No going back: FHSAA board again votes to proceed with Metro-Suburban changes in football

Bartram Trail running back Eric Weatherly picks up yards in the third quarter against Oakleaf during a playoff game on November 20, 2020. (Ralph D. Priddy) (Ralph D. Priddy, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association remains on pace to go ahead with the biggest change to the high school football playoff structure ever, again voting to proceed with the Metro and Suburban overhaul this year after another board challenge on Monday.

The biggest change to the football playoff structure ever was passed originally on a 9-7 board of directors vote on Feb. 28, but was put up for another test by board member Ralph Arza. According to Josh Wilson of, Arza’s motion was to delay the Metro/Suburban for a year to study it in greater detail. That motion was denied on an 11-5 vote.

BIG CHANGES | Metro/Suburban mean big shakeup in high school football

GOING PLACES | New divisions, new places for area teams

NOT IN FAVOR OF | Executive director not backing Metro/Suburban plan

Had that passed, the FHSAA would have faced another embarrassing moment and drawn intense backlash. The association came under immense scrutiny with its waffling during the pandemic and another reversal would have been seen as more inability to make a decision.

The Metro/Suburban isn’t without its faults, especially for the Metro-area schools.

It put the state’s largest eight counties — Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Seminole — in the newly formed Metro division and the other remaining 59 counties into the Suburban division.

Arza, a board member who voted in favor of the Metro/Suburban plan and was essentially the swing vote, told the Palm Beach Post that he “would have voted differently” had he known that six of the eight coaches on the Football Advisory Committee were from Suburban-area schools. His efforts to buy a one-year pause in the plan after voting in favor of it didn’t go over with the remaining board.

Executive director George Tomyn wasn’t in favor of the plan initially but said the FHSAA would follow the lead of its board of directors. The FHSAA released new district assignments in early March and finalized those districts following appeals on March 24.

Tomyn is retiring this summer and will be replaced by Craig Damon, a former head football coach at North Marion and current FHSAA associated executive director of eligibility and compliance.

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.