High school football power rankings: Treasure Coast tops preseason list

Jon Santucci
Treasure Coast Newspapers

Before we even get to the rankings, just relax.

We haven’t played a game yet on the Treasure Coast, so reading too much into preseason rankings isn’t a good idea.

In fact, these rankings are more guesswork than they’ve ever been. The coronavirus shutdown wiped out all of spring football, which usually is a decent indicator of where teams would be slotted heading into the fall. We had abbreviated summer workouts and a delayed start to the season, meaning we never got a Kickoff Classic.

All we have to go on is what players are returning, who has holes to fill and what we think will happen based on that information.

Here are TCPalm’s power rankings heading into Week 1.

1. Treasure Coast

Final 2019 ranking: 2

This week: at Jensen Beach

The Titans had the area’s best offense in 2019 and there’s little reason to think they won’t again. Treasure Coast had a pair of all-state returnees — quarterback Turk Watkins and fullback/tight end Keegan Davis — running behind a physical offensive line.

More:In his own words: Treasure Coast's Keegan Davis explains how he picked his college home

2. Fort Pierce Westwood

Final 2019 ranking: 4

This week: Game has been postponed

Westwood is one of the few teams with returning talent all over the field, including all-area players at wide receiver (Vandrevious Jacobs), defensive end (James Gardner Jr.) and cornerback (James Monds III). The Panthers also return quarterback Maurice Smith Jr. and added running back Rod Huntley.

More:Fort Pierce Westwood cancels practices because of COVID-19 related issue

3. Vero Beach

Final 2019 ranking: 1

This week: Game has been cancelled

Ridiculous, right? The team with a 62-game regular season win streak has three of the top five players on the TCPalm Super 11 (defensive ends Keanu Koht and Travonte O’Neal and linebacker Davon Hicks), but they graduated a lot of production on offense and come into the season with no clear answer at quarterback.

More:TCPalm Super 11: Vero Beach defensive end Keanu Koht is ready to show his full game

4. St. Lucie West Centennial

Final 2019 ranking: 3

This week: Game has been postponed

Centennial has to replace most of its starters from last year’s team, determine who the quarterback will be and, oh yeah, they still haven’t had a padded practice. A positive COVID-19 test at the school prompted the program to cancel practices. Still, the Eagles return two Super 11 defenders — linebacker Deshauwn Alleyne and cornerback Henry Pickens — and have explosive playmakers.

More:TCPalm Super 11: Centennial LB Deshauwn Alleyne has high expectations, but he can reach them

5. John Carroll Catholic

Final 2019 ranking:  7

This week: at Port St. Lucie

The Golden Rams return the Treasure Coast’s best athlete -- Jay Allen -- at quarterback, talent and surprising depth on the offensive and defensive lines (a rarity for a Class 3A program) and all-state kicker Marcos Gamboa. John Carroll has to replace all-area skill position players, but there are more answers than questions heading into 2020.

More:John Carroll Catholic quarterback Jay Allen invited to prestigious Elite 11 Finals

6. Jensen Beach

Final 2019 ranking: 5

This week: vs. Treasure Coast

The Falcons, coming off the first district title in program history, return one of the area’s premier all-around players in senior defensive back/wide receiver Da’Quan Gonzales. They also have experienced athletes such as running back Andrew Burnette and safety Jeremiah Denuad, but the young offensive line will be tested early.

More:TCPalm Super 11: Jensen Beach's Da'Quan Gonzales has skyrocketed up recruiting boards

7. Martin County

Final 2019 ranking: 10

This week: at Fort Pierce Central

The potential is there to make a big jump in coach Rod Harris’ third year. Martin County returns nine defensive starters as well the area’s best returning quarterback-wide receiver duo in juniors Jaxon Scott and Amarion Brown.

More:Football recruiting: Martin County WR Amarion Brown adds three more Power 5 offers

8. South Fork

Final 2019 ranking: 9

This week: vs. Sebastian River

The Bulldogs return the backfield combination of junior quarterback Matt Bowman and senior running back Andrew Balmes and have other athletes who could help on the offensive side of the ball. The defense should be better now that coordinator Antwan Blatch is in his second full year.

More:TCPalm PrepZone 2-a-Days: South Fork and Martin County

9. Fort Pierce Central

Final 2019 ranking: 8

This week: vs. Martin County

Central quietly had one of the area’s best defenses in 2019, holding six of their opponents to one offensive touchdown or less. If the defense can continue to play well under coordinator Terell Floyd and the offense can improve under new starting quarterback Nick Halliday, the Cobras will surprise some people.

More:Week 2 football wrapup: Terell Floyd has Fort Pierce Central's defense headed in right direction

10. Sebastian River

Final 2019 ranking: 6

This week: at South Fork

The Sharks came painfully close to earning an at-large playoff spot last season and will be looking to build on a strong second season under coach Tony Perry. Sebastian River graduated an outstanding senior class, headlined by All-American defensive lineman Tim Smith, but return some key starters, including running back/safety John Butler.

More:Football recruiting: Sebastian River DL Tim Smith named to Sports Illustrated All-American team

11. Port St. Lucie

Final 2019 ranking: 11

This week: vs. John Carroll Catholic

This is probably too low for a team that returns its front seven, led by linebacker Gevaris Desire and defensive end Devon Felder, as well as quarterback Tyler Stone and talented sophomore running back Saleem Felder. But the offensive line is a work in progress and the early schedule might be the toughest in the area.

More:TCPalm Two-a-Days: Port St. Lucie excited about young running backs Saleem Felder, Ricky Cooper

12. Okeechobee

Final 2019 ranking: 12

This week: at Moore Haven

With only five seniors in the expected starting lineup, the Brahmans certainly have one of the youngest teams on the Treasure Coast. The good news is Okeechobee has a very exciting group of skill position players, led by junior athlete Jayquavious Thomas and sophomore running back Michael Burgarelli.

13. St. Edward’s

Final 2019 ranking: 13

This week: No game

Transitioning to a new coach is difficult enough. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mark Gowin hasn’t been able to even run his first official practice with the Pirates. Still, the team does have senior athlete Brennan Wolfe, who was a 2019 midseason all-area selection before suffering a season-ending injury.  

More:New St. Edward's football coach Mark Gowin ready for return to sidelines after almost a decade away from field