Posted On: 11/23/18 1:55 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

Class 1A Preview

Class 2A Preview

Class 3A Preview

Class 4A Preview

Class 5A Preview: Part 1Part 2

Class 6A Preview: Part 1Part 2

Class 7A Preview: Part 1, Part 2

Here is a look at Class 8A and a preview of districts 1-8.

2017-18 state champion: Blanche Ely

2017-18 state runner-up: Creekside

Class 8A-District 1 

2017-18 winner: Niceville was the epitome of the phrase “getting hot, late” in 2017. They went 8-19 on the year but ended up beating Gulf Breeze in the district championship game. Niceville would go on to lose by 25 in the regional quarters to Leon.

Teams to watch: Gulf Breeze, Tate

Other teams in the district: Navarre, Niceville

Predicted district champion: Gulf Breeze

– With Tate graduating two seniors that combined for 30 points per game last season, that opens the door for Gulf Breeze to make a run & avenge their playoff woes. Chance Napier notched 17.5 points per game as a junior, last year. Look for him to make a statement in 2018-19. A player to watch for Tate is 2020 guard Love Bettis (21.5 PPG).

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 8A-District 2

2017-18 winner: Lincoln went 19-9 (4-0 district) en route to a 14-point win over Leon in the district championship. Lincoln advanced to there regional final before falling to Creekside by four. Leon was taken out in the regional semis by 19, again by Lincoln.

Teams to watch: Lincoln, Leon

Other teams in the district: Chiles

Predicted district champion: Lincoln

– Leon & Lincoln both have graduated a slew of seniors, and Leon’s two best scorers have gone out the door along with them. Both teams are looking a shade younger, and Chiles hasn’t turned the corner, just yet. Lincoln may have the edge in a repeat effort, being that they went deep into the playoffs. The playoff experience is still present.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 8A-District 3 

2017-18 winner: First Coast had a great 2017-18 year, going 20-4 on the year & beating Atlantic Coast for the district crown. The Bucs’ season was cut short by Bartram Trail in the regional quarters, losing by six points. Atlantic Coast also lost by 16 to Creekside in the regional quarters.

Teams to watch: Atlantic Coast, Fletcher

Other teams in the district: Lee

Predicted district champion: Fletcher

– With First Coast losing their three best scorers, Atlantic Coast struggling up until they got to the playoffs, and Fletcher having a solid year record-wise in 2017, Fletcher has a solid chance of being able to take it a step further and make a push towards a district crown. The gap is closing between them and the competition. This should inspire Fletcher to rise up and make a run towards the trophy.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 8A-District 4 

2017-18 winner: Creekside won a barn-burning defensive battle vs. Bartram Trail, 32-30, to capture the district crown. Creekside advanced to the state championship game, falling to Blanche Ely by 23.

Teams to watch: Creekside, Bartram Trail, Fleming Island, Oakleaf

Other teams in the district: Buchholz

Predicted district champion: Creekside

– With the exception of Oakleaf’s Kenny Thomas, the top four teams returning to this district have lost their two best scorers to graduation. This district is somewhat of a toss-up, now. Being that Creekside advanced as far as they did, one could infer that the team has supplemental pieces that can help them to the promise land. 2020 forward Michael Phillips will be a key piece to the team’s success, in that regard—and he’s proved in the expo’s all summer that he can help deliver his team to another district crown.

Written by Jerome Reed

CLASS 8A-District 5

2017-18 winner: Edgewater went undefeated (10-0) in district play and 24-6 overall in the first season post-Anfernee Simons (a current Portland Trailblazers rookie guard). The Eagles beat Ocoee in the district final 71-60 and advanced all the way to the region final before losing to Winter Haven 71-68.

Teams to watch: Edgewater, Windermere, Lake Minneola, Ocoee, Lake Howell

Other teams in the district: East River, West Port, East Ridge

Predicted district champion: Edgewater

-This team plays fast and competes with just about everyone. Edgewater will be hard to knock off with 2020 guard Michael Eads (UNF, FAU, FIU offers) coming into his own alongside a reliable cast that boasts 2019 guard Trevon Cason, 2020 guard Shakur Poteat, 2020 forward Navuan Peterson and 2020 forward Xavier Barbel. Winderemere is going to be very relevant behind 2019 forward Dakota Rivers (FGCU signee), 2019 guard Dante Love, 2019 guard Joshua Colon and 2021 guard Trey Moss (USF, FGCU, FAU offers).

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 6

2017-18 Winner: Viera (19-7) beat Celebration 70-48 to take the district. The Hawks handled business against Ocoee in the region quarterfinal before losing to Edgewater 91-75 in the region semifinal round.

Teams to watch: Melbourne, Celebration, Viera, Hagerty

Other teams in the district: Harmony, Liberty, St. Cloud, Tohopekaliga

Predicted district champion: Melbourne

-The Bulldogs may have lost in the district semifinals a season ago, but this team is deep and athletic this year. 2019 forward Max Fiedler (Rice signee) is a double double nightly while 2019 guard Chris Roth, 2020 forward Reggie Hill and 2021 guard Joshua Mims are guys that will be important to the cause this season.

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 7

2017-18 winner: Winter Haven (23-10) won the district crown over Bartow 59-51. The Blue Devils reached the state semifinals before falling to Creekside 78-59.

Teams to watch: Bartow, Lakeland, Kathleen

Other teams in the district: Winter Haven

Predicted district champion: Lakeland

-Winter Haven graduated its top scorers and athletes. Bartow is still as sound and tough as they come behind 2019 guard JD Daughtry, 2020 forward Joshua Simons and 2020 guard Alex Vigo. The Yellow Jackets could very easily win this district but I’m going with Lakeland with a slight edge. 2019 forward Luke Anderson (Iowa State commit), 2019 forward Reese Yothers-Jackson, 2019 guard Sharond Poag, 2020 forward Pat Taylor and 2019 guard Jay Williams are all playmakers.

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 8

2017-18 winner: Wharton edged Plant 59-56 in the district final before clipping Bartow by one point and then losing to Winter Haven by 10 points in the region semifinal.

Teams to watch: Wharton, Plant, Wiregrass Ranch, Sickles

Other teams in the district: Freedom, Gaither, Leto, Steinbrenner

Predicted district champion: Wharton

-This is the Wildcats district to lose. Plant (2019 guard Logan Morrissey), Wiregrass Ranch (2019 guard Elijah Howell), Sickles (2022 guard Javohn Thomas) are all players to watch in this district. However, Wharton has a deep and sound group behind 2019 guard Darin Green Jr. (UCF signee), 2020 guard Carr Thiam, 2019 guard Jasper Floyd, 2020 guard Gio Reyes and 2020 forward Josh Barnett.

Written by Jake Perper

A predicted state champion will be announced in Part 2

 

Photo credit: Duval Sports