Winning a Florida High School Athletic Association football state championship is no easy endeavor.
Sanford Seminole and Bishop Moore are among a select trio of Orlando area schools that have done it twice.
Those programs host regional championship games Friday. The ‘Noles face Jacksonville Mandarin in Class 4 Metro and Bishop Moore plays Jacksonville Bolles in 2M.
DeLand, Jones, Lake Minneola and Orlando Christian Prep all play on the road.
“Mandarin is a great team, we saw them in the first round last year,” Seminole coach Karl Calhoun Jr. said. “They’ve got great running backs, they’ve got good receivers, a good defense; We just need to play our game and play football.”
Bishop Moore, in the postseason for the 16th consecutive year, won a second-round playoff game last week for just the second time since 2016.
Apopka’s three state championships (2001, 2012, 2014) under former head coach Rick Darlington are the most for any school in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake and southwest Volusia counties.
Darlington is in his second season at DeLand, which is enjoying its best season since reaching the state finals for the only time in 2009.
The Bulldogs travel to Port St. Lucie to clash with a Treasure Coast team that carries some similarities. Treasure Coast coach Irvin Jones has had success in recent years while utilizing variations of Darlington’s single-wing offense.
“We’d really rather be playing at home, but we don’t get that choice,” Darlington said following a semifinal win vs. Orange City University. “We’re getting better. When you can run the football, stop the run and not turn it over, that’s a good recipe for winning in the playoffs.”
Lake Minneola, which joins DeLand as a Class 4 Suburban region finalist, plays at defending state champion Lakeland for the second consecutive season.
Both Lake Minneola and Jones are on 8-game win streaks and playing in the regional final round for the fourth time since 2019.
Jones plays at Tampa Bay Tech in 3M after rallying for a 28-24 win at previously unbeaten Edgewater.
“Going into the season we were a young team, so it was a little rough at the beginning,” said Jones defensive lineman…