Door slowly opens on interleague play

For the first time since a controversial new state law gave them permission, two teams from the breakaway Sunshine Independent Athletic Association tiptoed into Florida High School Athletic Association territory to play football last week.

Predictably, given the matchups, the games were duds.


SIAA member Jacksonville Potter's House Christian played Yulee, which has blue-chip running back Derrick Henry and needed a home game. Potter's House got trampled 55-0.

Another small SIAA school, Jacksonville Arlington Country Day, trekked 730-plus miles round trip to play Pensacola Pine Forest, which was scrambling for playing dates with only seven games solidified. ACD lost 73-0.


In football, at least for now, SIAA teams truly are not in the same league as most FHSAA schools.

But it's a different story in basketball, where three or four elite players can make a team a handful. SIAA powers ACD and West Oaks have been magnets for basketball prospects, many from out of state, and both have been ranked nationally.

It appears certain that the first SIAA vs. FHSAA boys basketball clash will be played at Orlando Christian Prep on Saturday, Nov. 24, when ACD meets Sarasota Riverview as part of the Thanks for Hoops showcase presented by Hoop Exchange. The rest of that field will be FHSAA basketball powers, including Montverde Academy, OCP, Lake Highland, Dr. Phillips and Deerfield Beach.

"It's good for basketball in Florida," said ACD coach Rex Morgan, whose program was a lightning rod for controversy as it won a record-tying five consecutive state titles (2005-09) before parting ways with the FHSAA in 2010. "We've got eight [Division I] kids, counting our younger guys. But people will see we don't have LeBron and Kobe suited up. We're a high-school basketball team."


House Bill 1403, which became law on July 1, stated that the FHSAA cannot discourage member schools from playing non-members. Still, it is pretty clear typical high-school teams aren't knocking down the door to play SIAA squads, not that they were ringing Morgan's phone off the hook when he was in the FHSAA.

Morgan said he also has a game scheduled against FHSAA member North Florida Educational Institute, a Jacksonville school that now has Georgia Tech commit Solomon Poole.

Montverde, which will be in the chase for a national championship, has a home game against Oldsmar Christian of the SIAA.

New West Oaks athletic director Bobby Martin, a former Central Florida Christian and Oak Ridge basketball coach, said he has had conversations with several FHSAA schools, but at this point, he has no interleague games locked in.

Record chase

Yulee brings the Derrick Henry show to Central Florida on Friday when the Hornets play at Groveland South Lake (2-0).

Henry, a 6-foot-3, 241-pound Mack Truck, is in a race with Belle Glade Glades Day workhorse Kelvin Taylor (5-11, 215) in pursuit of a four-season national rushing record (11,232 yards) that has stood since 1953. Their teams will meet Sept. 28 in a national TV game (ESPN) at Yulee.

Taylor, son of former UF and NFL back Fred Taylor, has 8,454 yards (not counting his eighth-grade varsity season). Henry has 8,442, with both going over 2,400 in each of the past three years.


Taylor has averaged 226 as a junior and senior, a pace that gets him to 11,166 if the Gators (2-0) make the 2A state final and he gets 14 games.

Class 4A Yulee is unlikely to play more than 12 games, which hinders Henry's chances. If he can carry the Hornets to the Citrus Bowl final and gets 14 games, his junior/senior average of 225 gets him to 11,142.