If you are a Miami Carol City Chiefs’ fan, you already know what the past year has been like.
This rollercoaster year began with the football team advancing to a state final for the first time in over a decade, and the fan and alumni support showed the fan base this school has been able to build over the past 60 plus years.
But right after the state championship win over (Lakeland) Lake Gibson in December, things started to have that look of uncertainty.
Popular Defensive Coordinator Damon Cogdell took a position at the University of South Florida. Then, head coach Aubrey Hill, who is a CC Chief through and through, took a position with FIU. He had been looking for a job in college again.
So, here this program was. Rich in tradition, loaded with returning starters and a state title to defend. The only problem was there was not a head coach in place.
While there was a search on for a new head coach, many felt that the key players who had made this program what it is, would leave.
You know that when you grow up in Northern Miami-Dade, there are too many people looking to get you to their school – and not that many didn’t try – the athletes stood tall and loyal, waiting for that new leader to be put in place.
That new leader, Benedict Hyppolite, was announced and things moved into high gear.
A student of the game, Hyppolite grew up watching and learning, and then playing coaching for the legend, Tim “Ice” Harris. That, with a year as head coach at Hallandale, got him ready for this challenge – and to be clear – it is one of the top 5 jobs in South Florida.
What Hyppolite has been able to do is apply the things that his many mentors in this game have been able to show him.
But Carol City fans have come to expect that this program will be in the mix every year. While the talent is still in place and anything can happen, they still have an uphill climb with rebuilt programs such as Northwestern, Central and longtime rival, Norland.
On the field, there are some big time playmakers for the Chiefs.
On offense, you have the “Big 3” in the offensive backfield. Arguably, one of the best in the country with University of Miami-bound Class of 2018 running back Camron Davis, Class of 2019 nationally-rated running back Nayquan Wright and Class of 2018 quarterback Marlon Smith, who led the Chiefs to their 2017 title.
Also, receivers Phenol Williams (2018) and Johaun Beresford (2018), offensive lineman Jawuan Wilson, who starred at Champagnat Catholic. One of the biggest additions this team received is Legend Moore. One of the best athletes in South Florida, Moore played quarterback at Hallandale last year after coming in from American (Hialeah) the year before. Moore can play five positions, which will be huge for this program.
Also, offensively, there are linemen Montrell Newton, Jr., (2018), running back Elishah Barnwell (2019, RB),
Leading the way on this tremendous defense are: University of Miami commit Randy Russell (2018, S), big time outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah (2018), cornerback Irshaad Davis (2018), Cornerback/kicker Mark Carter, Jr. (2018), defensive lineman Juwan James (2018), free safety Daequan Nelson (2018), playmaker Kewan Parker (2018, S), who has gotten interest from plenty of schools, and Greg Grate, Jr., a very gifted athlete.
Also, keep an eye on these emerging defense prospects: Rollansky Darote (2018, LB), nose tackle Johnny Wilson (2018), Shoney Washington (2018, CB), Robert Garcia (2018, LB), Jamal Poitier, 2019, LB), defensive end Aaron Morgan (2018), a Hallandale transfer, Class of 2019 linebacker Micha’el Wilmot and tackle Malcolm Ray.
There is also talented Marcel Williams (2020), who not only can play cornerback, but is also a very quarterback on offense, and 2018 DE Jawon Johnkins.
Can the Chiefs repeat? They have to win those key district games, and every week will be a battle.
NEXT WEEK: In his first year as a head coach, former Dolphins defensive back standout Pat Surtain led his American Heritage Patriots to an unbeaten season and a 5A title. Do the Patriots have enough to make it two straight and four of the past five years? The road will be very tough!