DAYTONA A HIT AT THE GATE
did not have a lot of our student body. I think it would have been the same thing for Apopka and Edgewater. They would have had more students come to Orlando. Had the finals been in town I know it would have been crazy.”
The association ended its deal with Orlando and spread the finals across two weeks and two sites this year. Tallahassee hosted the Class 1A, 2A and 3A finals at Gene Cox Stadium three weekends ago. The 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A finals were played two weekends ago at Daytona Stadium.
The FHSAA said it sought other venues largely because Camping World was just too big. The stadium appeared to be nearly empty for many of the small-school finals and the association’s coaches advisory committee pushed for a setting where spirited crowds could be more involved.
“That was a positive note,” Williams said. “Our game did have that packed-house feel for high school football.”
The Jones-Northwestern crowd was the largest state final count since 10,078 watched Miami Central defeat Dr. Phillips of Orlando 42-27 in a Class 6A title game in 2010 at Camping World.
The five upper-classification finals had a total attendance of 25,554 in Daytona Stadium compared to 23,899 in 2018 when Lakeland and Cocoa were the two schools in proximity to Orlando.
The Orlando record for the football finals was set in 2007, the first year all the finals were played at what was then known as the Citrus Bowl. That total was 52,750, buoyed bigtime by a crowd of 21,688 that saw Miami Northwestern defeat hometown Boone 41-0.
The FHSAA finals record of 56,435 was set in 2006 at Dolphin Stadium (now named Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami. That was topped by the singlegame record of 23,101 to see hometown Northwestern defeat Lake Brantley 34-14.
The record for finals played outside Miami was 34,596 for just five games in 1997 at a college venue, Florida Field in Gainesville. Here are this season’s counts by game (1A through 3A in Tallahassee; 4A through 8A in Daytona Beach):
6,631 for Columbus beating Apopka in 8A.
5,248 for Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas beating Edgewater in 7A.
2,233 for Miami Central beating Pensacola Escambia in 6A.
9,522 for Miami Northwestern topping Jones for the 5A crown.
1,910 for Miami Booker T. Washington beating Jacksonville Bolles in 4A.
2,832 for Hollywood Chaminade beating Florida High in 3A.
963 for Hialeah Champagnat defeating Lakeland Victory Christian in 2A.
4,229 for Madison County beating Blountstown Class 1A.
The Jones High band cheers during the game against Miami Northwestern in the Class 5A state championship game at Daytona Stadium on Dec. 14. The game drew an attendance of 9,522.