If the season goes the way the first state poll read on Tuesday afternoon, South Florida would finish with six state champions and a runner-up.

The challenge for Miami-Dade and Broward County’s best beginning Thursday is to live up to expectations.

South Florida’s four reigning state champions – Southridge (Class 8A), St. Thomas Aquinas (7A), Carol City (6A) and American Heritage (5A) – are all ranked No. 1 in their respective classifications.

Booker T. Washington, which had its four-year state title run snapped last year, opens as Class 4A’s top team, and Chaminade-Madonna, a runner-up in 3A last season, starts as the favorite to win it this year.

Class 2A is the only exception with Champagnat Catholic ranked No. 2 behind the team it lost to in last year’s state final – Jacksonville University Christian.

Some of those team’s lofty statuses will be challenged immediately this week.

Three of those tests will occur at Traz Powell Stadium during three state days of prominent Dade vs. Broward matchups.

Miami Central, ranked third in Class 6A, faces Chaminade-Madonna on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Deerfield Beach, the No. 2 team in Class 8A, will try to upend Carol City when they play Friday at 7:30 p.m. And Cardinal Gibbons, ranked seventh in Class 5A, will battle Southridge at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

St. Thomas Aquinas will try to maintain its national ranking as well on Friday when it hosts California’s St. John Bosco at 7 p.m. in a matchup of top five nationally-ranked teams.


▪ American Heritage Invitational at Shula’s Golf Course: The host Patriots won their invitational for the seventh consecutive season with a tournament-record score of 281. Leo Herrera won the individual title of the 18th annual event by shooting 68. Jude Kim (70) and Alberto Martinez (71)

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