FHSAA finalizes football districts after Orlando area teams go independent

The number of Orlando area football teams opting to go independent and drop out of the Florida High School Athletic Association football playoff system for the next two seasons nearly doubled late Tuesday with the release of revised classifications and districts.

Minimal changes were made to the FHSAA’s initial classification rollout in December even with Orange County Public Schools pulling eight of its 23 schools out of districts earlier this month.

That move allows programs to make their own schedules and avoid mandatory district play in 2024 and ’25.

Independent teams are not eligible to participate in state playoffs.

OCPS schools Colonial, Cypress Creek, East River, Lake Buena Vista, Oak Ridge, University, Windermere and Innovation join Gateway and Liberty of Osceola County and Lake County’s Umatilla as newly independent programs.

Innovation, designed to relieve overcrowding at Lake Nona, opens this fall in east Orange County with no senior class.

The number of independent teams among the 68 football schools in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake and southwest Volusia counties rises from 14 to 25.

Most area teams that play independently are smaller private schools that will compete in the growing Sunshine State Athletic Association.

What changed

Boone and Freedom move into a Class 7A Region 1 district with Timber Creek and Winter Park to fill the void created by Colonial, Oak Ridge and University.

Boone was initially slotted in a west Orange County district that competes in Region 3. Freedom was elevated from Class 6A.

Celebration (originally District 10) and Clermont East Ridge (District 5) were shuffled to District 9 in place of Boone and Windermere. That creates a three-county district that includes rivals Dr. Phillips and Olympia.

Bishop Moore, viewed as the favorite to win District 6, could see new challenges in the postseason the next two years as South Sumter and The Villages were added to District 5 in Class 3A Region 2. South Sumter was a regional finalist the past two seasons.

Classes and districts

New “final” classification and district assignments for regions involving Orlando area football teams are listed below. Asterisks indicate a change in school placement since the December announcement.

7A Region 1

District 1

Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville)

Creekside (St. Johns)

Sandalwood (Jacksonville)

District 2


Flagler Palm Coast

Spruce Creek (Port Orange)

University (Orange City)

District 3

Hagerty (Oviedo)

Lake Brantley

Lake Mary

Seminole (Sanford)

District 4

*Boone (Orlando)

*Freedom (Orlando)

Timber Creek (Orlando)

Winter Park

7A Region 2

District 5



West Orange (Winter Garden)

West Port (Ocala)

District 6

George Jenkins (Lakeland)

Haines City

Ridge Community (Davenport)

Winter Haven

District 7

Alonso (Tampa)

Newsome (Lithia)

Plant City

Strawberry Crest (Dover)

Sumner (Riverview)

District 8

Lehigh (Lehigh Acres)

Riverview (Sarasota)



7A Region 3

District 9


Dr. Phillips (Orlando)

*East Ridge (Clermont)

Olympia (Orlando)

District 10


Lake Nona (Orlando)

Tohopekaliga (Kissimmee)

District 11

Centennial (Port St. Lucie)

Fort Pierce Central

Treasure Coast (Port St. Lucie)

Vero Beach

District 12


Palm Beach Central (Wellington)

Palm Beach Lakes (West Palm Beach)


6A Region 1

District 1




Tate (Cantonment)

District 2

First Coast (Jacksonville)

Fletcher (Neptune Beach)

Mandarin (Jacksonville)

Oakleaf (Orange Park)

District 3

Bartram Trail (St. Johns)

Buchholz (Gainesville)

Nease (Ponte Vedra)

Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine)

District 4

Evans (Orlando)

Lake Howell (Winter Park)


Wekiva (Apopka)

6A Region 2

District 5


Osceola (Kissimmee)

St. Cloud

Viera (Melbourne)

District 6


Forest (Ocala)

Horizon (Winter Garden)

Lake Minneola

South Lake (Groveland)

District 7


Bloomingdale (Valrico)

Durant (Plant City)

Riverview (Riverview)

District 8

Armwood (Seffner)

Plant (Tampa)

Sickles (Tampa)

Wharton (Tampa)

5A Region 2

District 5

Edgewater (Orlando)

Lyman (Longwood)

Winter Springs

District 6

Kathleen (Lakeland)

Lake Gibson (Lakeland)



District 7

Cypress Creek (Wesley Chapel)

Gaither (Tampa)

Springstead (Spring Hill)

Wesley Chapel

District 8

East Bay (Gibsonton)

Leto (Tampa)

Spoto (Riverview)

Tampa Bay Tech

4A Region 2

District 5




Vanguard (Ocala)

District 6


New Smyrna Beach

Pine Ridge (Deltona)


Seabreeze (Daytona Beach)

District 7


Jones (Orlando)

Lake Region (Eagle Lake)

Lake Wales

District 8

Fivay (Hudson)

Freedom (Tampa)

Pasco (Dade City)


3A Region 2

District 5


Eastside (Gainesville)

North Marion (Citra)

*South Sumter (Bushnell)

*The Villages

District 6

Atlantic (Port Orange)

Bishop Moore (Orlando)


Mount Dora


District 7

Central (Brooksville)

Citrus (Inverness)

Crystal River

Hernando (Brooksville)

Weeki Wachee

District 8

Eau Gallie (Melbourne)

Merritt Island

Palm Bay (Melbourne)

Satellite (Satellite Beach)


1A Region 2

District 5

*Crescent City

Father Lopez (Daytona Beach)

Halifax Academy (Daytona Beach)

Taylor (Pierson)

District 6

The First Academy (Orlando)

Foundation Academy (Winter Garden)

Holy Trinity (Melbourne)

Melbourne Central Catholic

Orlando Christian Prep

District 7

*Carrollwood (Tampa)

Lakeland Christian

Victory Christian (Lakeland)

District 8

*Clearwater Central Catholic

*Indian Rocks Christian (Largo)

Independent schools

Central Florida Christian (Orlando)

*Colonial (Orlando)

Cornerstone Charter (Belle Isle)

*Cypress Creek (Orlando)

*East River (Orlando)

Faith Christian (Orlando)

First Academy (Leesburg)

*Gateway (Kissimmee)

*Innovation (Orlando)

*Lake Buena Vista (Orlando)

Lake Highland Prep (Orlando)

Legacy Charter (Ocoee)

*Liberty (Kissimmee)

The Master’s Academy (Oviedo)

Mount Dora Christian

*Oak Ridge (Orlando)

Orangewood Christian (Maitland)

Poinciana (Kissimmee)

Trinity Christian (Deltona)

Trinity Preparatory (Winter Park)

*University (Orlando)


*Windermere High

Windermere Prep

West Oaks (Orlando)

This article originally appeared on Email J.C. Carnahan at