Over the past three weeks, you have noticed that South Florida High School Sports has stepped up its coverage during spring football.READ MORE: CBS4 Exclusive: Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Calls Scot Peterson's Press Conference On His Deposition 'Fictional'
It’s only going to get better.
With so much at stake for these athletes – when it comes to attaining scholarships – it has gotten to the point where having the practice and game videos, photos, evaluations and coverage – has put us way ahead of anyone who is attempting anything like the year-round coverage and exposure we provide.
As many of the major colleges have spent the past three-plus weeks in this area, seeing some of the elite talent, our own Larry Blustein and J.T. Wilcox and the entire staff, including the tremendous photographer Chuck Bethel, have been out and bringing you the most comprehensive high school sports coverage anywhere.
Bethel lost his father this past week – and the entire CBS team in South Florida all pray for the family and send our deepest sympathy and condolences.
With so many games, scrimmages and events, Larry and J.T. watched and have found some pretty interesting things about players, coaches and teams. Here are their thoughts on this past week:
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
Blu: Coming off yet another Class 4A state title, the Tornadoes have indeed added several prospects to keep this train rolling. Sophomore Daniel Richardson returns to pick up where he left on offense. And the defense, once again – with several athletes in place – could make the return of Tim “Ice” Harris very successful. This is a program that knows the way to the state title game – and even Cocoa will not have enough to stand in the way of a fifth straight 4A crown.
J.T.: The thing that stands out most about the Tornadoes is their offensive line. Bringing back players like Willa Pierre and Teaki Fuller was already going to make Booker T.’s o-line a formidable unit. Add in 2017 standout and University of Florida commit Kadeem Telfort (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) and now you’re talking about one of the top offensive lines in the state. The F5 isn’t going anywhere.
Blu: Eddie Brown came in last year and won the district before losing to eventual state champion Miami Central in the first round. This spring was all about getting some new faces in the mix, finding out what prospects can help the Cobras realize that dream of getting out of competitive South Florida. The defense will be the key for this team.
J.T.: Having watched the Cobras during the Referee Clinic scrimmages and again during their spring intrasquad game, it was apparent that they have talent. Watching quarterback Shabazz Telfort, you can see that he’s taken a step forward as a passer. Defensively, Boyd Anderson has enough athletes to compete with just about anyone. I want to see growth and development from the Cobras offensive line.
Blu: As all eyes were on talented two-way standout Diego Fagot, this is a program that may have benefitted as much as anyone this spring. With the most famous football player in school history receiving an offer a day, it opened things up for head coach Kirk Hoza and his Eagles to jump on the map. Imagine having Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and others on campus. That was what this spring was all about.
J.T.: Everybody else is starting to see what Larry has seen out of Diego Fagot for almost a year now. Fagot is a football player’s football player – no doubt. But my attention goes to running back Massi Gamble. The son of a former professional football player, Gamble has great size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and could end up being one of the hidden gems in South Florida.
Blu: After winning the district a year ago, then losing to Central in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, there has been plenty of optimism this spring for head coach Aubrey Hill and the Chiefs. While the defense, receiving corps and running game can stack up to the best in the state, this is a team will need to get better in the trenches and at quarterback to finish off the job. Still, this is a program that will be challenged in the fall, and will rely on some younger players to finish off what they started in 2015.
J.T.: Carol City has all the pieces to be one of the best teams in the state this coming season. The key will be to put the puzzle together. And the player that will be at the heart of it all is sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Floyd. Still, I came away very impressed with the way the Chiefs’ defense looked during their spring game against an always formidable South Dade team. Bringing in Damon Cogdell was one of the best things to do for this program – now and down the line.
Blu: No matter how you slice it, the four-time defending Class 6A state champions always look in mid-season form. They are loaded everywhere – and from what we were able to find out, it isn’t over yet. Depth at running back, receiver, offensive line and now even quarterback, where there is plenty of talent, will have head coach Roland Smith’s team scoring plenty. Defensively, a few prospects who missed last year with injury, have returned and are helping to shore up a very athletic unit.
