Whether it’s the Florida Fire, Strong Arm, Hard Knocks, Nghtmr or the South Florida Express, success has come down to what high school/youth coaches you have on your off season travel program.
Associations with schools and youth programs have long been the way that many programs were kicked off – and have been able to maintain a stable and winning team.
While the South Florida Express (SFE) began by using athletes from all over Miami-Dade and Broward, it was only in the past five years when high school coaches really started to get involved.
“If you are coaching for a 7-on-7 teams and happen to be a coach at a local high school, sure you want to have your kids with you,” said Florida Fire founder Dennis Marroquin explained. “Every team has quality high school assistant coaches and coordinators who benefit from having their kids around them.”
Brett Goetz, founder of SFE, has long used local coaches to help fill rosters out. This year was no exception as several quality coaches have been added to a group that has been in place for many years.
Among the coaches that the Express feature include Dominic Johnson (Southridge), Henry Columbi, David Blackwell and Garrett Lederman (Delray American Heritage), Cory Smith (Doral Academy), Jaquan Nunally (Norland), Blue Tanis (Plantation American Heritage), Jerry Scalzo (Cardinal Gibbons), Odell Jolly (Southridge) and Dorrean James (Booker T. Washington). The Express also feature former NFL standouts Samari Rolle, a Miami Beach and FSU product, and Arturo Freeman – as well as Kenyon Fussell, who has coordinated the teams.
For Derrick Lester’s Hard Knocks squad, Desmond Hollin (Miami High), Naquan Phillips (Homestead), Carlton Callendar (Southridge) and Lester (South Dade) have been able to attract a number of prospects. Players who have helped this team win plenty.
Team Nghtmr boast some impressive coaches – with Javi Valdes and Jorie Alston (Somerset), Davante Davis and David Bowens (Doral Academy) – as well as Nicholas Norris and Eduardo Clements, Booker T. Washington star players who are still looking for a spot to land this coming season.
Strong Arm has also been a pipeline from high school to 7-on-7 fields – with Coach Flowers (Stranahan), Coach Bennie (Deerfield Beach), Coach Dre Stafford (Carol City), Coach Central McClellion (Delray American Heritage), and youth football connections such as Coach Crummie (Overtown) and Coach Fred (Gwen Cherry).
The Fire has certainly used many of the high school and youth coaches through the years – and this season is certainly no exceptions.
In addition to Marroquin, who recently stepped aside after winning a 2A state title at Hialeah Champagnat Catholic, the Fire boasts David Coleman and Delaine Powell (Piper), Joe Brown (Southridge), Jason Kilpatrick (Cham-agnat Catholic), Mike Sheehan (Edison), Robert Ortega (Western) – as well as Xavier Carter and Dino Johnson.
J.R. Bryant and Tampa Bucs’ standout David Rivers are also lending a helping hand.
Chris McGonigal (Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes), Zak Rehman (Tuff Training) and You Garcia (All Hands) have also made a major impact.
EXPRESS GEARING UP FOR THE NEXT TOURNAMENT
Nobody will offer any excuses in losing to the Florida Fire in overtime at the Pylon event to kick the season off two weeks ago near Orlando, so the South Florida Express was back to work last weekend.
Coach Cory Smith was looking for a spark from some players he has on a very talented roster.
The Express will be back at it – and figure to showcase some more of those elite players.
Among the talent on the rosters include:
Matthew Akuchie, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas
Jordan Battle, DB, St. Thomas Aquinas
Chris Benestad, WR, Cardinal Gibbons
Rayquan Berry, RB/Slot, Coral Gables
Jacorey Brooks, WR, Booker T. Washington
Curt Casteel, QB, St. Thomas Aquinas
Tyrus Clinch, DB, Northwestern
Adrian Cole, DB, Plantation
Jamal Cooney, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas
Tecory Couch, DB, Chaminade-Madonna
Jaden Davis, DB, St. Thomas Aquinas
John Dunmore, WR, Chaminade-Madonna
Doug Emilien, WR, Plantation American Heritage
Marcus Fleming, WR, Northwestern
Andy Garcia, LB, Plantation American Heritage
Baron Grant, WR, Doral Academy
Henry Gray, DB, Plantation American Heritage
Jermaine Hart, WR, South Broward
Aydin Henningham, WR, Deerfield Beach
Connor Hindsley, WR, Delray American Heritage
Jordan Irizarry, WR/CB, NSU University School
Ahmaud Jordan, DB, Chaminade-Madonna
Tyrese Lamour, DB, Hialeah
Benjamin Onwuzo, CB, Chaminade-Madonna
Shemar Paul, RB/Slot, Doral Academy
Wendol Philord, DB, Doral Academy
Ed Rhodes, QB, Plantation American Heritage
Nikolas Ognenovic, TE, Cardinal Gibbons
Christian Opalsky, WR/RB, St. Thomas Aquinas
Grantis Poole, WR/RB, Cardinal Gibbons
Daryl Porter, Jr., DB, Plantation American Heritage
Larry Robbins, Jr., DB, Northwestern
Louis Rolle, DB, Deerfield Beach
Josh Sanguinetti, DB/WR, University School
Tyler Scott, DB, University School
Keontra Smith, DB, Chaminade-Madonna
Deidrick Stanley II, DB, Chaminade-Madonna
Christian Wells, WR, NSU University School
Derek Wingo, Athlete, St. Thomas Aquinas
Jaylin Young, WR, Hallandale
Majon Wright, WR, Cardinal Gibbons
Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each week on WQAM (560AM). For the past 11 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!