There's a never-ending debate about which state has the best high school football. Traditionally, the fight over school football supremacy boils down to an argument between Texas and Florida schools (though some heretics do claim that California or even Georgia, Louisiana or Ohio have the best football around). If anyone could solve that debate, former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver and St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School star Michael Irvin figured he was the right man for the job.
"Deion Sanders said it best," Irvin told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "Both of them are great at pushing out athletes. That's what makes these matchups so intriguing, but Florida has better players and Texas has better facilities. Florida gets the edge, but barely."
Irvin was being polled on each state's strength ahead of this weekend's Texas vs. Florida showcase, which is being hosted by DeSoto (Texas) High School. The Showcase will feature four games matching ranked and highly respected programs from the two states, with five of the teams in the event currently in the RivalsHigh 100 (Texas' Abilene High is the highest ranked team at the event, currently sitting at No. 5). Irvin was just one voice among a host of high school and college coaches from Texas and Florida that the Sun Sentinel asked about the states' relative strengths.
There is plenty of reason for debate over the two southern states' relative football merit. The current Rivals100 list of top prospects includes 14 players from Texas and 20 from Florida, though three of the nation's top ten prospects hail from the sunshine state. Meanwhile, coaches from both Florida and Texas defended their state's talent base, but there was little debate that facilities used by Texas schools gave them a competitive advantage.
Perhaps in the interest of diplomacy, coaches from both states were quick to praise their counterparts before a weekend of ballyhooed interstate matchups.
"We've got two states that pride themselves on high school football," St. Thomas (Fla.) High coach George Smith told the Sun Sentinel. "If you went through both states and saw how many Division I guys they produce, it'd be quite a bit. There's definitely good football here."
"Both states have great talent," said Gary Gaines, coach of legendary Odessa Permian (Texas) High. "I don't think there's any question about that. We're proud of our football here in Texas and I'm sure they feel the same way in Florida."
What do you think? Does Florida football really have an edge over Texas? This weekend could provide fascinating insight into the states' relative strengths, but there's little doubt that the debate will rage on, regardless of results.
Photo from Getty Images.