J.T.: You have to give Central’s coaching staff a lot of credit for what the program has been able to accomplish over the past half-decade. Watching the Rockets during their intrasquad game, you see the depth across the board that other teams simply don’t have. Central has the big-name players that everyone will be paying attention to – running back James Cook and offensive lineman Navaugh Donaldson – but I say watch out for safety/linebacker Enos Lewis and defensive end Owen Carney. The big thing to watch with the Rockets this summer will be which of their three talented quarterbacks – Tijuane Morten, Seth McGill or Maurice Underwood – takes the reins of the offense and wins the starting job.
Blu: Since taking over the Lions a year ago, head coach Jason Milgrom has been putting together a program that is more than capable of beating region powers Delray American Heritage and Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy. Key transfers have blended together to make this a team that will be challenged in the fall, but as the showed in the spring, they are more than ready. A huge offensive line, cat-quick defensive prospects and young athletes who are more than ready to accept the challenge. Championship football has returned to Hollywood.READ MORE: Miami Beach City Commission Unanimously Approves Dedicating Baseball Field After Surfside Condo Collapse Victim Manny LaFont
J.T.: I love what head coach Jason Milgrom has done with Chaminade’s program – in such a short period of time, too. Having the chance to watch the team work in the weight room, I saw a squad that is going to be physically able to compete with teams in higher classifications despite being a Class 3A program. 2018 OL/DL Davoan Hawkins (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) will be one of the top rated players we have in South Florida by the time he’s a senior and 2018 athlete Shaun Shivers is one of the spark plugs that will drive the Lions.
Blu: Make no mistake, this spring was all about showcasing the stars that this program will feature in 2016. Head coach Lorenzo Davis and the Panthers are loaded up from on defense, have outstanding secondary performers and a group of linebackers who are getting better. Offensively, inexperience will be the key at quarterback, receiver and on the offensive line. Boyd Anderson won the district last year – and now this coming season – the Panthers feel they have the talent to turn that around.
J.T.: Defensively, specifically the front four – Dillard is one of the best in Florida. Jon Ford impressed me with his power playing on the inside this spring and Jordan Wright is soaked with football potential. Both Ford and Wright will get theirs – the player that could be an absolute terror for opposing teams to defend is 6-foot-6 defensive end Stephon Zayas. He’s long and rangy and will always be matched up one-on-one with linemen because teams will be focused on blocking Wright and Ford. He just has to win his matchup. Also, look out for 6-foot-5 safety Michal Mackey. Where does Dillard get all these tall kids from?
Blu: In his first spring in South Florida, first-year head coach Mike Farley really made a lasting impression with the Lightning the past three-plus weeks. Forget the 16-0 win over a West Broward squad that made the playoffs in 2015, what happened in Ives Estates this past month was the transition from veteran head coach David Hudson to a coach who comes in with plenty of experience. Players, administration, assistant coaches and parents are thrilled that this is a team that has a legitimate chance to win the district in the fall. Outstanding athletes all over the field.
J.T.: As Larry and I watched Krop take down West Broward during its spring game, we thought back on some of the talented players that have come through Krop. Saying that, to say this: the Lightning will always have a nice crop of kids to work with. Keeping them in the building is the task. It’ll be interesting to see where coach Mike Farley takes the program from here. But with players like quarterback Matt Bethel, who’s built more like a linebacker at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, and athlete Randall St. Felix – Krop should be in the hunt for a district title in 2016.
Blu: Having the opportunity to watch Coach Richard Dunbar’s Flying L’s several times during the spring, you can see how much offseason progress has already been made. College coaches found their way to this historic facility throughout late April and into May, watching top-flight prospects on both sides of the ball. While being in the same district as St. Thomas may be tough, this team has used it to its fullest advantage. Much improved team.
J.T.: Fort Lauderdale is a team that has been trending upwards under head coach Richard Dunbar. He’s a Lauderdale alum and his combination of energy and pride is powering the program from the top on down. It looks like athlete Alonzo Clark has settled into the role of being a skill player as freshman John Dunmore has come in and taken on the quarterback duties. The summer will be a vital time for the Flying L’s – as attending as many 7-on-7 tournaments would build chemistry and give confidence to their young signal caller.
