South Florida’s recently crowned state football champions could be on a collision course next season.
The Florida High School Athletic Association announced its tentative district realignment for football and with it the likelihood of pairing up Miami-Dade and Broward County’s newest state champions in the same classifications.
Among the most notable moves, which are dictated by school population size, defending Class 6A state champion Miami Central would move up and join a 10-team district of all Dade teams in Class 7A. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas just won its seventh state championship and is slated to remain in Class 7A, one district above Central’s.
That isn’t the only potential clash of champions.
Miami Booker T. Washington, which just won Class 4A, would have a new neighbor in the region — defending Class 3A state champion Fort Lauderdale University School. And making the area even stronger is a potential move down from Class 5A by perennial powerhouse Belle Glade Glades Central. Cocoa and Jacksonville Bolles would remain in Class 4A, and Madison County would move up from 3A.
Schools do have the option of appealing the FHSAA to move in classification until Jan. 18. The state will finalize the districts shortly after all appeals are reviewed.
Central’s 10-team district would be the largest in the state and also include Hialeah American, Homestead, Miami Springs, Miami Sunset, Miami Southridge, North Miami Beach, Reagan/Doral, South Miami and Westland Hialeah.
Class 8A would remain mostly the same, with state champion Apopka, runner-up Weston Cypress Bay and semifinalist Miami Columbus staying put. The notable exception, however, would be the move up from Class 7A by Bradenton Manatee, a team ranked No. 1 nationally earlier this season.
Central’s departure from Class 6A would create a new District 16-6A featuring Miami Northwestern, Miami Carol City and Miami Norland.
Miami Jackson, a state semifinalist in Class 5A, would stay put but would be joined in its district by seven other schools, including Plantation American Heritage — the team it has eliminated from the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
American Heritage-Delray would remain in Class 3A, as would Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna in neighboring districts. Class 2A would remain relatively unchanged as well, with state runner-up Miami Dade Christian, champion Jacksonville University Christian and Belle Glade Glades Day all staying put.
Rumph gets hired
A day after announcing that former Dolphin Jeff Dellenbach would no longer be the school’s football coach, Plantation American Heritage replaced him with another former local star. American Heritage named former University of Miami and NFL defensive back Mike Rumph its new coach.
Rumph, 33, guided the Patriots boys’ and girls’ track and field teams to state championships in May in his first season as the school’s head coach. Rumph was named The Miami Herald’s Track and Field Coach of the Year.
With Dellenbach also no longer the school’s athletic director, Heritage also announced that the position will be filled by Karen Stearns, a 15-year employee with the school. Stearns most recently has been the school’s compliance officer, dealing with matters involving the Department of Education and the FHSAA bylaws and guidelines, and has a long history and background with athletics and management.