Duval Sports

Honorable Mention Stories of the Year: Part II Winter Season

We look back at some of the top high school sports moments of the 2016-2017 school year from around the First Coast area. Whether its football, volleyball, swimming or cross country, we look back at another amazing year in high school sports.

We begin with the fall and continue in Part II with the winter and Part III with the spring; before releasing our top ten stories of the year.

January

The winter season kicked off with the 10th Annual Cheerleading State Championships Jan 27-28 inside the O’Dome in Gainesville. Who would have thought the First Coast area would dominate the sport so well? Over the two day event, the area had a remarkable run of success with 19 area squads finishing in the top five of their respective classes. Bartram Trail, West Nassau, Baldwin, Middleburg all won state titles, while Palm Coast, Fleming Island, University Christian, Menendez, Clay, Ridgeview and Creekside finished second. Mandarin (3), Oakleaf (4), Union County (5), Providence (5), Trinity (5), Bishop Snyder (3) and Orange Park (4) placed in the top five as well.

While her team may have not had the success she wanted, senior Miracle Porter had an unbelievable year herself. Porter finished her high school career with 238 career goals including an unbelievable 57 goals and 41 assists for the Matanzas Pirates this year. Her 238 goals surpassed Andrea Sellers (229) to become the all-time leading scorer in Florida Girls Soccer High School history. For her efforts, Porter was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Girl Soccer Player of the Year in addition to signing a letter of intent to play at Florida Atlantic.

February

The first week of February allowed girls weightlifting the opportunity to show off its talents to the rest of the state at the FHSAA girls weightlifting state tournament. The First Coast area was well represented with 13 teams finishing in the top 25. Clay had the best showing finishing fourth, followed by Baker County (5), Bartram Trail (7), Fort White (9), Union County (9), Atlantic Coast (15), Middleburg (15), Paxon (17), Interlachen (22), Sandalwood (24), Mandarin (25), Bradford (25) and Ribault (25).

It had been eight years since Stanton had advanced past the second round of the playoffs, with one of their best teams in the programs history the Blue Devils were determined to prove it on the field and they did.  Wins over Menendez (4-1), Ponte Vedra (1-0) and nemesis Gulf Breeze (3-1) advanced the Blue Devils to their first  state semifinal appearance. Having already gone where no Blue Devils team had ever gone before the ladies were determined to keep it going and did with a 2-1 win over Land O’Lakes to advance to the Class 3A state girls soccer championship game. Making their first ever state championship appearance, the Blue Devils played exceptionally well and played to a scoreless draw with Merritt Island forcing it to be settled in penalty kicks. However, Merritt Island won the title after winning 4-2 in penalty kicks to close out the best season in the Blue Devils history.

After coming up a win short of making its first appearance in the state semifinals last season, Creekside was determined to finish the goal this past season. Road wins over Fletcher (2-1), Bartram Trail (2-1) and Niceville (1-0) advanced the Knights to their first state semifinal where they easily defeated Mitchell 4-1 to make school history. Only state power, St. Thomas Aquinas  stood in their way of bringing home a first state title; however the Knights couldn’t break through the Raiders defense and lost 2-0 in the final.

Longtime coach Frank Pontore is starting to build a dynasty at Fleming Island winning his second state title at the school in the last five years. The Golden Eagles (24-1-2) captured their second title with a 4-0 win over Miami Doral Feb 18 at Spec Martin Stadium. A big reason for the Eagles success was Reed Davis, who scored 50 goals and became the first Eagles player to win the coveted Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Soccer award, given to the best player in the state.

March

Longtime coach Jim Reape continues the long standing tradition of Clay wrestling with another top five finish at the state meet. Nemesis Lake Highland Prep won the team title with 298.5 points well ahead of Clay, who finished second with 129 points, just ahead of nemesis Cardinal Gibbons who finished third with 121 points. A big reason why Clay did so well was the runner-up finish of Keath Sawdow (52-7) in the 145 weight class final.