The debate has already begun as to who the best high school football teams in South Florida will be in 2013.
The Miami Herald has begun unveiling its first official South Florida Top 20 poll of the season.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 beginning with:
5. Northwestern (9-3)
Outlook: The Bulls weren’t a playoff team in 2011 snapping a two-decade streak of making the postseason.
That didn’t sit right in Liberty City as Northwestern made some changes hiring new coach Stephen Field, who led a young group of Bulls back to the postseason in his first season.
Northwestern’s goal this season is to return to state championship status.
The Bulls appear more talented than they were a year ago with several FBS school prospects including senior defensive end Michael Smith (Miami commitment) and athlete Jojo Robinson (FSU commitment).
Smith had 18 sacks last season and will lead a defense that allowed only 11.8 points per game. Robinson is one of the most versatile athletes in the state and can contribute on both sides of the ball if needed.
A few transfers such as senior defensive back Ryan Mayes, senior wide receiver Odis Grimes and senior running back Lakeith Stafford add depth at key positions as well.
Northwestern’s biggest obstacle is still longtime rival Central, which will open the season ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals.com. The Rockets have beaten the Bulls six consecutive times and ousted them from the playoffs three of the past four seasons including a 34-7 rout last year in the second round.
If the Bulls can stay healthy, they’ll have a chance to repeat last year’s progress. But improving upon it will be a tough task as they will match up against some of the state’s most talented athletes in District 16-6A.
The Bulls must not only survive their brutal district (Central, Carol City, Homestead, Norland) but the rest of a monster schedule - St. Thomas Aquinas, Belle Glade Glades Central, Jacksonville Raines, Blanche Ely, Booker T. Washington and Jackson.
Northwestern already beat Cocoa in the spring on the road and plays Palm Beach Central in the preseason Aug. 23.
Key games: Aug. 31, St. Thomas Aquinas at Sun Life Stadium; Sept. 20, Carol City; Oct. 4, Norland; Oct. 12, Booker T.; Oct. 18, Central; Nov. 8, Jackson.