By Larry Blustein

larry block6 PLAYOFF SPOTLIGHT: Christopher Columbus Rolls Into The Third Round

Earlier this year, Miami Christopher Columbus head football coach Chris Merritt put up a photo on his Facebook account that was amusing.

As fans watched an Explorer home game, a plane flew over with the words FIRE MERRITT. It could never have been a true Columbus fan. Not one that has a clue.

What people do not understand about Merritt is, he is easily one of the best coaches we have – and have had over the years.

He teaches, develops, coaches and has been the face of this school and program for decades. He is what any parent would want their child around – on and off the playing field. He is a role model who has always leads by example.

Merritt is involved in everything football – including his national role with USA Football, where he has been instrumental in promoting many local players and helping so many local coaches.

What makes Merritt special as a football coach is his knack of letting his assistants do their thing – and last Thursday night they did their thing to the tune of a 28-14 second round victory against South Dade.

As the Explorers get set for a 1 p.m. region semifinal (third round) matchup with Miami High at Tropical Park, it is a rematch that both programs have been waiting for – and one that will be as exciting as the first game as the Explorers won, 21-20.

But no matter what happens on Friday afternoon, what Merritt has done for high school football in South Florida has gone unnoticed. This native Hoosier and Indiana University product continues to set standards and builds his programs with class.

When you watch this team play, the discipline and execution have started to separate them from the pack. Coaches and players have responded, and while there are some fans who may have other feelings – and they have the right to – what is happening at this program is special, and everyone is starting to take notice.

IMPACT PROSPECTS

There is little doubt that this Columbus team has as many playmakers as anyone – on both sides of the ball.

With a loss to 6A power Miami Northwestern as the only setback, this team has been fueled by quality talent. Athletes who step up and make an impact.

Check these quality difference makers out:

2018 – Anthony Arguellas, QB. Easily one of the reasons this program is in this position. Worked hard to win the job – and has certainly been a huge difference maker as a passer and runner.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3969653/anthony-arguelles

2018 – Zachary Castano, LB. Having watched this quality talent play over the past two years, this is someone who is always around the ball, making huge plays and showcasing his leadership skills.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3930525/zachary-castano

2019 – Luis Cristobal, OL. While having solid football bloodlines always helps, it is never a guarantee that things will follow what has happened in the past. But with Luis, you could see how well prepared he was from the beginning. Having his father and uncle, Mario, paving the way, the instruction and knowledge were always in place – and throughout his junior season – Luis, Jr. has been making things go up front and getting plenty of recognition along the way.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/5415710/luis-cristobal

2019 – Demetries Ford, RB/DB. Here is a talented young man who has made a huge impression this season for the Explorers after coming over from Westminster Christian. A super talented prospect who has always been a very impressive football player. Can play a number of positions on the field.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/5403468/demetries-ford

2018 -Tyler Harrell, WR. Has turned into one of the premier prospects around this season. Catches the ball on just about everyone, giving the Explorers a true threat up field. Has been one of the major reasons this program is performing at such a high level.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/2009010/tyler-harrell

2018 – Shaun McReynods, LB. Watching this talented defensive force play over the past two seasons, here is someone who is always around the ball. This season, this gifted senior has shown plenty of leadership as well. Yet another big time player.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/4027904/shaun-mcreynolds

2018 – Tony Mills, DE. What this season has been all about for this gifted senior has been about making plays and doing his part of getting this team this far. College coaches need to keep this talent in their plans. Good size and a motor that never stops.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/5308075/tony-mills

2019 – Kalani Norris, WR. If you have never watched this tremendous football player do his thing, you are missing out. One of the top Class of 2019 talents in the state of Florida, his ability to make plays has certainly been the difference in so many games this season. Is another of those elite players that came in from Westminster Christian. Solid student/athlete who is always getting better.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/6011785/kalani-norris

2020 – Henry Parrish, Jr., RB. In an area that has more than its share of gifted football prospects, here is an emerging standout who continues to improve and give the Explorers a solid and reliable runner to keep the balance in the offense. This is going to be a player to watch the rest of 2017 – and into the future. Solid back.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/7483266/henry-parrish-jr

2019 – Jeramy Pasmore, DL. Here is yet another of the major athletes this program brought in this season – from Westminster Christian. Has already had two solid high school seasons, and if you watch him now, two year later, his growth and improvement is amazing.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/5403465/jeramy-passmore

2019 – Dylan Perez, DL. One of those gifted and talented prospects that you have to watch to truly appreciate. This is a very impressive player who is physical and skilled. Coaches believe that this is going to be a major force over the next year.

TAPE: https://www.hudl.com/profile/5473591/dylan-perez

CHECKOUT THESE CONTRIBUTORS

2018 – Alvaro Acosta, WR

2018 – Manuel Balladares, OL

2018 – Kevin Colls, OL

2019 – Gary Cooper, TE

2020 – Brett Cortwright, OL

2018 – Robert Crocket III, CB

2018 – Javier Cuenca, LB

2019 – Cameron Daniel, WR

2019 – Carmine Dascoli III, TE

2018 – Clyde Dozier, RB

2019 – Jason Ferguson II, RB

2018 – Henry Fernandez, DE

2019 – Sean Gilbert, OL

2019 – Jordan Griffin, LB

2019 – Sean Grimes, Jr., DE

2020 – Xzavier Henderson, WR

2018 – Cameron Hildago, DE

2020 – Courtney Holmes, S

2018 – Rashard Jenkins II, CB

2019 – Sammy Linder, WR

2018 – Jordan Martinez, CB

2020 – Braden McDuffey, Athlete

2018 – Jonathan Ojeda, LB

2018 – Daniel Perera, OL

2018 – Renzi Renzo, FS

2018 – Diego Ramos, FB

2018 – John Rivera, DT

2019 – Steven Roig, WR

2018 – Braulio Suarez, OL

2018 – Kristopher Trapp, LB

2019 – Victor Uha, DE

Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show this Monday night (8-10) 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!

south florida high school sports PLAYOFF SPOTLIGHT: Christopher Columbus Rolls Into The Third Round

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