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High school football teams get their playoff matchups early this year

Ponte Vedra quarterback Jacobi Myers (1) is chased by Matanzas defensive end Casey Hamilton (7) in the second quarter, Friday October 2nd, 2020 in Ponte Vedra.
Ponte Vedra quarterback Jacobi Myers (1) is chased by Matanzas defensive end Casey Hamilton (7) in the second quarter, Friday October 2nd, 2020 in Ponte Vedra. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s October and the high school football playoff field is already set.

The Florida High School Athletic Association released its postseason brackets on Wednesday morning, giving fans and schools a look at the bracket much earlier than a normal year. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FHSAA was forced to adjust region alignments and thin out the playoff field this season.

Districts went by the wayside in 2020 and teams earned a playoff spot just by saying that they wanted to play in them. For areas that struggled with COVID-19 numbers like in South Florida, that meant opting out of the state series format this year.

For others, that meant an open door to the playoffs.

Even though things will look quite a bit different in 2020, the brackets are set just seven days into October. The seeds aren’t necessarily of merit. The FHSAA filled out the bracket using a blind draw, which is why a winless team like Middleburg hosts an unbeaten like Pensacola Escambia, or a Paxon, which has never reached the playoffs, will roll out the welcome mat for Tallahassee Godby.

There are No. 1 seeds traveling for their opening games and oddities like winless teams hosting games.

Region 1-8A

Nov. 13, play-in round

(8) Nease at (9) Oakleaf

(10) University at (7) DeLand

(11) Mandarin at (6) Sandalwood

Byes: Bartram Trail, Flagler Palm Coast, West Port, Spruce Creek, Seminole

Nov. 20, Regional quarterfinals

Oakleaf/Nease winner at (1) Bartram Trail

(3) Flagler Palm Coast at Mandarin/Sandalwood winner

(2) Seminole at DeLand/University winner

Region 1-7A

Nov. 13, play-in round

(9) Tate at (8) Fleming Island

(13) Tallahassee Lincoln at (4) First Coast

(12) Fletcher at (5) Atlantic Coast

(7) Niceville at (10) Crestview

(11) Gainesville Buchholz at (6) Creekside

Byes: Chiles, Leon, Navarre

Nov. 20, regional quarterfinals

Tate/Fleming Island winner at (1) Tallahassee Chiles

Atlantic Coast/Fletcher winner at First Coast/Lincoln winner

Creekside/Buchholz winner at (3) Navarre

(2) Leon at Niceville/Crestview winner

Region 1-6A

Nov. 6, First play-in round

(16) Booker T. Washington at (17) Milton

(18) Englewood at (15) Columbia

Byes: Lee, Fort Walton Beach, Escambia, Mosley, Seabreeze, Gulf Breeze, Mainland, Gainesville, New Smyrna Beach, Middleburg, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, Matanzas

Nov. 13, Second play-in round

Booker T. Washington/Milton at (1) Pace

(9) Fort Walton Beach at (8) Lee

(13) Escambia at (4) Middleburg

(12) Mosley at (5) St. Augustine

(2) Ponte Vedra at Englewood/Columbia winner

(7) Daytona Beach Seabreeze at (10) Gulf Breeze

(3) Daytona Beach Mainland at (14) Gainesville

(11) New Smyrna Beach at (6) Matanzas

Region 1-5A

Nov. 6, play-in round

(16) White at (17) Bishop Kenny

(18) Westside at (15) Yulee

Byes: Ribault, Paxon, Raines, Baker County, Parker, Suwannee, West Florida, Pensacola, Choctawhatchee, Godby, Arnold, Wakulla, Pine Forest

Nov. 13

(1) Tallahassee Rickards at White/Bishop Kenny winner

(8) West Florida at (9) Pensacola

(13) Ribault at (4) Choctawhatchee

(5) Tallahassee Godby at (12) Paxon

(2) Raines at Westside/Yulee winner

(7) Arnold at (10) Baker County

(14) Suwannee at (3) Parker

(6) Wakulla at (11) Pine Forest

Region 2-5A

Nov. 6, play-in round

Byes: Clay, Menendez, Orange Park, Citrus, Belleview, North Marion, Eastside, Dunnellon

(17) Eustis at (16) Mount Dora

Nov. 13

Mount Dora/Eustis winner at (1) Menendez

(8) Citrus at (9) Orange Park

(13) North Marion at (4) Belleview

(12) Dunnellon at (5) Gainesville Eastside

(2) Vanguard at (15) Crystal River

(7) Tavares at (10) Ridgeview

(14) Atlantic at (3) Lake Weir

(11) Leesburg at (6) Clay

Region 2-4A

Nov. 6

Byes: Bolles, West Nassau, Fernandina Beach, Palatka, Bradford, Keystone Heights

Nov. 13, Regional quarterfinals

(1) Bolles at (8) Villages Charter

(4) West Nassau at (5) Fernandina Beach

(3) South Sumter at (6) Palatka

(7) Keystone Heights at (2) Bradford

Region 1-3A

Nov. 6, play-in round

Byes: Interlachen, Trinity Christian, Baldwin, Jackson, P.K. Yonge, Pensacola Catholic

(8) Episcopal at (9) Wolfson

(7) Walton at (10) Florida State University School

Nov. 13, Regional quarterfinals

Episcopal/Wolfson winner at (1) Interlachen

(4) Trinity Christian at (5) Baldwin

Walton/Florida State University School at (3) Jackson

(7) Pensacola Catholic at (2) Gainesville P.K. Yonge

Region 1-2A

Nov. 6, play-in round

(8) Munroe at (9) University Christian

Byes: Aucilla Christian, St. John Paul II, Florida A&M, North Florida Christian, Maclay, North North Florida Educational, Rocky Bayou Christian

Nov. 13, Regional quarterfinals

(1) Aucilla Christian at University Christian/Munroe winner

(5) Florida A&M at (4) St. John Paul II

(3) North Florida Christian at (6) Tallahassee Maclay

(7) Rocky Bayou Christian at (2) North Florida Educational

Region 2-2A

Nov. 6

Byes: Victory Christian, St. Joseph, Foundation Academy, Saint Francis, Deltona Trinity Christian, Orangewood Christian

Nov. 13, Regional quarterfinals

(1) Halifax Academy vs. TBA

(4) Victory Christian at (5) St. Joseph

(6) Saint Francis at (3) Foundation Academy

(2) Deltona Trinity Christian at (7) Orangewood Christian

Region 3-1A

Nov. 6, play-in round

Byes: Hilliard, Union County, Bell, Branford, Lafayette, Madison County, Dixie County

(8) Fort White at (9) Hamilton County

Nov. 13

Fort White/Hamilton County winner at (1) Branford

(4) Bell at (5) Union County

(6) Lafayette at (3) Hilliard

(7) Dixie County at (2) Madison County

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.