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As Region Suffers, Football Stars Shine Bright

If you had to pick the county in America with the best high school football players, it would probably be Los Angeles -- but that's not fair: With 10 million people, L.A. County's the biggest county in the nation. Now if you picked the best tricounty area, per capita, for high school football, you'd simply have to go with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

For the latter two, this is a particularly strong year. St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale boasts the nation's top-ranked team. And prospectwise, Broward and Palm Beach account for three of the talent-rich state's top five players on this recently released top 100 list by Orlando Sentinel recruiting analyst Bill Buchalter. More than one in four prospects on that list come from Broward and Palm Beach high schools. Factor in Miami-Dade prospects and South Florida has nearly half the state's best players.

There's a reason nobody at the University of Tennessee is complaining about the expense of that program's buying billboard space to curry favor with players in Broward.

The South Florida housing market was a myth. So was the rule that the population would continue to grow. But football brilliance is a single point of local pride that's recession-proof.

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Thomas Francis

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