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If you attend any South Florida high school football game – either Miami-Dade or Broward Counties – you never know who you will see roaming the sideline.

From Teddy Bridgewater to Jabaal Sheard, Antonio Brown, Demarcus Van Dyke and countless other football stars who began their careers on fields across South Florida, coming back and mixing with friends, family and former teammates have made this region of the country different.

While so many areas of this great nation having former players come back, it doesn’t get any better than having a National Football League stars, shaking hands, giving advice and getting involved in their alma mater.

“Because of the way things are structured down here in south Florida, coming back to a game at your high school has always been natural,” said Van Dyke, a former Monsignor Pace and University of Miami standout. “There are no egos down here. The old timers won’t let that happen.”

What is perhaps the most unwritten rule in south Florida is that no matter how much success you achieve at the next level and beyond, you always give back to the community that made everything possible for you to achieve.

No matter where you go in Miami-Dade or Broward during the season, you are very likely to see an NFL standout on a week off coming back and attending their school’s game. Sheard, a starter for the New England Patriots, has been returning to his alma mater, Hollywood Hills, since he left for the University of Pittsburgh.

Selected by the Cleveland Browns, Sheard has always come back to see coaches, administrators and teachers. His former head coach Scott Barnwell, who is now coaching at Glades Central points to players like Sheard being the reason that so many youngsters in South Florida follow that lead.

“The top prospects of today see an NFL player that attended their high school come home and they feel it’s only natural,” Barnwell explained. “No matter where you go, it’s not unusual to see a current NFL standout return and being one of the guys on the sideline – interacting with the kids, coaches and fans.”

That bond that has been created here in South Florida goes back decades to when NFL players from this area would head out and then come back in the offseason and give back.

Camps, combines and other events are usually free, and players like T.Y. Hilton, Willis McGahee and so many others continue to give back. And in the end, that is what makes this area of the country unique and admired.

“When you have 50-60 players from this area that are on NFL rosters every year, you get everyone’s attention when so many come and give back,” said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. “Do not for a second think that people are not noticing – and that is why this region of the country so well respected.”

DIRTY BIRDS GET DEFENSIVE AGAIN
While many are waiting for the time when Flanagan’s offense may not be able to keep up with the opposition, the defending Class 8A state champions continue a march that will get the back to Orlando to defend the school’s first ever football title.

In a 21-7 opening round state playoff win against Piper last Thursday night, it as the defense that once again made a major difference in keeping this team on track to get back to the state title game. Smothering the Bengals all night long, it was these “Dirty Birds” of 2016 that limited Piper all night long – while junior Hunter Goetz came up with a pair interceptions and turned back the Bengals for the second straight year.

“People sleep on our offense,” said head coach Stanford Samuels Jr. “But if you notice, we do what is needed to win football games. Yes, our defense is the heart and soul of this team, but we have very talented football players on offense, too.”

The Falcons now move on to the second round where there will meet Deerfield Beach in a much-anticipated showdown.

FLANAGAN PROSPECT WATCH
2017 – Denzeil Alvis, RB
2018 – Josiah Beaufort, LB
2018 – Dwayne Boyles, LB
2017 – Lamont Brantley, S
2018 – Arthur Brathwaite, S
2017 – Keyondre Brown, LB
2017 – Westley Charles, LB
2018 – Zachary Dixon, Jr., LB/DE
2018 – Keyshon Gardner, RB
2018 – Hunter Goetz, S
2017 – Sedrick Harvey, DE
2017 – Faion Hicks, CB
2018 – Troy Ingle, OL
2017 – Anthony Johnson, RB
2017 – Chad Joseph, WR
2018 – Desjaun Kearse, QB
2017 – Jamar Lambert, OL
2018 – Allen Metellus, DB
2017 – Kamren Novaton, DE/LB
2018 – Drew Robinson, OL
2017 – Stanford Samuels III, DB/QB
2017 – Caleb Thomas, WR
2017 – Clevan Thomas, WR
2017 – Anthony Vega, OL
2018 – Michael Williams, LB
2018 – Devonta Wilson, S

PIPER PROSPECT WATCH
2017 – Tyler Adderley, WR
2017 – Sydney Audigier, DB
2017 – Kevin Bien-Aime, DB
2017 – Nickson Belhome, OL
2017 – Raecon Clarke, WR
2017 – Jacolby Davis, DE
2017 – Cameron Forsberg, LB
2017 – Rashawn Fraser, RB
2017 – Ja’Quan Geffrard, DB
2017 – Ja’Quez Geffrard, WR
2017 – Zayia Henry, RB
2017 – Randall Jean, LB/DL
2020 – Derohn King, QB
2017 – Joshua Pierre-Louis, DL
2017 – Shandon Marsden, DB
2018 – Jakari McMclam, OL
2018 – Bryand Rincher, DB
2017 – Christian Rodriguez, LB
2017 – Devin Rodriguez, OL
2017 – Kaory Simmons, DB
2018 – Edwin Spurgeon, OL
2018 – Jaycob Williams, WR
2018 – Te’Kauri Woodcock, DL

CORAL GABLES GETS ITS REMATCH
Roger Pollard had talked about this season back in August, and while he knew that this second round playoff matchup with district rival Christopher Columbus was certainly a reality, now is the time to change the fortunes of Coral Gables football.

