DAY­TONA A HIT AT THE GATE

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS TUESDAY -

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.

STEPHEN M. DOW­ELL/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL

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.

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