Posted On: 11/13/18 2:43 PM

Preseason classics are underway and the regular season officially begins on November 26.

We will bring you previews on all nine classes in the state of Florida and the independent conferences.

ICYMI: The SIAA preview

Starting with Class 1A and its eight districts, here is the beginning of class previews.

2017-18 state champion: Wildwood

2017-18 runner-up: Blountstown

Class 1A-District 1

2017-18 winner: Bethlehem posted a 22-8 record winning the district over Laurel Hill 66-57. The Wildcats advanced to the region final before losing to state runner-up Blountstown. Key 2019 athletes Kelby Contreras and Jordan Sumner return for another run.

Teams to watch: Paxton, Laurel Hill, Poplar Springs and Bethlehem.

Other teams in the district: Ponce De Leon, Central and Malone

Predicted district champion: Paxton

-This district will likely be a three-team race between defending champion Bethlehem, Laurel Hill and Paxton. I have to give the edge to Paxton. After a below .500 season a year ago at 12-13, the Bobcats feature a group of five 2019 athletes. Expect a turnaround year for them.

Class 1A-District 2

2017-18 winner:  Blountstown snuck past Cottondale 41-38 to claim the district before reaching the state title game against Wildwood. The Tigers lost 62-56 in a valiant effort to finish 23-4.

Teams to watch: Holmes County, Cottondale and Blountstown

Other teams in the district: Vernon, Sneads, Graceville

Predicted district champion: Cottondale

-Blountstown graduated its two captains KK Godwin and Denzel Washington. The Tigers return 2019 starters Trent Peacock, Trent Smith and JC Williams. Cottondale battled all season long and 6’4″ senior Dayron Garrett back alongside 2020 forward Qui’darius Henderson. I see the Hornets winning 1A-2.

Class 1A-District 3

2017-18 winner: Baker cruised in the district final against Chipley 76-51, but the Gators lost to Franklin County in the region semifinal. It was Chipley that reached the state semifinal before losing to Blountstown.

Teams to watch: Chipley, Baker, Freeport

Other teams in the district: Jay, Northview

Predicted district champion: Chipley

-This is once again likely going to come down to Chipley and Baker. I’ll give the Tigers the edge this year with 2019 guard Kelvin Dean and 2019 forward Swearingen back in the mix. Baker has 2019 guards Octavius McLaughlin and Derek Peoples at the forefront.

Class 1A-District 4

2017-18 winner: Port St. Joe ran away with the district title with a 20-8 overall record and 10-0 showing in 1A-4 play. The Sharks were upset by Chipley in the region semifinal ended its season prematurely.

Teams to watch:  Port St. Joe,  Bozeman, Franklin County

Other teams in the district: Wewahitchka, Liberty County, Altha

Predicted district champion: Port St. Joe

-The Sharks return a trio of 2019 starters Jan Lowe, Travis Roberton and Kendre Grant. All three averaged 10 or more points with Lowe averaging 12.5 PPG. Franklin County should give Port St. Joe a tough challenge with 2021 guard Lamarius Martin (15.2 PPG) and 2019 guard Daijon Penamon (13.3 PPG).

Class 1A-District 5

2017-18 winner: Madison County took down Hamilton County in the district title game and then nearly upended Wildwood in the state semifinal in a 65-63 loss. The Cowboys finished 25-5 overall and 7-1 in district play.

Teams to watch: Madison County, Hamilton County

Other teams in the district: Lafayette, Jefferson County

Predicted district champion: Madison County

-The Cowboys have too many athletes with FSU football commit Travis Jay (15.6 PPG & 10.8 PPG), 2019 forward Vincenta Mitchell (10.4 PPG) and 2020 forward Demarvion Brown (9.3 PPG). Hamilton County should compete, however with 2020 6’7″ forward Jacariyon Houston and 2020 6’3″ guard Nicolas McClain.

Class 1A-District 6

2017-18 winner: Hawthorne (23-6, 8-0) beat Hilliard in the district final and then reached the region final before losing to Madison County. 

Teams to watch: Hawthorne, Hilliard

Other teams in the district: Williston, Crescent City, Union County

Predicted district champion: Hawthorne

-The Hornets return 2019 guard Kahleil Jackson (14.7 PPG) and three other meaningful seniors in Marcus Williams, Alphonso Williams and Devonte Bowie. Hawthorne will have direct competition with Hilliard once again who are led by 2019 forward Jacob Crews.

Class 1A-District 7

2017-18 winner: Bell won its second consecutive district title with a 61-39 win over Dixie County. The Bears went 23-6 overall and 12-0 in district play, losing to Wildwood in the region semifinal.

Teams to watch: Bell, Dixie County, Trenton

Other teams in the district: Branford, Bronson, Chiefland, Cedar Key

Predicted district champion: Bell

-The Bears graduated five seniors including four of its top five scorers. They return 2019 guard Tyler Trantham (10.9 PPG) and 2019 guard Ian Townsend (5.6 PPG). Trenton should have a chance to compete with 2019 guard Malik Redmond and 2020 guard Tyreese Jackson. This district is full of young players.

Class 1A-District 8

2017-18 winner: Wildwood (23-7) made it to the state title game for the second straight year, this time winning it all over Blountstown 62-56.  The Wildcats are poised for yet another run in 1A with a seasoned group.

Teams to watch: Wildwood, Frostproof

Other teams in the district: Pahokee, Fort Meade

Predicted district champion: Wildwood

-Wildwood returns second-leading scorer 2020 guard Marcus Niblack (13.9) alongside 2021 forward Oscene Mikell and 2019 guard Kris Wilson. The Wildcats also earned a welcomed addition with 2019 6’10” forward Jeremiah Tisme from Gainesville.

Predicted state champion: Wildwood

-The Wildcats may have lost Darion Wilson (Florida College commit) to graduation and underrated 2018 guard Shemar Rose. But Niblack will take over the backcourt alongside Mikell, Tisme and Wilson. This is still a deep team and one with speed and size now.

Photo credit: Daily Commercial