(WMBB) – The Sunshine State Athletic Conference announced in April that it was expanding it’s North Florida League as it will now feature more than 50 percent of the states 1A high school football teams.
Panhandle teams who are in it this season are excited about the fact that they won’t just go up against other area teams for the final two weeks of the season.
“It’s a chance to get two guaranteed games against other 1A schools which sometimes it’s tough for a 1A school, you know a lot of times we have to play up to find games. That can be challenging so here’s an opportunity of course to say we get two guaranteed games against teams we should be competing against or having a similar type year or something like that,” Bozeman head football coach Jason Griffin said.
The Blountstown football team has been in the league since the start of it in 2019, even winning the inaugural North Florida Championship.
Tigers head coach Beau Johnson said with the expansion of it, it will be even better competition this season.
“Class A football in the state of Florida top to bottom is super nasty. The SSAC gives you something to play for there at the end of the year you might see some teams you don’t see all the time. It would be cool for our team to travel to Mayo and say look here guys Kerwin Bell played for them, he played for the Gators,” Johnson said.
Bozeman is one of the Panhandle teams who is joining the league this year. Griffin said he didn’t initially want to join, but sees how it can benefit his Bucks team this year.
“It’s not gonna be for everybody you know, and there is still some negative parts to it where as you are not guaranteed to play one home and one away, you might have to play two games away, so there is still some aspects that are not ideal but where we are currently as to where we were a couple years go, it just fits better for Bozeman,” Griffin said.
The other upsides to being a part of it including splitting the gate for each game, no matter where it’s at, and it also gives players a chance to not only compete for an FHSAA Championship at the end of the year, but another title before they get into the state playoffs.
“When the state did away with districts, it gives our kids something to play for, and no matter if your a one seed, two seed, three seed, four seed, your gonna be bracketed with teams kind of like yourself and those last two weeks you tell your kids, ‘hey we win the next two games we win something it gives us something to play for,'” Johnson said.
The football season begins in August and the two North Florida League games will be played at the end of the regular season before the FHSAA playoffs begin.