Blu’s Blog: It’s Never Too Late To Make An Impression

Larry BlockSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

As we just finished with the sixth week of the season, several South Florida programs are finding themselves on the brink of elimination.

But does that mean it’s time to throw in the towel?

Not being in the spotlight and in a district playoff race is never fun and not easy for coaches, but last week, when Coral Park decided to forfeit a district game to Christopher Columbus – it opened up a discussion that really hit home to many.

The FHSAA has rules that programs who forfeit district games are not eligible to compete for a district playoff spot. That game could have been made up on any of the next four Mondays or even Tuesday – giving these young men a chance to help themselves, even by playing against a team that many feel could end up in Orlando this December.

Even though the Rams had little chance of beating the Explorers, that was not the issue. The entire message has been lost in South Florida, and when the players didn’t have the opportunity to compete and get some additional film, it may have hurt their chances of getting that college exposure needed.

Pointing fingers is easy to do, and having been around high school football for nearly six decades, we have watched how hard these young men work during the year to attract college attention. We have also witnessed firsthand how difficult it is to get an education paid for.

If schools such as Coral Park believe that their football program cannot compete on a level like the other schools in their district, they need to explore different options. The athletes who have been promoting themselves on Twitter and Facebook as well as sending their film off to college coaches across the nation, deserve to get as many exposure opportunities as possible.

If we have learned anything, especially in a hotbed like South Florida, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel; and whether it’s Coral Park or any other program – if you make a commitment to have a football team, you need to give every member of that team an opportunity to maximize their talents and exposure.

It’s been seven years since that magical state championship appearance for the Belen Jesuit Wolverines and head coach Rich Stuart, but those same principles that gave this program an opportunity to beat teams such as Norland, Booker T. Washington, Northwestern and Jackson are very much in place today.

In last Thursday’s thrilling come-from-behind district win over Southwest Miami, the Wolverines made the plays that they have for decades under Stuart and a coaching staff that continues to teach and coach as well anyone in South Florida.

Big offensive plays and a defense that got stingy when it mattered most, gave this program an upper hand to once again host a first-round playoff game.

“We made a lot of mistakes and didn’t execute for most of the game, but give this team credit for staying close and being in a position to come from 10 points down late in the fourth quarter,” Stuart explained. “We have a lot of young players on this team, but our veterans have been great for us so far.”

The Eagles had come into the game unbeaten under head coach Tim Neal, and while they out-gained the Wolverines by a substantial margin, two early plays defined the game.

When freshman Don Chaney, Jr., returned kicks for scores and made a major impact. Most on hand were puzzled why Southwest would continue to kick to one of the most explosive freshmen in the country.

2018 – Gabriel Aparicio, DB
2020 – Don Chaney, Jr., RB/DB
2017 – Matthew Crespo, DB
2018 – Gabriel Estrada,
2017 – Jordan Galvez, RB/LB
2017 – Pedro Garcia, FB/S
2018 – Javier Hernandez, RB
2018 – Roberto Lacasa, DE/TE
2018 – Matthew Martin, TE/DE
2017 – Peter Martin, OL
2017 – Robert Martinez, DB
2018 – Ricky Mayo, DB/WR
2017 – Victor Lopez de Mendoza, QB/S
2017 – Francisco Menendez, RB/CB
2019 – Matthew Moreno, DL
2017 – Diego Ortega, WR
2020 – Nicholas Oyarzun, OL
2018 – Ivan Pachon, DB
2020 – Nathaniel Payne, WR
2019 – Stefano Pinto, OL
2018 – Joey Plasencia, TE/DE
2017 – Lucas Pola, QB
2018 – Javan Rice, PK
2017 – Alfonso Rodriguez DB
2017 – Stefano Santamaria, DT
2018 – Joseph Schultz, DL
2017 – Gabriel Seda, LB
2018 – Jorge Vizcarrondo, S

2019 – Ian Castellanos, OL
2018 – Emmanuel de la Noval, S/LB
2017 – Joel Delgado, DE
2019 – Samuel Diaz, DL
2017 – Kevin Dixon, OL
2018 – Donovan Edouard, Athlete
2017 – Derek Gonzalez, WR
2017 – Oliver Guerra, WR
2018 – Manuel Iglesias, WR
2017 – J.J. Jaramillo, QB
2017 – Connor Jervis, LB
2017 – Mike Martinez, LB
2017 – Marquise McCrea, WR
2017 – Michael Mirales, DE
2019 – Cornelius Nunn, DB
2017 – Manny Pineda, Athlete
2017 – Amir Rivera, WR
2018 – Herman Rodriguez, OL
2019 – Nick Serrano, OL
2020 – Andre Stringfield, RB/DB
2017 – Keanu Sullivan, OL
2018 – Te’Corey Tutson, RB/DB

Before last Saturday morning’s district showdown with Plantation at home, head coach Art Taylor talked about how the first four games of the season got away from his Everglades football team.

When the Gators took to the field for a homecoming contest that was postponed from the night before by lightning, this had all the making of a win – and a key district victory.

While the offense sputtered and looked for every yard possible against a much improved Jessie Norris-coached Colonel team, it was the defense and special teams that saved the day.

