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Nine FHS7v7A Member Schools to Play in FHSAA State Semifinals in 2023

By Joshua Wilson, 11/29/23, 7:30PM EST


Nine FHS7v7A member schools to play in FHSAA state semifinals this week

By Joshua Wilson

With 18 teams left standing in the 2023 FHSAA Football State Series playoffs, the Florida High School 7v7 Association wants to recognize the nine member programs that will be playing their respective state semifinal matchups this week with a recap of what each team has done to continue their season into the month of December:


The Bulldogs are in the state semifinals for the fifth consecutive year under head coach Matt Toblin and after reaching the playoffs with a 5-5 regular season record and the District 2M-3 championship, the Bulldogs have defeated Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), Raines (Jacksonville), and Bishop Moore (Orlando) in consecutive weeks. They will play at Traz Powell Stadium on Friday night against the Miami Norland Vikings for the right to play in the Class 2M state championship game in Tallahassee next week.


Under first-year head coach and Buchholz alum Chuck Bell, the Bobcats have rolled off 13 straight wins and look to knock off the defending Class 4S State Champion in Lakeland at Citizens Field in Gainesville on Friday night. The Bobcats have previously knocked out Mosley (Lynn Haven), Ponte Vedra, and Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in consecutive weeks to reach the state semifinals for the third consecutive season. The Bobcats finished the 2023 regular season with a 10-0 overall record, the school’s first perfect record since 2001 and won the District 4S-3 championship in the process.


Regional champions for the first time since 2006, the Cougars are one game away from playing for a state championship for the first time since 1972 when the school won the Class A state championship that season. The Cougars have defeated Lakeland Christian and Victory Christian (Lakeland) in the past two weeks as they will host North Florida Christian (Tallahassee) in the state semifinals this week. Cardinal Mooney went 8-2 in the regular season and won the District 1S-6 championship.


Want to talk about a team that has surprised everyone, it is the Gaither Cowboys who have run through the regional playoffs knocking off teams like St. Petersburg, Largo, and Jesuit (Tampa) to reach the state semifinals for the first time since 2019 under head coach Kirk Karsen. The Cowboys finished second in District 3M-5 behind Tampa Jesuit who they defeated last week in the regional finals with a 5-5 overall record in the regular season. They will travel to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), the defending Class 3M state champions, this week with a spot in the Class 3M state championship game on the line.


Don’t tell the Tigers they were not district champions as they have flexed a muscle after a slow start earlier this season and have since rolled to playoff victories over Oviedo, Edgewater (Orlando), and Tampa Bay Tech to reach the state semifinals for the second straight year. The Tigers finished the season 7-3 and second in District 3M-3 and defeated district rival Edgewater in the regional semifinals almost

two weeks ago. The Tigers will make the long road trip to Harris Field in Homestead to take on the Homestead Broncos – last year’s Class 3M state runner-up.


The Panthers are having their best playoff run since 2018, the second to last season of former head coach Robert Weiner who took Plant to many historical heights. Now current head coach Hank Brown, who was a part of Weiner’s staff for many years has the Panthers right back where they used to be and are one game away from playing for a state championship since 2016 when they lost St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) in the Class 7A state championship game. The Panthers have defeated Plant City, Dr. Phillips (Orlando), and Sumner (Riverview) in one-score games in the last three weeks. Now the Panthers will travel to Tropical Park in Miami to take on Columbus in the state semifinals on Friday.


An influential member of the FHS7v7A that has hosted many events over the years for the association, the Yellow Jackets have completed a perfect regular season at 9-0 with the District 3S-4 championship this season and have since won three consecutive playoff games against Middleburg, Escambia (Pensacola), and Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach) at home. As such, the Yellow Jackets are back in the state semifinals for the first time since 2020 when they lost in triple overtime to Lake Minneola in the Class 6A state semifinals. The Yellow Jackets will host Dunbar (Fort Myers) on Friday night as they look to reach the state championship game for the first time since 2007 when they lost to Naples in the Class 3A state championship in Orlando.


Talk about going 3-7 in the regular season after coming off a state runner-up finish in 2022… that is the Trinity Catholic Celtics for you this year and they are now one game away from playing in a second consecutive state championship game. The Celtics, who won the District 1S-3 championship this season, have played some of the toughest teams in the state including another FHS7v7A member school in Buchholz (Gainesville). The Celtics knocked off Holy Trinity (Melbourne) and Melbourne Central Catholic by large margins in the playoffs to earn a rematch with First Baptist (Naples), the team the Celtics lost to in the Class 1S state championship last year.


The Knights, a team that has won multiple FHS7v7A state championships are in the state semifinals for the first time since the 1994 season when the Knights were led by a quarterback named Daunte Culpepper who reached the Class 5A state championship game that year before falling to Southeast (Bradenton). As such, this marks the deepest playoff run for head coach Edwin Farmer who has now been the head coach at Vanguard for a decade. The Knights won the District 3S-5 championship this season with an 8-2 regular season record and have proceeded to playoff victories over River Ridge (New Port Richey), Zephyrhills, and Lake Wales, the defending Class 3S state champions from 2022. They will travel to Mainland (Daytona Beach) on Friday night for the chance to play in the Class 3S state championship next week in Tallahassee.

The Florida High School 7v7 Association wants to wish all our member schools the best of luck this week in their state semifinal matchups in their quest for a 2023 FHSAA state championship!