Blu: While the spring is usually about watching the prospects, this May started out to be one that focused more on the coaches on the field rather than the core of players coming back for the Generals. Florida’s first female head coach, Lakatriona Brunson and Defensive Coordinator/Entertainer Luther Campbell may have taken away the spotlight, but things changed as the players began to show that they can compete. This is a program looking for a strong summer to stay in the playoff mix.
J.T.: While most people will talk about Jackson for its female head coach – Lakatriona Brunson – and its defensive coordinator “Uncle Luke” Luther Campbell; folks would be better suited realizing that the Generals have some very good football players. Watching the team during its spring intrasquad game, it was hard not to be impressed with running back Keiron Broussard. He’s a well-built, physical runner that will deliver a hit just as much as take one. Also, Jackson’s “secret weapon” defensive end Eric Mateo is one to watch. He didn’t play in 2015, but the 6-foot-4 pass rusher could end up being among Dade County’s sack leaders in 2016.
Blu: There is no head coach in South Florida – at least this offseason – who has exposed his team to more events and more competition than second-year head coach Pierre Senatus. The key during May was to establish an offense, which they did, and keep that “Dark Side” tradition alive, which was accomplished as well. In a district that has always been competitive, look for this team to be in the mix for a playoff spot – after a year away.
J.T.: Going into the spring I was looking for Miramar to show that it could produce points. Having watched Pierre Senatus’ squad play against a very good defensive team in Dillard during the spring, I saw a Patriots offense that – while far from being a finished product – could put points on the board simply because of the athletes they possess. Also like the size I saw on Miramar’s offensive line – Deondre Chambers, Habujimah Derival and Sebastian Dolcine, who battled with Dillard’s Jordan Wright for much of the night.
Blu: When you lose some of the best offensive linemen around, watch one of the top running backs graduate and see a defensive unit need to be rebuilt, you can see what veteran head coach Nathaniel Hudson has had to deal with this spring. The Bucs will get no sympathy from district rivals, so this spring and the summer ahead will be vital in the growth of a team that still has the athletes, but nowhere the experience that has propelled them into the spotlight the past three years.
J.T.: You can see that graduation has hit the Buccaneers hard. That happens. But when you have a coach like Nate Hudson, the bottom is never going to fall out. Offensively, this team is young. They struggled to do many positive things against Carol City during the spring game. Coach Hudson will be relying heavily on offensive lineman Kyron Taylor and linebacker Chei Hill to provide leadership to respective units.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Blu: A trip to watch the two-time defending Class 7A state champions is a visit to see the best football program in the country. While they will have the opportunity to prove how good they are this coming season – with a trip to play national power Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, head coach Roger Harriott and the Raiders are stacked and deep at every position. The offense is capable of scoring 40-plus every game and the defense will shut you down – no matter how potent you may be. Special teams are sound, and young prospects are just waiting for their opportunity. This is a big-time program that continues to set standards on the football field.
J.T.: St. Thomas Aquinas was by far the most complete team that we saw this spring. The depth that they have is mind-boggling. Watching the team practice on a day which saw national recruit Trevon Grimes only do light work, I saw at least three other receivers that would be the No. 1 pass catcher in almost any other program – including receiver Jordan Merrell, who came over from Dillard. Whatever an opposing team tries to take away – the pass or the run – Aquinas has a group of top level prospects to deploy. It’s scary how good this team is now and how good they are set up to be down the line.
Blu: After last season’s record-setting run to the playoffs, the Bobcats have spent this spring under new head coach Monte Dillworth, putting the right combination together. A spring setback against Dr. Krop only gave this team a better read on what needs to happen over the next four months. Dillworth and his staff have some talent in place, and now understand that the road to making the playoffs once again, will be competitive.MORE NEWS: Parkland Parent Max Schachter Donates $25,000 To Marjory Stoneman Douglas Orchestra To ‘Keep Alex's Memory Alive’
J.T.: Watching this team take on Krop during the spring, I saw something in new head coach Monte Dillworth that I always want to see out of any coach: a strong desire to be better. Still, you can see the Bobcats have holes to fill and that players are still in the process of buying into what Dillworth wants. What happened this spring will only give West Broward and Dillworth fuel as they head into the summer offseason.