For the past seven years, Miami Carol City, Miami Central, Miami Norland, and Miami Northwestern High School football programs have been taking each other out to clear a path to the District 6A state championship. Central began this remarkable run by claiming the state title for three straight years, from 2012 to 2015. Carol City claimed the trophy in 2016. And Northwestern just capped off a championship repeat by blanking Seffner Armwood 22-0 in a repeat of last year’s District 4A state title game.
The four inner-city schools are football powerhouses that have produced the largest number of NFL players but have been unfairly forced to compete against each other for one annual shot at a state championship. Now, school board member Steve Gallon III has a proposal that could give Carol City, Central, Norland, and Northwestern more than one path to a title.
At next week’s Miami-Dade School Board meeting, Gallon wants to authorize Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and his staff to review the classification of high-school athletic programs so that the four inner-city schools don’t have to keep fighting one another for the same state 6A district title every year. At the same time, a reclassification would give these schools an opportunity to compete against prominent private-school football programs such as St. Thomas Aquinas and Christopher Columbus for state titles. Under the current system, the four inner-city schools compete in the same district. For the past seven years, Central, Carol City, and Northwestern have won state titles in the 6A division. Along the way, the teams have to take each another out.
Meanwhile, Columbus, which plays in District 8A, and St. Thomas, which is in District 7A, have easier paths to state championship games because they play against lesser competition. According to Gallon, he wants to end the “competitive cannibalism” among the four inner-city schools.
“This item, if approved by the board, will square the classifications of high-school athletic programs in Miami-Dade,” Gallon told me. “A reclassification of the programs in our district can end the pathway to a state championship being at the defeat of neighboring schools. We can create a true win-win.”
Gallon is right. The classifications are based on student enrollment numbers. While Central, Carol City, Northwestern, and Norland have remained in District 6A for the past seven years, the schools’ populations have fluctuated. It’s time to do a proper headcount so these schools can be properly classified.
It’s a great way of opening up the competition in other districts. The inner-city schools would still be able to schedule one another but would also be vying for state titles in other districts against Columbus and St. Thomas, as well as other top high-school programs in Florida.
Gallon’s proposal has a good chance of passing. Last week, a school board committee that includes Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, who represents a majority of the schools that would be affected by the reclassification, unanimously cosponsored Gallon’s request.
Gallon, no stranger to challenging the status quo, must have rocked the establishment of the Florida High School Athletic Association. The FHSAA is already scrambling to reclassify schools as Gallon called for. Ahead of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Carol City is now in District 4A and Northwestern is in District 5A. And Belen Jesuit went from District 8A to 6A, where the West Dade private school will now have to go through Miami Central to reach a state title game.
I know that in government and politics, there are no coincidences. I’m sure the FHSAA got Gallon’s memo.
If the school board passes Gallon’s plan, it will be interesting to see how the board for the Greater Miami Athletic Conference (GMAC), which oversees high-school sports, reacts to the reclassification. Its members might feel political pressure from Belen and Gulliver Prep, a 4A school that now must compete against Carol City, to change districts to avoid playing the inner-city schools. The school board should make sure the GMAC stays loyal to the public schools.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.