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The First Baptist Academy Lions finished a 10-0 regular season with a 42-0 victory over Orlando-West Oaks Academy on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Greg Hardwig, greg.hardwig@naplesnews.com; 239-263-4767

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Hopes of a state championship remain alive for 11 high school football teams from Collier and Lee counties as the postseason begins.

The Florida High School Athletic Association released the playoff brackets in its eight classifications Sunday morning. Only three of the local teams were district champs and knew for sure they’d get in, but all 11 had to wait to see their seeding and opponent.

For the first time this season, the FHSAA used a Ratings Percentage Index to award at-large berths into the regional quarterfinals. The RPI is based on winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage and opponents’ opponents winning percentage.

More football coverage:

    • How it works: FHSAA approves RPI system for playoff berths

    • Week 11 in Collier Co.: First Baptist finishes unbeaten; Gulf Coast, Neumann win

    • Week 11 in Lee Co.: Fort Myers, Lehigh, Bishop Verot, South win

    • Last week: Playoff RPI standings in Week 11

The full regional pairings for the local teams are listed below.

Here are five things to know about the high school football playoff draw for Southwest Florida teams:

Class 6A shakeup

South Fort Myers went into Friday’s regular-season finale on the outside of the playoff picture. However, thanks to a Barron Collier loss and Wolfpack win in Week 11, South (7-3) slid into the No. 8 seed and final at-large berth in 6A-Region 4.

Barron Collier (5-5) dropped out of the top eight and will not be in the playoffs for the first time in four years.

“The kids have worked real hard ever since I got here,” said first-year South coach Willis May, who was hired in April. “I’m proud of all our guys. (Making the playoffs) is getting that taste back in our mouths that tells you why you’re grinding January to November.”

After going 1-9 last season, the Wolfpack are back in the playoffs. They play at No. 1 seed Naples on Friday.

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Three rushing touchdowns from senior Brandon Benjamin on Senior Night carry Dunbar to a 22-7 victory to help their at-large playoff hopes in 6A. Bryan Cooney, bcooney@news-press.com

Also in 6A-Region 4, Dunbar (7-3) moved up to No. 5 – the best seed an at-large team can get – despite losing Friday. However, by moving up the Tigers must play at No. 4 seed Miami-Central (7-3). Central started the year ranked in the top 25 nationally by MaxPreps and USA Today.

The region includes a Lee County showdown when No. 6 seed North Fort Myers (7-3) visits No. 3 Fort Myers (8-2). The first round game is a rematch of the 2017 regional semifinals when North was undefeated but Fort Myers won 7-6 on a last-minute touchdown.

Lely (6-4) lost on Friday but still earned its first playoff berth in five years. The Trojans dropped from No. 5 in last weeks’ rankings to the seventh seed and play at Fort Lauderdale-Dillard (10-0) in the regional quarterfinals.

“This is a great opportunity for Lely football,” first-year Trojans coach J.J. Everage said. Playing on the road is always tough, but we’ve been road-tested all year.”

Golden Eagles earn homefield

Naples (9-0) finished the regular season No. 1 in the RPI rankings, earning the Eagles the top seed in 6A-Region 4. Naples earned the right to host its playoff games at least through the regional finals.

With Miami-Central finishing as the No. 4 seed, that sets up a potential heavyweight fight in the second round between Naples and the Rockets, who won five state championships in six seasons from 2010-15.

However, Eagles coach Bill Kramer said Naples isn’t looking past Friday’s regional quarterfinal against South.

“We know (the Rockets) are there, but we can’t presume we’re going to win Friday,” Kramer said. “The easiest way to get beat Friday is to worry about what’s going to happen the following week.”

Naples has won two straight regional championships and four in the past seven seasons. The Eagles lost to Miami-Central in the state semifinals in 2012 and 2015.

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Bishop Verot senior Tequon Chatman scored two touchdowns to push the Vikings past Bishop Verot 21-14 on Friday at Moody Field. Adam Regan, AREGAN@NEWS-PRESS.COM

Vikings get the week off

With a big win over North Fort Myers on Friday, Bishop Verot (8-2) solidified its spot as the No. 2 seed in 3A-Region 3. By finishing in the top two of the RPI, the Vikings get a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Six teams make the playoffs per region in Classes 1A-4A, as opposed to eight teams per region in 5A-8A. The top two seeds in the smaller school regions get byes.

Verot will host a regional semifinal game Nov. 15 against the winner of No. 3 West Palm Beach-Cardinal Newman (7-2) and No. 6 Palm Beach Gardens-Benjamin (7-3).

“We’re very happy with our draw,” Bishop Verot coach Josh Vogelbach said. “The bye week is huge. We get to heal up and rest up for an extra week.”