“We came out and played the football game the way I know this team can play,” Taylor told his players after a 5-0 win. “Are there things that we have to correct? Yes, but I am encouraged that we are 1-1 and very much in this district playoff race.”

With the game in jeopardy of heading to overtime, the Gators finally broke the ice with time running down in the fourth quarter when senior Gianmarco Garafolo connected on a 35-yard field goal. The Gators added a safety in the closing seconds of the contest.

“We have a long way to go with this young team, but we are still very much in this thing and every game is a huge for us,” said Norris, who is in his first year with Plantation. “Defensively, I cannot say enough about how we came out and played. They held them to just over 100 yards for the entire game.”

2018 – Reginald Anthony, QB
2017 – Marquis Benjamin, DE
2018 – Chris Campbell, DE
2017 – Kai Campbell, DB/WR
2019 – Angel Cepero, LB
2017 – Anthony Cepero, OL/LB
2018 – Tyreek Akin-Cole, RB
2018 – Jaelin Creighton, OL/LB
2017 – Josue Delgado, WR
2018 – Kennedy Edmon, WR
2018 – Vandermier Faulkner, DL
2017 – Gianmarco Garofalo, PK
2018 – Akua Grey, OL/DL
2020 – Henry Grey, DB
2018 – Lamont Harrison, OL
2018 – Moueiwa Jean, DB
2018 – Jaykus Johnson, RB
2018 – Jaden Jones, DE
2017 – Giovani Medy, DB
2017 – Keshawn Pouncy, DB
2017 – Alton Richards, S/WR
2017 – Michael Rodriguez, OL/DE
2018 – Deandre Romero, LB
2019 – Jalen Tanelus, RB/LB

2018 – Armani Adelson, LB
2017 – Giovanni Applyrs, OL
2017 – Jordan Barrett, LB
2018 – Tyrik Bellamy, Slot
2018 – Kedrick Camper, S
2020 – Mark Anthony Clark, WR
2017 – Aliante Haskins, CB
2017 – Rashaad Hayes, CB
2018 – Jaden Hicks, FS
2018 – Duane Johnson, WR
2019 – Lance Johnson, LB
2017 – Chase Knight, S
2018 – Johnny Mikel, OLB
2017 – Dylan Rodney, DE
2017 – Rodsky Selon, QB
2017 – Tylen Small, S
2018 – Fabian Smith, OL
2018 – Jamari Sweet, WR
2018 – Jaquan Thompson, CB
2017 – Brendan Toney, CB
2019 – Kyle Walters, RB
2017 – Jerome Watson, CB

How important was last Saturday night’s district football game for first-year head coach Benedict Hyppolite and his Hallandale Chargers?

With favorites American Heritage and Cardinal Gibbons still ahead, it was a must win.

With numerous penalties and turnovers dictating the game with the Miami Jackson Generals, the Chargers hung tough and came up with the big plays when needed and came away with a 40-36 win, scoring in the final minute of the game.

“These young men never gave up – and if this program is going to continue to progress this season and into the future – those are the things we need to do,” said Hyppolite. “Our season will be dictated over the next month.”

While Jackson is technically not eliminated, they have to win every week. This is a team that is loaded with talent under first-year head coach Lakatriona Brunson, but too many mistakes and turnovers doomed this team on Saturday night – which was a makeup for Friday’s game that was postponed by lightning.

2020 – Thaiu Jones-Bell, WR
2019 – Lens Bernadel, OL
2019 – Jarvis Brownlee, DB
2017 – Brent Butler, Jr., DL
2020 – Tywan Cash, RB
2020 – Devin Hanna, DB
2018 – Julian Holmes, WR
2020 – Randy Ingram, OL
2019 – Amani Johnson, WR
2019 – Deajawan Johnson, WR
2017 – LaDarrean Kendricks, OL
2018 – Treyonn Lane, WR
2019 – Khembrel Leon, DL/LB
2018 – Legend Moore, QB/DB
2018 – Michael Nesmith, DB
2018 – Noah Pierre, DB
2019 – Malcolm Ray, DL
2018 – Nicholas Reed, LB
2017 – Devin Sanders, RB
2020 – Deimon Santos, DB
2017 – Davion Smith, DL
2017 – Jairo Thomas, DE
2017 – Shemar Thornton, WR

2018 – Thomas Benjamin, S
2020 – Raheem Berry, DL
2018 – Devontae Broussard, TE/S
2017 – Keiron Broussard, RB
2017 – Lacedrick Brunson, LB
2018 – Jacob Cato, OL
2018 – Terrance Craig, QB
2018 – Gabriel Dunn, WR
2017 – Seven Fleurimond, WR
2017 – Renaldo Flowers, DL
2017 – Israel Jackson, LB
2019 – Javas Jackson, LB/S
2018 – Jaryse Johnson, WR
2019 – Caliyah Kancey, DL
2018 – Anthony Lloyd, S
2018 – Antwan Lloyd, S
2017 – Robert Lloyd, OL
2017 – Eric Mateo, DL
2018 – Tyrone McKnight, WR
2018 – Devontae McCrae, OL/DL
2017 – Donte Morris, OL/DL
2017 – Nakia Robinson, RB/CB
2017 – Gregory Smith, OL/DL
2019 – Terrell Thomas, RB
2018 – Devon Washington, WR

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