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News4Jax Super 10 football: Bartram Trail begins 2020 at the top

Bartram Trail's Eric Weatherly carries the ball in a win over Raines in Week 11. (Drew Comer, Contributed photo)
Bartram Trail's Eric Weatherly carries the ball in a win over Raines in Week 11. (Drew Comer, Contributed photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school football season begins Friday, and our News4Jax Super 10 poll leads the way into the regular season.

Beginning next week, it will be published each Tuesday during the season. All games this week are Friday at 7 p.m. unless indicated.

(Rank, School, Classification)

1. Bartram Trail, Class 8A

Last year: 11-1, district winner, lost in regional semifinals to Apopka.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: The Bears spent the second half of the 2019 season anchored at No. 1 in the News4Jax Super 10 poll. They finished with their first unbeaten regular season in the program’s 20-year history. Bartram played for a state title in 2017. This year? Maybe even poised for even bigger things. One area coach said that this Bears team is the best that coach Darrell Sutherland has ever had.

2. Bolles, Class 4A

Last year: 11-2, lost in Class 4A state championship game to Miami Washington.

This week: vs. Bishop Kenny, kickoff classic.

Why they’re here: The first season under coach Matt Toblin was very encouraging as the Bulldogs played for — and should have won — a state championship. With a year for the coaching staff to work and a talented crew back, could that translate into a state title? Friday’s opener is a scrimmage, but things get real in a hurry next week when the Bulldogs visit No. 3 Trinity Christian.

3. Trinity Christian, Class 3A

Last year: 5-6, lost in regional quarterfinals to Ocala Trinity Catholic.

This week: at Gainesville Buchholz, kickoff classic.

Why they’re here: The Conquerors played a brutal schedule in 2019, got beat up with injuries and endured their earliest playoff exit since 2012. The schedule is far more manageable this year and a state championship target is the goal. With experience and a healthy roster, that’s the expectation. Major showdown looms in Week 2 against Bolles.

4. Oakleaf, Class 8A

Last year: 7-3. Did not make playoffs.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: The Knights are poised for a big season and need to take the next step behind four-year starting QB Walter Simmons III. There are some challenging games on the schedule (Bartram Trail, Camden County, Lowndes), but the talent is here, even in what should be another logjam among the area’s teams in Class 8A.

5. Fleming Island, Class 7A

Last year: 10-1, district winner, lost in regional semifinals to Niceville.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: One of the two area teams to go unbeaten in the regular season last year, the Golden Eagles went two rounds deep into the postseason and have been very steady under coach Damenyum Springs.

6. Lee, Class 6A

Last year: 9-4, district winner, lost in regional final to Pensacola Escambia.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: The Generals turned the corner in 2015 and have been a different program ever since. Lee graduated and lost a slew of players to transfer, but coach OJ Small has made a habit of absorbing those losses annually and getting the most from the rest of his players.

7. Columbia, Class 6A

Last year: 8-4, lost in regional semifinals to Lee.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: The Tigers have never missed the state playoffs under coach Brian Allen, although he’s stepping back from the main role on Friday nights this season. Columbia won’t start its regular season until later this month.

8. Mandarin, Class 8A

Last year: 6-4, lost in regional quarterfinals to Sanford Seminole.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: Too high for a team with a chunk of graduation losses, the biggest one under center and two-year starter Carson Beck? Maybe. The Mustangs won a state title in 2018 and then finished strong in the regular season to reach the playoffs. The post-Beck era begins next week for coach Bobby Ramsay and the Mustangs.

9. University Christian, Class 2A

Last year: 11-2, lost to Lakeland Victory Christian in the state semifinals.

This week: at Episcopal, kickoff classic.

Why they’re here: UC was the only local team to hand Bolles a loss last year and would have likely played for a state title if not for a rash of postseason injuries. The Christians always have a championship expectation and this year is no different for coach David Penland III, who is entering his 10th season at his alma mater.

10. St. Augustine, Class 6A

Last year: 6-5, lost to Lee in regional quarterfinals.

This week: Off.

Why they’re here: I went back and forth on this final slot between the Yellow Jackets, Flagler Palm Coast, Raines and Ponte Vedra. I settled on St. Augustine here because I think it flips the script in some of those tight games. St. Augustine lost three of its five games last year by a field goal or less. It seldom had a problem scoring points.

On the bubble: Baker County (6-5, Class 5A); Baldwin (7-4, Class 1A); Bradford (6-6, Class 4A); Creekside (5-5, Class 7A); Flagler Palm Coast (8-3, Class 8A); Fletcher (6-4, Class 7A); Parker (7-3, Class 5A); Ponte Vedra (7-3, Class 6A); Raines (6-5, Class 5A); Sandalwood (3-5, Class 8A); Westside (8-3, Class 5A); West Nassau (8-3, Class 4A).


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