Stars Emerge At Kornblue Kicking And Snapping Challenge

larry block6 Stars Emerge At Kornblue Kicking And Snapping ChallengeSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

When it comes to special teams – whether it’s as a kicker, punter or long snapper, the margin for error is small, to say that least.

Millions upon millions of dollars are up for grabs every year – and it often comes down to a punt, an extra point or a field goal – or even a snap or kickoff – that determines the outcome of the game.

For Coral Gables senior Sebastian Riella, the understanding of what a kicker and punter does and how they are often the person who has a say of winning losing, came years ago.

Before he was a Cavalier, Riella was a South Miami Cobra who had just started to show his ability to kick, kick-off and punt.

Today, he is a talented performer who is one of the best in South Florida and the state, proving it at last Saturday’s Kornblue Summer Kicking & Snapping Challenge at Cardinal Gibbons High in Fort Lauderdale.

This national event is a true “must attend” to enhance the national rating of each performer – and with Riella, who does it all for the Cavaliers, the opportunity to go against some of the nation’s elite, was a great opportunity. His hard work has started to pay off as he was easily one of the top five overall performers on the day, winning the punting challenge over a very impressive field in the Class of 2018.

“Coming here and getting a chance to showcase my skills against some top rated kickers and punters is all you can ask for,” he said. “I know how hard I work and know what I can do – and am thankful to be getting the attention.”

Once again this year’s event brought some of the elite to South Florida – and by the end of the day – there were some elite performers.

“When it comes to competition, you see some outstanding athletes doing amazing things,” Kornblue explained. “This is always a place where the athletes come and compete hard. It was great to see once again on a hot day that they all did very well.”

Other winners in the punting competition included: Dalton Ray (Lake Minneola) in the college division. In addition to Riella in 2018, Joshua Thomas (Woodbridge Hylton, Virginia) and William Przystup (Oviedo).

The Class of 2019 was won by IMG Academy’s Aidan Swanson. With Daton Montiel (Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons) and Derek McCormick of Port Charlotte finishing third.

Class of 2020 winner was Chris Cone (Auburndale). Blake Reid (Miami Gulliver was second and Zach Fowell (Naples Golden Gate) finished third.

Hunter Rimes from Fort Myers was first in the Class of 2021 and Carson Wilt (West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman) was second.

The youth division was won by Miami Gulliver’s Will Bettridge with Jackson Fain from West Melbourne coming in second.

KICKERS ALSO TAKE CENTER STAGE

The kicking competition also had some major battles, but in the end, some of the elite stepped to the head of the group.

Ray won the college division. In the Class of 2018, Chaminade-Madonna’s Danny Longman finished second with Jarrett Mills (Okeechobee) and William Przystup (Oviedo) came in third.

West Broward’s Tyler Waxman took first in the 2019 Class. Justin Duenkel (Great Falls Flint, Virginia) was second – and Derek McCormick of Port Charlotte and Gage Ingram (Okeechobee) tied for third.

The 2020 competition came down to Mason Campbell (Naples Barron Collier), Brett Thoma (Bradenton Braden River), Chris Cone (Auburndale), Samuel Garner (Winter Haven) and Blake Reid (Miami Gulliver).

Hunter Rimes (Fort Myers) and Carson Wilt (West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman) won in 2021

The youth division was won by Miami Gulliver’s Will Bettridge with Jackson Fain from West Melbourne coming in second.

The challenge also spotlighted local special teams’ performers:

2018 – Donny Dinerman, P, Miami Gulliver Prep

2018 – Christian Hoyos, P/K, Miami Gulliver Prep

2018 – Christian Ramirez, K/P, Doral Academy

2019 – Kyle Stevens, K/P, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian

A GREAT ROSTER OF TALENT

In addition to many of the local special teams’ players we spoke about, there were other kickers and punters from all over Florida – and beyond. Here is a look at some of those in attendance:

2019 – Connor Beeken, K/P/LS, Kissimmee Poinciana

2018 – Justin Bellows, K/P, Palm Bay

2019 – Ethan Bennett, K/P, North Fort Myers

2018 – Stephen Berquist, K/P, Fort Myers SFCA

2019 – Ryan Bloch, K, Naples Barron Collier

2018 – Bruce Bollini, K/P, Imlay City Metamora, Michigan

2018 – Andrew Brickweg, K/P, Winter Garden West Orange

2019 – Braden Dick, K/P, Vero Beach

2019 – Anthony Einhorn, K, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney

2018 – Chris Heidt, P, Fort Myers

2019 – Jace Hohenthaner, K/P, Lakeland

2018 – Brady Lawrence, K/P, Lithia Newsome

2019 – Max Morningstar, K, Clermont East Ridge

2018 – Austin Moultin, Venice

2019 – Royal Oak University of Detroit Jesuit, Michigan

2018 – Noah Nwousu, K/P, Derwood Bullis, Maryland

2018 – David O’Neal, K/P, Tampa Gaither

2018 – Camden Price, K/P, Severn Archbishop Spaulding, Maryland

2018 – Dylan Rogers, K/P, Dover Strawberry Crest

2019 – Matthew Romero, K, Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy

2018 – Alec Shroeder, K/P, Sugarland George Ranch, Texas

2018 – Derek Simonds, P, DeLand

SNAPPING ALSO GRABS THE SPOTLIGHT

Ever since the success of long snappers in the NFL, there has been plenty of emphasis put on the development of athletes who are getting college scholarship assistance by just learning the craft.

With locals such as Class of 2018 performer Zac Castano (Christopher Columbus), 2019 standout Frank Meljarego from Plantation American Heritage and Class of 2020 snapper Riley Ouellette leading the way, this solid group came from all over.

Meljarego, who was a youth All-American, has gone to three (Miami Coral Reef, Mater Academy and Plantation American Heritage) schools – but after spending the past four months with the defending 5A state champion Patriots, he is sold on the work ethic and the challenges – in and out of the classroom.

“I am so happy to be at American Heritage,” Meljarego said. “The work in the classroom and the competition on the football field have really made me a better all-around person.”

Meljarego won the Class of 2019 snapping challenge.

Other winners included: Bryce Colee (College, Tampa Freedom), Class of 2018 winner was Justin Holloway (Venice), Class of 2020 winner was Alexander Peitsch (Ellicott City, Maryland) and Class of 2021 first place went to Fort Lauderdale High-bound Xavier Angulo.

The competition once again that was on hand makes you understand how some of these big time schools take advantage of these special teams performers and win titles with them.

Quality talent that included:

2018 – Luke Abdalla, Lake Wales

2021 – Xavier Angulo, Fort Lauderdale

2018 – Braxton Baker, Fort Myers SFCA

2021 – Jack Cerwinsky, Fort Myers

2018 – Andrew Clancy, Winter Garden West Orange

2019 – Mark Fuchs, Fort Myers Evangelical Christian

2018 – Nicholas Gleaton, Zephyrhills

2019 – Eric Johnson, Green Cove Springs Clay

2020 – Richard Landes, Delray Beach Atlantic

2018 – Mikel Miret, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

2019 – Mason Napper, Marietta Lassiter, Georgia

2018 – John Novack, Lake Worth Park Vista

2019 – Seth Roberson, Oviedo

2018 – Kristian Robles, Lake Minneola

2018 – David Underwood, Lake Mary

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!

PHOTO COURTESY OF KORNBLUE KICKING

south florida high school sports Stars Emerge At Kornblue Kicking And Snapping Challenge

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