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South Florida H.S. Sports

Winter Showcase Brings Out Some Elite Talent

Author: Larry Blustein

Every year, when the holidays approach, Sly Johnson, Guerby Mertil and Premier Athletes host a fun event for high school and college players to compete.

As the holiday season is in full swing, high school underclassmen as well as seniors and college players home for vacation clash in a Winter Showcase.

Held this year at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood, dozens used their Christmas Eve to sharpen skills against some quality football talent.

With the bowl season going on, a number of locals are still busy with the season, but the college athletes who came to the showcase impressed and helped some of the younger athletes on hand.

Tyler Monaco, a former Cardinal Gibbons and Western, is now at Lehigh. The gifted quarterback has been rehabbing this season, and with a strong performance in the showcase, he is ready to compete again this coming season.

“We have a senior quarterback who is very good, but I feel I can make a run at the position this coming year,” he said. “School is a challenge, but something that I had looked forward to. When I get my chance to play, I will be ready.”

As college prospects were the main focus – those still in high school watched and took in everything they did.

“These high school players know that all the college players who come back have worked very hard to get where they are today,” Sly Johnson explained. “We work with all these young men through the course of the winter, spring and into the summer – getting them ready to compete, so they know what it takes to get from the level they are at now – and where many of these college players are.”

HIGH SCHOOL FUTURE STARS

Some of the prospects on hand include All-County athlete Xavier Restrepo. The versatile slot/safety, who transferred from Monarch to St. Thomas Aquinas looked very good. So did fellow 2020 receiving standout Ethan Corbijn (Archbishop McCarthy) – as did as Guerby Mertil, Jr., (St. Thomas Aquinas, 2019),  Jermaine Hart (South Broward, 2019), Jermaine Hart (South Broward, 2019), Kenny Payton (Coconut Creek, 2020), Logan Giordano (Chaminade Madonna), Elijah Black (Dillard, 2020), Seth Roll (South Broward) and Elijah Davis (Palmetto).

Quarterbacks who impressed included 2018 quarterbacks Santiago Venegas (Miami Belen Jesuit), Alec Carr (Norland) and Mike Baiter (Miami Westminster Christian), and St. Thomas Aquinas 2019 standout Curt Casteel, South Broward’s 2019 standout T.J. Smith, Cooper City 2020 rising star Jack Smitherman and University School impressive freshman Nick Vattiato.

“The talent level at these showcases are always amazing,” Johnson explained. “They all come out to get that advantage and jump into the spotlight.”

In addition, versatile 2018 athletes Avery Thronton (Boyd Anderson) and Jamar Johnson (Sarasota Riverview) came out to take part as well. So are versatile 2019 standouts Allen Crawford, who is a quality running back, and Floyd Cooper – both from South Broward.

Defensive backs also took center stage at the Showcase – Rayne Tanega-Doster (Mater Academy, 2019) and Derrick Bradley (Palmetto, 2018) were solid.

College athletes who attended include Palmetto (Bradenton area) quarterback Thad Johnson (Thomas More College), former Dade Christian, Chaminade-Madonna and American Heritage linebacker Brandon Mincey and defensive back Desime Ross (Texas A&T Prep School).

“The college kids also make this a very fun event for everyone,” Johnson said. “Guerby and I very much look forward to the showcase – to see our younger players go up against the college guys.”

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each week 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!

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