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There is no doubt that when it comes to football, the state of Florida has no rival for the passion and talent that has long been recognized nationally.

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But what happened this past weekend, especially here in South Florida, really put fans in a tough situation.

A Thursday and Friday night in October without high school football was something that we are simply not used to – and while we all give thanks that Hurricane Matthew did not hit this area, local school officials had to be cautious – just in case – and the result is that many programs will certainly play one less game.

While some district and very few non-district games were made up on Saturday and Monday, the downtime is something that rarely happens in this slice of heaven.

Having covered high school football for a number of years, this is not the first time that football has been disrupted. Several storms through the years have played a huge role in high school football, perhaps none more pressing that Hurricane Andrew.

When Matthew skirted the coast – and this past week’s games were in the balance – it brought back the 1992 memories of Andrew, and the many stories that played out. In some ways, that storm may have opened the doors, slowly, but never the less, for Broward County to get better and bring its play to the level that Miami-Dade had been at since the 1930s.

When Miami-Dade was devastated by Andrew, many families moved north to Broward and to other areas of Florida – to begin a new life.

As feeder bands came ashore this past Thursday, those memories were stirred. It made you think about “what if”.

One of the best stories about Hurricane Andrew came from South Dade High School where then head coach Don Drinkhahn drove all over making sure his players were okay and survived. In complete darkness, Drinkhahn rode up and down battered streets, fighting downed power lines and debris everywhere. His objective was to make sure his players and their families were okay.

Having the privilege of riding those streets with him, Drinkhahn had his bullhorn out and made sure that every player on his football roster had food, water and a place to sleep. Even while his own home needed repairs and electricity, he made sure that everyone else was taken care of – and that was what made him so special.

Drinkhahn was South Dade High – and he more than proved it during that storm. But he was not the only one who rolled up their sleeves and made an impact, getting the season back on track. Schools not even affected in Broward County, such as Hollywood Hills and head coach Jack Pierson who also made sure that his extended football family was taken care of.

While Pierson and Drinkhahn were separated by 50 miles, the bonds that they had were brought closer together by this tragedy. After all, along with McArthur, Homestead and South Broward, they were all part of the same district – and were like an extended family.

“It makes no difference that we are in different counties and are some 50 miles apart,” Pierson said at the time. “Football is family – and when you have a tragedy like Hurricane Andrew – you come together for your ‘family’”

Football was finally played this past weekend, and as teams competed for district titles, nothing was lost when these teams took a rare Thursday and Friday off. It was part of life as players, coaches and fans reflected on those who may not be playing for a long time, and at the end of the day, that is the lesson we all continue to learn.

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Are the Northwestern Bulls ready to do something they haven’t done in five years – beat rival Miami Central?

The answer to that very important question will come this Friday – and the result of the game could indeed mean everything to the rest of the teams in the district – and throughout the state, where the Rockets have dominated Class 6A for the past seven years.

But before having a chance to virtually knock the Rockets out of the playoffs for the first in a long while, head coach Max Edwards and his football team will have to play four strong quarters – something that cost them from beating Plantation American Heritage, and last Saturday evening – as they slid by a hobbled Booker T. Washington team, 27-21.

“Even when we were up 20-0 at the half, I still was not satisfied with the performance of this team on both sides of the ball,” Edwards pointed out. “We need to turn this thing back up if we are going to continue reaching our goals.”

The Bulls had their way with the Tornadoes much of the first half, but when sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson returned from an injury in the second half, he was a force that the Bulls had a rough time stopping. The Rockets present more of a problem – with several receivers, running backs and a huge offensive line.

2020 – Edward “Macho” Arza, QB
2018 – Jaquan Beaver, LB
2018 – Quayvon Beckford, WR
2017 – Richard Dames, DB
2017 – Rishard Dames, DB
2020 – Jovan Ferguson, Athlete
2017 – Teaki Fuller, OL
2017 – Derek Geter, LB
2018 – Robrts Hicks, DE
2018 – Detron Holloway, DB
2020 – Eddie Jackson, DB
2017 – Sharod Johnson, WR
2018 – Antquan Kinsey, LB
2017 – Brian Livingston, WR
2017 – Dedrick Mackey, DB
2018 – Rodney Mompremier, OL
2017 – Bryson Perry, WR
2017 – Willa Pierre, OL
2019 – Tavares Pittman, LB
2017 – Isaac Readon II, LB
2019 – Daniel Richardson, QB
2019 – Christian Roldan, PK
2017 – Kedeem Telfort, OL
2017 – Guy Thomas, DE
2018 – Tyquan Thornton, WR
2018 – Zahir Turner, WR

