As Teddy Bridgewater made his way around the football field at North Miami Stadium last Saturday, the one- time Miami Northwestern standout shook hands, talked with some old friends and reached out to the athletes on hand for this annual event.
While working his way back from a devastating injury that kept him from playing for the Minnesota Vikings last season, Bridgewater spoke with athletes who are traveling down the same path he did – not so long ago.
While he turned heads in high school, at Louisville and now with the Vikings – before his injury – Bridgewater worked hard and wanted the football players who took part in the Sleefs/Tournament of Champions 7-on-7 showcase, to know that nothing is ever going to be easy.
“I want these young men out here to understand that every level you climb is going to be tougher and you have to worker harder,” Bridgewater said. “When I was younger, I never knew what was ahead, so having someone come back and share the experiences has to be helpful in the process.”
Having the opportunity to watch his former Northwestern team, Bridgewater was tough on the players, especially rising senior quarterback Tutu Atwell.
Considered to be one of the best high school quarterbacks in the state of Florida – without hesitation – Atwell has been extremely impressive, and Bridgewater has had the chance to work with him. But if you think that Bridgewater is going to heap praise on the quarterback, you are mistaken.
“He’s accomplished nothing yet and I told him that,” Bridgewater said of Atwell. “But he is special and has a great future ahead of him, but I won’t tell him that.”
As far as his injury, Bridgewater has surprised everyone. His work ethic and will to get back on the football field has been something that everyone has noticed.
While some predicted early on that his career may be over, they didn’t know a young man who has overcome plenty, including being there for his mother during cancer treatments, to get where he is. Nobody will give more to ensure success than he will.
“I take things one day at a time – and will not look too far into the future,” he said. “I will work harder than anyone you have ever seen to get back to where I was.”
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
For 23 years, Wesley Frater has hosted football and basketball events that showcased the great talent that South Florida has to offer. Last weekend turned out to be one of the most competitive yet.
With a field that included champion Miami Booker T. Washington, Davie Western, Miami Northwestern, Hialeah, Mourning, Coconut Creek, Hialeah Champagnat, Miami Edison and Monsignor Pace, elite football talent was everywhere.
“We host this every year to make we expose our South Florida athletes,” founder and organizer Wesley Frater explained. “From our football to the tremendous basketball events we have hosted for many years, there have been so many tremendous prospects who have gone on to the next level – and beyond.”
Frater’s hard work and caring for the youth of Miami-Dade and Broward continues to show in what he brings to the table. Having Bridgewater come back to one of his events is nothing new. Former high school athletes are always returning to be that role model for the kids.
“Having Teddy or Duke Johnson or any of the young men and women who made their way out of South Florida, is what we are all about down here,” Frater pointed. “Also, having a great sponsor like Sleefs has also helped us to do some great things.”
As basketball event was going strong at Everglades High in Miramar, the football heated up all afternoon.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON WINS
The one thing that you can never say about veteran head coach Tim “Ice” Harris is that he doesn’t take everything serious.
Last Saturday, Harris and his football team won a very impressive event. The Tornadoes, which missed out on returning to Orlando for the fifth straight time, has used this offseason to get things back in focus – and they have.
With a spring that showcased several key football prospects, including soon-to-be four-year varsity starting linebacker Jaquan Beaver – and Class of 2019 record-setting quarterback Daniel Richardson.
Northwestern and Western also showcase what they will be all about this year.
There were some very talented football prospects who came to North Miami. Here are a few of them:
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
In addition to Beaver and Richardson, the Tornadoes will have big time offensive threats such as running back Johnny Ford, receivers Tyquan Thornton, Zahir Turner and some big time playmakers.
There is little doubt that this is not the team that heads back to Orlando in 2A. They are loaded with big time returnees such as Jesus Machado, UM commit Gregory Rousseau, Donovan Georges and Tyrik Robinson on defense – and standouts such as quarterback Desjaun Kearse and Mark Britt on offense.
Coach Gerald Cox has some key athletes who are looking to bring this program back to the top. On offense, there’s Zack Fifelski, Tim Scippio and Terry Michel. Defensively, there is Tiawan Mullen, Rich Hall, Kerondo Gobern and Teddy McCall.
First year head coach Travis Johnson starts out with quarterback Cory Del Prado who comes in from Florida Christian. There are numerous young athletes on the team as well.
First year head coach Pierre Senatus will look to build quickly with JuZion Wade and Jovon Smith, as well as defensive prospects Jason Lubin and Rudy Perez to name a few.
It has been a tough two years for head coach Ahmad Ward, but some very important offseason moves have given the Broncos something to compete hard for in a very talented district.
Veteran head coach Joe Zaccheo has gotten this program where many young athletes are stepping up. Prospects such as Antoine Daniel, Cesar Medina, Lorenzo Floyd, Willie Floyd and Jemel Horenstein to name a few.
You have to hand it to head coach Trevor Harris. Every year, he faced with new prospects to develop – and he does it no questions asked. Young, young team the Sharks head into the summer with. Players such as Wendy Celestin, Samuel Hernandez, Ruben Dorvil and Pacsual Guerrier will be athletes to keep an eye on.
We all know the Bulls have a big time quarterback in Atwell, but head coach Max Edward also stacked on defense – where they have as good a secondary as you will find. Divaad Wilson, Nigel Bethel, Jr., Rachad Wildgoose, Sharod Oliver and the Bulls’ defense will be stingy. There is also size and plenty of athleticism on offense as well.
Last year this program made believers of everyone, advancing to the playoffs. This season, the bar has been raised and head coach Adam Ratkevich and his Wildcats has proven that they are more than ready for the challenge. The offense will be tough to stop with Harrison Story, Keshaun Clark, Jordan Smith and Danny Sanders – and Teshaun Smith, Jordan Chambers, Frank Heran and Matthew Loy on defense.
On a side note: everyone wanted to send their wishes and prayers to Hialeah Champagnat safety Nathaniel Webster who broke his leg and had to have surgery last Saturday. According to Webster, he will work hard to get back before the end of his senior season. Nobody doubts him!
Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!