rickards head coach Quintin Lewis. "Nothing's really solved. You'll still have two champions in the same classification."

Four classes in metro, four in suburban. Class 1A Rural stays the same. There will be nine total state champions in the state of Florida.

"I wish they would have taken a little more time maybe give it another year to look into everything to make sure we get it right," siad Klees. "It's a huge decision."

A huge decision that starts this fall, for teams on both sides of the fence.

"It helps in a sense the smaller schools, the schools that don't have the chance to recruit a lot of guys in to compete," said Lewis.

"This may not solve some of the problems, but I don't know if we're ever going to solve them all," added Hickman. "I think we go down this road for a few years and see how it goes and then we look back at it and see if there's anything better."

Several of the coaches we spoke with agreed that Monday's decision really a band-aid for a bigger issue in the state of Florida - recruiting. Florida is an open enrollment state, which makes policing recruiting difficult.

Several coaches agreed adding a multiplier for out of zone students, like the Georgia High School Association has, would be a better way at leveling the playing field.