2017 – Andre Adams, WR
2019 – Keon Armstrong, DB
2018 – Chatarius Atwell, QB
2017 – Jude Barthelemy, WR
2017 – Nigel Bethel, DB
2019 – Samuel Brooks, DE
2017 – Travon Brooks, LB
2018 – Thomas Burns, CB
2017 – Tyquan Carey, OL
2018 – Tyquan Cooper, OL
2018 – Kiaryn Davis, RB
2017 – Taurus Dotson, Jr., DB
2019 – Zechariah Esdaille, S/FB
2017 – Kelvin Flores, PK
2019 – Mark Fox, OL
2018 – Ben Garland, DB
2017 – Frederick Gonsalvies, DB
2018 – Avery Hall, OL
2017 – Harry Hanna, OL
2017 – Kai Henry, RB
2017 – Schneider Jonassaint, DT
2018 – Billy Joseph, DE
2018 – Aaron Lewis, RB
2018 – Roy Livingston, WR
2018 – Demetrius Mayes, Jr., DT
2018 – Sharod Oliver, DB
2017 – Demetrius Taylor, DL
2017 – Kevin Washington, DT

For those of you who are ready to put the lid on Miami Central’s season, need you be reminded that for the past seven years, the Rockets have called the shots.

After a convincing 48-6 win over Miami Jackson last Saturday, the four-time 6A state champions, who are being doubted by hundreds, will have a chance to show that they are very much alive for yet another state title on Friday night in the annual showdown with Northwestern at Traz Powell Stadium.

While they lost to Carol City two weeks ago, 34-7, putting them in a must-win situation, head coach Roland Smith and his team have been down this path before. Last year, after dropping an 8-7 decision to the Chiefs, many were looking at the end of the run then. It never happened. Central not only went on to crush the Chiefs in a rematch game and win yet another state title – easily over an Armwood team they have embarrassed four straight years.

“We know our work is cut out for us, but it is every year,” Smith told his team after the game. “If we play the football we know we can, everything will take care of itself.”

2017 – Isaac Addison, DE
2018 – Chai Bland, WR
2019 – Carlos Boothe, OL
2017 – Owen Carney, DE
2018 – James Cook, RB
2017 – Jamari Cox, OL
2017 – Joshua Dinson, DB
2017 – Navaughn Donaldson, OL
2018 – Malik Edwards, DL
2017 – Carmoni Green, WR
2017 – Antonio Isaac, WR
2017 – Kord Jenkins, RB
2017 – Allen Jones, DB
2017 – Cornell Jones, DL
2017 – Sammy Laster, S
2017 – Enos Lewis, S
2020 – Kelile Lewis, OL
2018 – Seth McGill, Athlete
2018 – Jermaine McMillan, DB
2017 – Mershawn Miller, OL
2018 – Tijuane Morten, QB
2017 – Kh’Lajuwan Murat, DB
2018 – Terrell Perriman, WR
2017 – Jernard Phillips, WR
2018 – Andrew Reese, DB
2019 – Maurice Smith, OL
2017 – Waynmon Steed, LB
2018 – Narrio Walks, LB
2017 – Anthony White, WR
2017 – Christopher Williams, DB

2020 – Raheem Berry, DL
2018 – Devontae Broussard, S
2017 – Keiron Broussard, RB
2017 – Lacedrick Brunson, LB
2018 – Jacob Cato, OL
2018 – Terrance Craig, QB
2018 – Gabriel Dunn, TE
2017 – Seven Fleurimond, WR
2017 – Renaldo Flowers, DL
2017 – Jovanny Gonzalez, LB
2019 – Edgar Harris, DL/OL
2018 – Jamarie Harrison, WR
2017 – Israel Jackson, LB
2019 – Javas Jackson, LB
2019 – Caliyah Kancey, DL
2018 – Gael Laurent, RB/LB
2018 – Anthony Lloyd, DB
2017 – Eric Mateo, DE
2018 – Devontae McCrare, OL/DL
2018 – Tyrone McKnight, WR
2017 – Donte Morris, OL
2017 – Nakia Robinson, RB/CB
2017 – Gregory Smith, OL/DL
2018 – Davon Washington, WR

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