It is the second straight the Vikings earned a bye. Last year Verot beat LaBelle in the second round before losing in the regional finals.

Lions miss out on bye

Despite finishing undefeated, First Baptist (10-0) did not earn a bye in 2A-Region 4.

The Lions are one of just 20 unbeaten teams of the 483 teams in the FHSAA’s RPI rankings. However, FBA is the No. 3 seed and will host Moore Haven (5-5).

Fort Lauderdale-Westminster edged the Lions by 0.004 points in the RPI for the No. 2 seed and a bye in the region. Though Westminster (9-1) has one loss, it has a 0.433 opponents’ winning percentage compared to 0.293 for First Baptist.

“We kind of knew that might be the case,” Lions coach Billy Sparacio said about getting the third seed. “When (the FHSAA) tells us who we’re playing, that’s who we’re playing, and if we get a bye, we get a bye. We’re excited to play Moore Haven again.”

First Baptist won 12-6 at Moore Haven just two weeks ago.

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The Celtics picked up the shutout and put themselves in good shape for the playoffs. Chloe O'Connor, Special to Naples News

Also in 2A-Region 4, St. John Neumann gets a home game after earning the No. 4 seed. The Celtics (8-2) host Miami Christian (5-4) in the first round.

“Our goal was to make the playoffs,” Neumann coach Damon Jones said. “To do it and earn a home playoff game is awesome. I am so excited for our players and coaches. They have worked so hard all season.”

Playoffs return to Cypress Lake, Lehigh

After ending long district title droughts, Cypress Lake and Lehigh get to host playoff games for the first time in a while.

Cypress Lake (8-2) is the No. 4 seed in 5A-Region 4 and hosts No. 5 North Miami Beach (8-2). It is the first postseason game at the school since 1995, the last time the Panthers won a district championship. Cypress Lake also is in the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Lehigh (4-5) ended a 14-year playoff drought. The Lightning are the No. 4 seed in 7A-Region 3 and host No. 5 Venice (5-4) in the quarterfinals.

This is the third playoff appearance in four years for the Lightning, but the previous two postseason game (2016, 2018) came on the road. Lehigh is gets a regional game on its field for the first time since 2009.

Florida High School Athletic Association

Football playoff pairings

Class 7A-Region 3

Quarterfinals

Nov. 8

No. 8 Tarpon Springs-East Lake at No. 1 Palm Beach Lakes

No. 5 Venice at No. 4 Lehigh

No. 6 Largo-Pinellas Park at No. 3 Bradenton-Manatee

No. 7 Loxahatchee-Seminole Ridge at No. 2 New Port Richey-Mitchell

Semifinals

Nov. 15

Palm Beach Lakes-East Lake winner vs. Lehigh-Venice winner

Manatee-Pinellas Park winner vs. Mitchell-Seminole Ridge winner

Class 6A-Region 4

Quarterfinals

Nov. 8

No. 8 South Fort Myers at No. 1 Naples

No. 5 Dunbar at No. 4 Miami-Central

No. 6 North Fort Myers at No. 3 Fort Myers

No. 7 Lely at No. 2 Fort Lauderdale-Dillard

Semifinals

Nov. 15

Naples-South winner vs. Dunbar-Central winner

Fort Myers-North winner vs Dillard-Lely winner

Class 5A-Region 4

Quarterfinals

Nov. 8

No. 8 Key West at No. 1 Plantation-American Heritage

No. 5 North Miami Beach at No. 4 Cypress Lake

No. 6 Miami-Killian at No. 3 Jensen Beach

No. 7 Fort Lauderdale-Stranahan at No. 2 Miami-Northwestern

Semifinals

Nov. 15

American Heritage-Key West winner vs. North Miami Beach-Cypress Lake winner

Jensen Beach-Killian winner vs. Northwestern-Stranahan winner.

Class 3A-Region 3

Quarterfinals

Nov. 8

No. 6 Palm Beach Gardens-Benjamin at No. 3 West Palm Beach-Cardinal Newman

No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 4 Clearwater-Calvary Christian

Semifinals

Nov. 15

Newman-Benjamin winner at No. 2 Bishop Verot

Central Catholic-Calvary Christian at No. 1 Tampa Berkeley Prep

Class 2A-Region 4

Quarterfinals

Nov. 8

No. 6 Moore Haven at No. 3 First Baptist

No. 5 Miami Christian at No. 4 St. John Neumann

Semifinals

Nov. 15

Neumann-Miami Christian winner at No. 1 Hialeah-Champagnat Catholic

Moore Haven-First Baptist winner at No. 2 Fort Lauderdale-Westminster Academy

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