Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
By Bob Linfors
MIAMI | When the FHSAA forced schools to opt in or out of the state playoffs last September, over 90% of the 8A schools in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties opted out because there was no known start time for in-person classes in South Florida.
To opt in was to play only a game or two before the playoffs began in early November, risking a very short season. Wanting to guarantee their players as many games as possible, the three counties organized themselves into the Tri-County Championships and scheduled a regular season of five games to start in late October and a playoff tournament lasting three weeks in December.
The Christopher Columbus Explorers, coming off winning the FHSAA 8A State Championship in 2019, rose to the top again, defeating the Deerfield Beach Bucks 27-24 on Dec. 21, 2020 in the 8A Gold Division and capturing the highest prize in the Tri-County Championship series.
The Explorers finished the shortened regular season a perfect 5-0, defeating Killian 16-7, Booker T. Washington 28-12, Miami High 42-6, North Miami Beach 35-0, and Coral Gables 57-0.
COVID-19 reminded the high schools of reality: The Explorers won two games by forfeit to open the playoff rounds and advance to the final against Deerfield. The Bucks came to play hoping to avenge a loss to Columbus in the previous year’s state semifinal. But the Explorers shook off the rust and triumphed in the exciting back-and-forth game at Traz Powell Stadium. This marked the third straight year that Columbus played in a football championship final.
The Explorers finished the season 8-0 and had nine players, a school record, named 1st Team All-Dade.
“Our team put in a lot of hard work and remained determined and motivated all year,” said David Dunn, Columbus’ head football coach. “I’m very proud of how they played and how they handled this very challenging season.”
Bob Linfors teaches English and is running backs coach at Christopher Columbus High School.