While a 47-12 opening-round win over North Miami Beach was nice – that game and the rest of the season will mean absolutely nothing if the Cavaliers come up short again in this week’s second round meeting with the Explorers.

As many continue to ask why the Cavaliers can’t get over the hump against the Explorers, the answer may have come the last few weeks – and surfaced once again in the win over the Chargers.

Senior running back Jamar Thompkins and junior running back Johnny Ford have been one of the best 1-2 punches in South Florida, and while the Explorers have a solid defense, many feel that the Cavaliers may not be stopped on the ground this time around.

“The only way to win this next game is to play mistake-free football,” Pollard said. “We have shown that our defense matches up against anyone. Now, we need to keep running the ball and show confidence in doing so.”

CORAL GABLES PROSPECT WATCH
2017 – Joshua Aguero, OL
2019 – Rayquan Berry, WR
2020 – Dimitris Biamby, LB
2017 – Marlin Brooks, Athlete
2017 – Terrance Bryant, DB
2017 – Brandon Carrero, DL
2017 – Steve Carry, LB
2018 – Rajha Davis, OL
2017 – Elyjah Felton, DB
2018 – Johnny Ford, RB
2017 – Nick Galuppo, QB
2017 – Douglas Lopez, OL
2017 – Kahvon Lovett, DB
2017 – Robert McWilliams III, DE
2017 – Kristopher Moll, LB
2018 – Meklange Nicholas, DE/OLB
2019 – D’Angelo Paul, DL
2018 – Derrius Perryman, LB
2018 – Anthony Puntonet, DB
2018 – Sebastian Riella, PK
2017 – Josh Roman, WR
2017 – Kevin Romer, WR
2018 – Jaafari Stephens, OL
2017 – Jamar Thompkins, RB
2018 – Rashad Wildgoose, DB

NORTH MIAMI BEACH PROSPECT WATCH
2017 – Khalil Absolu, DL/OL
2017 – Woodlyson Alcius, DL/OL
2017 – Stanley Antoine, LB/RB
2017 – Jordan Atkins, LB/RB
2017 – Brian Brown, DL/OL
2018 – Vinshaun Cobham, LB/RB
2018 – Jean Desir, DL/OL
2017 – Alvin Floyd, DB/WR
2018 – Marvin Francois, DL/OL
2017 – Patrick Gilles, LB/TE
2017 – Marcelin Guerrier, DB/WR
2018 – Rodley Pierre-Louis, DB/WR
2017 – Fritz Merus, DB/WR
2018 – Wendell Morrison, QB
2017 – Shaide Ramirez, DB/WR
2018 – Volaskis Walkin, DB/WR
2019 – Leroy Wilson, DB/WR
2018 – Jacob Youyoute, DL/OL

IT’S CHAMINADE-MADONNA’S TIME TO STEP UP
After putting the IMG loss behind them, head coach Damien Jones and his Chaminade-Madonna Lions made a statement in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.

Now, if this team wants to keep playing this season, they have a tall task this coming Friday night.

Beating West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman 42-0 to open play in the state playoffs, the Lions now have to turn their attention to one of Florida’s best teams in Oxbridge. This is a team that have pretty much destroyed everyone but IMG – and Jones knows what’s ahead.

“If these young men want to continue playing and realize a dream of getting to Orlando, we need to play four quarters against Oxbridge,” Jones said. “We cannot make mistakes and must execute the way we did this week. It’s plain and simple – win or pack things away for the year.”

CARDINAL NEWMAN PROSPECT WATCH
2018 – Reggie Alexis, DL/OL
2017 – Austin Basile, LB/RB
2020 – Johnny Cantando, LB/RB
2018 – Brock Chase, LB/RB
2017 – John Colasacco, OL/DL
2017 – Nate Grant, LB/OL
2017 – Amari Hayes, DB/RB
2018 – Armani Hayes, WR/DL
2019 – E.J. Jackson, LB/RB
2018 – Nick Jones, DE/WR
2018 – Will Lanthier, OL/DL
2019 – Jayson Martin, OL/DL
2017 – Christian Mercurio, DL/RB
2018 – Jayson Moschella, QB/DB
2017 – Carson Powell, DB/RB
2019 – Tommy St. Julien, DB/RB
2017 – Jake Tucker, PK/P
2017 – Cedric Vincent, DB/WR

CHAMINADE-MADONNA PROSPECTS WATCH
2017 – Joshua Ali, WR
2017 – Stephen Jean-Baptiste, OL
2017 – Hunter Bucknam, LB
2017 – Henry Columbi, QB
2019 – Tecory Couch, WR
2018 – Brian Ellis, DB
2018 – Davoan Hawkins, OL
2017 – Julius Ianella, OL
2017 – A.J. Jancosko, OL
2017 – Anthony Johnson, DB
2018 – Tarique Livingstone, OL
2019 – Daelen Menard, QB
2017 – Jason Merry, P
2018 – Corey Prince, DL
2017 – Ruben Ramirez, OL
2018 – Justin Richardson, DB
2017 – Bradley Royas, DB
2018 – Shaun Shivers, RB
2019 – Keontra Smith, S
2017 – Anthony Valcarcel, DL
2017 – Cody Watson, LB
2018 – Jordan Williams, LB
2018 – Keyondre White, RB
2018 – Xavier Williams, DB/WR

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