The debate has already begun as to who the best high school football teams in South Florida will be in 2013.
Miami Central and Miami Booker T. Washington have been ranked the country’s top two teams by a few national polls.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Fort Lauderdale University are also nationally-ranked.
Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the start of the regular season, The Miami Herald will be unveiling its first official South Florida Top 20 poll of the season.
We continue with Nos. 15 through 11:
15. Plantation (8-3 last season)
Outlook: Chris Lammons, who committed to the University of Florida on Monday, leads an offense that returns six starters and should have enough firepower to contend with St. Thomas Aquinas in District 15-7A. The Colonels lost a close game against the Raiders in the regular season before suffering a more lopsided 38-7 defeat in the playoffs.
Lammons and FBS talent Ravian Pierce, a 6-4, 210-pound tight end, will have to carry the load to help a young defense that lost seven starters gain experience playing a tough schedule that includes Dillard, Miramar and Aquinas.
Key games: Aug. 30, Dillard; Sept. 12, Miramar; Nov. 1, St. Thomas; Nov. 8, South Plantation.
14. Columbus (9-5)
Outlook: The Explorers are coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances in Class 8A. Getting that far a third year in a row won’t be easy following the graduation of numerous key performers especially on offense where Columbus lost the talented trio of Lorenzo Woodley, Daryl Chestnut and Jesus Wilson.
But if junior quarterback Tucker Beirne, entering his second season as the starter, continues to improve and senior Oshton Armstrong can carry the load in the running game, the Explorers could find themselves in contention for a trip to Orlando.
Senior defensive end/linebacker Nick McBeath, an FIU commitment, anchors a defense that should still be solid enough to slow down opponents.
Columbus is the favorite to win another district title in 14-8A, but the health and progress of its new leaders on offense and defense will dictate how far they get in this year’s playoffs.
Key games: Aug. 30, S. Dade; Sept. 7, Belen; Sept. 12, American Heritage; Sept. 20, Gables.
13. South Dade (10-2)
Outlook: After missing the playoffs in 2011, the Bucs made a grand return last season by winning the District 16-8A title in their first season under coach Nate Hudson.
South Dade just might have the pieces to take it a step further this season and challenge for a trip to Orlando.
Several starters from a defense that allowed only 10.1 points per game last season return, but it’s on offense where South Dade might separate from the rest of the pack of Class 8A Dade teams.
The Bucs should have one of the most explosive offenses in the county led by receivers Tyree Brady, C.J. Worton and all-around athlete Antwan Cordy, who will also give the Bucs a game-changer on defense and special teams.
Quarterback Khalil Render is a talented option in a backfield that will also include running back transfer Johnnie Hankins. An early test against Columbus in week 1 could give a glimpse as to whether the Bucs are ready to contend with the Explorers and Broward County’s best for a trip to state.
Key games: Aug. 30, Columbus; Oct. 26, Killian; Nov. 2, Coral Reef; Nov. 8, Homestead.