As strange as it may sound, Pat Surtain’s only loss as a head football coach could have been the reason he finished an unbeaten year as 5A state champs.
Before you drive yourself crazy, trying to come up with a valid answer to how the former Miami Dolphins defensive back standout could finish a perfect 14-0, but have a setback, we will explain.
In the state of Florida – when you play a kickoff (pre-season) classic – the record does not count against your season schedule.
A convincing loss to Miami’s Booker T. Washington in the pre-season was indeed a setback that Surtain, a rookie head coach, would use as motivation the rest of the season.
During the year, the Patriots beat Cardinal Gibbons twice, New Jersey power Don Bosco, Miami Northwestern and several other quality teams on the way a third 5A state title in four years.
As Surtain and his staff left the field in Orlando last December, the focus on 2017 was crystal clear. Even though there were some studs coming back, there were difference makers on both sides of the ball, who would not return.
As this program heads toward the summer, the focus now will be on getting back to the state title game, and like last year, the path will be challenging.
NO SHORTAGE OF TALENT
With several holes to fill from this past season’s success, the Patriots start on defense, where the secondary is once again going to be among the best around.
If it’s not nationally-rated standouts Patrick Surtain II (2018) and Tyson Campbell (2018) getting it done, the defensive backfield will have some other big time prospects that will make a huge impact.
Football players that include Western transfer Robert Ruebel (2018), Ruben Hyppolte II (2019), Flanagan transfer Dyllon Lester (2018), Stanley Eugene (2018), Reece Malvasio (2019) and Tyler March (2019)
The line starts with University of Miami commit Nesta Silvera (2018) and nationally-rated defensive end star Andrew Chatfield (2018), but also includes defensive end John Alyn (2018) and several others who are working hard.
Linebackers are going to be talented as well – and finding playmakers has been the objective. Among those stepping up include heavily-recruited standout Calvin Hart, Jr., converted running back Abraham Alce (2018), Andy Garcia (2020), Matt Miller (2018) and Reese Chase (2019).
OFFENSE WILL BE TALENTED
A number of outstanding linemen have moved on to the next level – and while several have come in – there are those waiting to see how everyone up front gels together.
Among those battling in the trenches include returner Zackary Zambrano (2018), Flanagan transfer Troy Ingle (2018), Douglas transfer Jack Fris (2018), Western transfer Jacob Kaplan (2018), Mater Academy transfer Frank Melgarejo (long snapper, 2019), Gabriel Khandehrish (2019) and Paul Yermish (2019).
The quarterback position will be in great hands as well – with Delray American Heritage transfer Cam Davis (2018) and youngster Edwin Rhodes (2020).
The place that this offense looks to thrive will be a running game that features Jordan Johnson (2018) and Tyler Jones (2019) as well as a few youngsters looking to jump into the mix.
While many look at Class of 2018 standout Miles Jones as a player who can run the ball from scrimmage and do just about anything it takes to help his team win games, he is classified as a slot receiver, and a very talented one, but he is not alone.
Nationally-rated sprinter Anthony Schwartz comes back as well to help this receiving corps. Ladarius Burrows (2018), Joshua Alexander (2018), Douglas Emilien (2020), Jon Michael Serna (2019) and Anthony Brown II (2018) will also give this unit plenty of depth.
Even Class of 2018 tight ends Robzel Sylvester, Robert Cohen, Logan Tello, and emerging 2019 standout Beau Jounson have a chance to be special.
The Patriots will also have one of the state’s elite up-and-coming kickers in junior Jimmy Lowery.
So, with a district that includes Stranahan, Coconut Creek, Miami Jackson, Hallandale and a much improved Cardinal Gibbons squad, the assignment will be tough. Add in a road to Orlando that will have some quality programs, and national power Jacksonville Trinity waiting up north, notching No. 4 in five years will be something special!