Manatee County public school teams will play in identical districts next fall to the ones they spent this past season in. Classes 8A, 7A and 5A underwent minor changes in Wednesday’s newly released districts, but none of the Florida High School Athletic Association’s changes will affect county teams.
Class 7A-District 11, which has been one of the most competitive in Florida during recent seasons, still contains Braden River, Palmetto and Lakewood Ranch, in addition to Sarasota County opponents Venice, Sarasota and North Port.
Manatee should remain a perennial favorite in Class 8A-District 6, which still includes Sarasota Riverview, Tampa Alonso, Lithia Newsome, Palm Harbor University, Riverview and Lutz Steinbrenner. And Class 5A-District 11 will still include Southeast and Bayshore, plus Arcadia DeSoto County, Wauchula Hardee and Englewood Lemon Bay.
All of the regions — Class 8A-Region 2, Class 7A-Region 3 and Class 5A-Region 3 — will remain the same, as well.
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Districts will remain the same for the next two seasons. Only one team from each district is guaranteed a spot in the postseason now, with four wild cards per region being chosen using a points system.
The most notable change comes for Cardinal Mooney, which will no longer be playing in a district under the new playoff format. The Cougars are one of eight teams in Class 3A-Region 3, along with Clearwater Calvary Christian, Ocala Trinity Catholic, St. Petersburg Catholic, Clearwater Central Catholic, Tampa Berkeley Prep, Lakeland Christian and Tampa Catholic. Trinity Catholic, which was in Class 3A-Region 2 this past season, is the only new addition.
With no districts, the new playoff system will send the top four teams from each region based on the points system on to the postseason
The area’s three independent programs all plan to remain in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. Saint Stephen’s is the SSAC’s reigning champion, and Bradenton Christian and Out-of-Door Academy just finished their first seasons in the conference. The SSAC plans to release its division assignments in the coming weeks.
Manatee County district assignments
Class 8A-District 6
- Sarasota Riverview
- Tampa Alonso
- Lithia Newsome
- Palm Harbor University
- Lutz Steinbrenner
Class 7A-District 11
- Braden River
- Lakewood Ranch
- North Port
Class 5A-District 11
- Arcadia DeSoto County
- Wauchula Hardee
- Englewood Lemon Bay
- Tampa Alonso