What started out as a small eight team league nine years years ago, has become far more than what anyone could have ever imagined.
A group of small Christian schools felt like they couldn’t compete against the schools they were paired with in their district and in 2008 created the Sunshine State Athletic Conference.
The original SSAC eight members were Mount Dora Bible, Ocala St John Lutheran, Leesburg First Academy, Foundation Academy, Hernando Christian, Bishop McLaughlin, St. Pete Canterbury and Carrollwood Day.
Every year since, the league has expanded and continues to expand, last year the league added Bishop Snyder, Out of Door Academy, Bradenton Christian, Shorecrest Prep and Fort Myers Canterbury.
The addition of the five teams increased the state’s biggest conference to 28 teams for the 2016 season as well as new divisions and a new developmental league too.
The SSAC was divided up into two separate leagues: the Coastal and Coral, within those leagues are three separate divisions: Central Florida, Beach, Atlantic in the Coastal League and North Florida, Orange and Bay in the Coral League.
On Monday, Christ’s Church coach Jim Stomps announced more changes within the league starting with the creation of the First Coast Division. Newcomers Harvest Community and Duval Charter will join members Christ’s Church and Bishop Snyder to form an all area division.
Which is good news for Stomps who was placed in the North Florida Division last year with Leesburg First Academy, Mount Dora Christian and Ocala Christian along with Bishop Snyder.
No more two hour plus bus rides to Leesburg, Ocala or Mount Dora and now short trips across the county to Harvest, Bishop Snyder and Duval Charter.
“I am excited to have an all-Jacksonville Division in the SSAC,” said Stomps. “This will cut down on travel and build close rivalries between divisional schools from this area.
Stomps when on to say, “I respect Coach Markoski (Bishop Snyder), Coach Marts (Harvest) and Coach Lakey (Duval Charter), they are all coaches who work hard and positively build their teams players through the game of football.
“I believe that they all are great additions to the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. It also brings coverage and promotion to the SSAC in the North Florida area having 4 teams in the Jacksonville area.”
Aside from the all-area conference, Stomps is also excited about the 2017 season and looking to extend their playoff streak to three consecutive seasons.
Christ Church joined the league in 2015 and was part of the Beach Division competing with 6 teams from the Orlando area. The Eagles were division runner-ups and made the playoffs losing on the r0ad at Berean Christian in the first round.
This past fall with the addition of Bishop Snyder, the Eagles (8-2) remained in the Coastal Division and won the North Florida Division hosting their first ever playoff game before falling in the second round of the playoffs to Seven Rivers Christian.
The road will be a little easier for the Eagles as the division moves to the Coral Conference and away from defending SSAC Independent State Champion St. Stephens Academy, which remained in the Coastal Conference.
Stomps explained that the SSAC consists of two conferences the Coastal and Coral.
“There are 3 divisions in each with 16 total teams (8 from each side) making the playoffs and the winners of the Coastal and Coral Conferences will play for the SSAC Florida Independent State Championship Nov 19 at the Masters Academy,” Stomps stated.