South Florida Sun Sentinel |
Nov 02, 2021 at 10:08 AM
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Florida’s high school football state champions often hail from South Florida. Now they will have the opportunity to win those titles in South Florida.
The Florida High School Athletic Association announced that the 2021 and 2022 state championship games for Class 8A-4A football will be played at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, the home of Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. The Class 3A-1A state championships will remain at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.
“The FHSAA is thrilled to partner with both the Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale communities to host the 2021 & 2022 Florida High School Football State Championships,” FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn said in a press release. “Each location is sure to provide a unique and memorable football championship experience to all participating student-athletes and coaches, as well as their traveling fans.”
The five state championship games will be played Dec. 16-18 at the 18,000-seat soccer stadium. Local powerhouse teams such as American Heritage, Cardinal Gibbons, Deerfield Beach, Dillard, Palm Beach Central, St. Thomas Aquinas and Western are among the teams who may compete for a state title in Fort Lauderdale next month.
Broward and Miami-Dade counties routinely send several teams to state title games each year. In 2019, seven of the eight state champions were from those two counties. In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic limited the number of teams competing in the FHSAA state series, South Florida teams (including American Heritage, Cardinal Gibbons and St. Thomas Aquinas) won five of eight championships.
South Florida teams have often needed to travel far to win those trophies. In 2020, Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee hosted all eight state title games. In 2019, Class 3A-1A title games were played at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee, while Class 8A-4A title games were held at Daytona Stadium.
Fort Lauderdale has not hosted a state championship football game since 1973, when Hollywood Hills beat Jacksonville Raines.
“High school football has been a huge part of the Broward County community for decades and it continues to bring people together,” said Stacy Ritter, President and CEO of Visit Lauderdale. “As a proud graduate of Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the road to the Florida High School Football State Championships end in Fort Lauderdale.”
From 2007-2018, all state title games were held at Camping World Stadium (previously known as the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando.
Prior to Orlando’s run hosting the championships, Miami hosted the state title games for two years. In 2005, Dolphin Stadium (now named Hard Rock Stadium) was the host for the Class 6A-3A title games, and FIU Community Stadium (now named Riccardo Silva Stadium) hosted Class 2A-1A games. In 2006, Dolphin Stadium hosted all eight championship games.
South Florida teams won six state titles in those two years. The 2005 games drew 36,112 spectators. The 2006 games drew 56,435 fans — more people than any state championship series in state history.