Florida rolls past California, into final

Originally Published: October 8, 2008
ESPNRISE.com

Too bad our skills at predicting the Great State Debate probably wouldn't be as accurate in picking the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

In seeding the eight states that were selected as finalists for the ESPNRISE.com debate centering on which state is the best for high school football, it was believed that Texas and Florida would end up in the final showdown. This wasn't necessarily a rebuke of any other state's football credentials, but because we've experienced the passion of Texas' and Florida's fans, players and coaches firsthand.

Lakeland fan Andy Mastalski
AP Photo/John RaouxWith fans like these, it's no surprise Florida rolled over California.

Voting for this week's semifinal between Florida and California ended earlier today and it wasn't as close as we thought it would be, given California's huge population edge. Florida ended up on top with nearly 60 percent of the vote. This indeed sets up the final between No. 1 seed Texas (which outpolled Pennsylvania in the first semifinal) and No. 2 seed Florida.

Both states have numerous claims to football greatness and we'll dive into this matchup Monday. As part of our Great State Debate for next week, we will reveal the ESPN RISE all-time, all-state teams for both Texas and Florida. The state that wins the final Great State Debate may be the one that people think might win an actual game involving those two honor squads.

The Best of the
Great State Debate

"I know people don't like 'facts' on these message boards, but here are some:
- as the article said: more NFL players, Hall of Famers, and Heismans
- Players from California have won Heismans at more schools, even Florida schools, than any other state.
- Long Beach Poly went TO MIAMI and gave 'Miami's best' Northwestern the business

"Okay now to my opinion. Both states produce great talent, but the difference between the two states is the talent level of the guys outside of the top level. Those guys that aren't the USC, UCLA, UF, UM or FSU guys. When you get to that level you see that California talent surpasses that of any state. The only proof that I can offer is when you see some of the top level players and how their seasons end. Here are a few example the current best player in the nation, Matt Barkley (gatorade player of the year as a Junior) is 3-2. Those two losses coming from teams with a combined 1 player on the ESPN150.

"In California it takes an entire team and in Florida, one player can get you a championship."
-- BJF59

"As a person who played football on a high school and college level and especially having to play De La Salle High School twice a year, California Football is hands down the best state. Two of my teammates have made it to the pros (Jamir Miller and Je'Rod Cherry), played against a Heisman winner (Gino Toretta) and a superbowl wide out (Amani Toomer) in high school Je'Rod having 3 Superbowl rings and Amani Toomer having one, only in Cali can one can say that."
-- Phat_Snax

"California high schools fuel one team: USC. Florida high schools fuel three+: UF, FSU, UM. At least one of those teams are always near the top of the rankings. Cali might produce more quantity because of the population, but quality goes to Florida schools. It's pretty simple, teams come to Florida to get talent. USC did it this past year with T.J. Bryant, flying Pete Carroll 3,000 miles across the country to see a kid from the panhandle."
-- drk06

"Of course california is gonna pump out a lot of division one players just look at the size and population of the state. Florida is becoming such a power house when it comes to football. I saw the Miami northwestern game against carroll from texas and let me tell you those guys can play. I run a 4.4 and only about one more guy on my team does and when you look at that miami team it seems like all of their skill players are running them consistently. Over the past 2 years the teams from florida have beaten the best from ohio and texas."
-- speedy3017