Larry BlockSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

With all the success that the South Florida high school football programs have achieved – locally and nationally – the coaches never seem to get the respect they truly deserve.

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As coaches from Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states that have tremendous interest in high school football continue to make high salaries, teach little to no classes and reap the accolades from colleges and the media from around the country – it’s the South Florida coaches who are being so overlooked for what they do – year round without many of the perks that coaches from across the country receive.

The fact that South Florida produces by far more NFL and professional talent than any other place in the country should be considered when applauding coaches across the nation who have six figure salaries and do half the year-round coaching, teaching and babysitting that South Florida coaches do.

If you sat down and actually calculated how much a high school coach in South Florida makes – for all they put in year round – it would be laughable at best.

Having been around this high level football all of my life, and watching in other areas of the country, having to see current coaches such as longtime icons Rich Stuart (Belen Jesuit), Jeff Bertani (North Miami Beach), Mark Guandolo (Cypress Bay), Joe Zaccheo (Monsignor Pace) and Byron Walker (Archbishop McCarthy) making next to nothing for being a part of this successful system for nearly four decades, truly pains me.

It’s a crying shame.

States such as Texas and Georgia would have to break the bank to afford the knowledge and experience these innovators bring to their programs daily.

Give me the knowledge and wisdom of veteran educators/coaches such as Roger Harriott (St. Thomas Aquinas), Billy Rolle (Northwestern), Tim “Ice” Harris, Chris Merritt (Christopher Columbus), Rocco Casullo (Mater Academy), Darryl Heidelburg (Norland), Art Taylor (Everglades), Carl Wilburn (Blanche Ely), Willis May (Douglas), Roland Smith (Central), Steve Smith (Hialeah), Earl Sims (Gulliver Prep), Rex Nottage (North Broward Prep), Willie Dodaro (Monarch) and Adam Ratkevich (Western).

Even the new breed such as Max Edwards (Northwestern), Jase Stewart (Doral Academy), Laron Culpepper (McArthur), Lorenzo Davis (Dillard), Richard Dunbar (Fort Lauderdale), Roger Pollard (Coral Gables), Aubrey Hill (Carol City), Napoleon Joseph (Edison), Javi Valdes (Killian), Dennis Marroquin (Hialeah Champagnat Catholic), Pat Surtain (American Heritage), Jevon Glenn (Deerfield Beach), Dameon Jones (Chaminade-Madonna) and Tally Adams (Stranahan) get what it takes to not only compete, but to develop for a higher level.

So do Kevin Huntley (Nova), Matt Dubuc (Cardinal Gibbons), Pierre Senatus (Miramar), Stanford Samuels (Flanagan), Gerald Cox (Coconut Creek), Benedict Hyppolite (Hallandale), Brandon Walker (Cooper City), Ed Williams (North Miami), Mike Manasco (Palmetto), Nate Hudson (South Dade), Daniel Luque (University School) and several others.

The respect is on display year round and at every level. Our local coaches just don’t show up to their local youth programs to be seen. They make an impact and start taking an active role in the lives of their future players and their families.

That is what helps pay it forward to every level – and why all the professional prospects are comfortable walking the sidelines of their local youth and high school programs – where they couldn’t even go out to dinner in the cities they have made a name for themselves in.

The very thought of a full-time high school coach not teaching classes is something that will never be an issue in South Florida – because it will never happen. With numerous pay cuts for educators in Miami-Dade and Broward coming all the time, which is so awful in many ways, there would be too many grievances filed by hard-working teachers who would have every right to do so.

So, the next time you see some of those programs on TV with multi-million dollar stadiums and fans packed to the upper deck, many of the athletes you are watching are not getting the year-round life lessons that these South Florida coaches provide. In addition, attend a game in South Florida and you are almost guaranteed that you will see an NFL player or two, three or four that you would never view anywhere else.

It was easily the best second round game in the country – and while those who had the chance to watch the thrilling game between Carol City and Northwestern, it was one of those classic matchups that brought back some of those great years of inner city football in Miami-Dade County.

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The 34-27 win by the Chiefs over a tremendous Bulls’ squad was not the game that sends this program to state, but it does push head coach Aubrey Hill’s football team to the third round of the 6A state playoffs – the day after Thanksgiving – at No. 1 Daytona Beach Mainland.

For the first time in six years, a team other than Miami Central, will represent South Florida in the state playoffs – and watching this game that people will remember for generations – it brought back some great memories.

“Classic game by two outstanding teams that have been making lasting contributions to football in the state of Florida for a long time,” Hill said. “This is football the way it used to be.”

Indeed, a packed house at the “Mecca” (Traz Powell Stadium) greeted these two teams for the second time in a month. The first meeting saw head coach Max Edwards and the Bulls win the district title. But like last year when the Chiefs beat Central for the district title, only to lose when things really counted, the Chiefs were ready this time around.

It was indeed a game where the stars came out and once again put a stamp on how impressive football is in Miami-Dade County.

So, there is a winner of the “SEC district” – but this time around – Carol City will carry the banner for the region – with hopes of winning a state title for the first time in nearly 15 years.

2018 – Yasir Abdullah, LB
2018 – Mark Carter, Jr., DB
2017 – Naytron Culpepper, DB
2018 – Camron Davis, RB
2018 – Irshaad Davis, DB
2017 – Kevaughn Dingle, WR
2017 – Jason Dunios, OL
2017 – Jamare Edwards, DL
2019 – Lorenzo Floyd, QB
2018 – Leonard Lucas, OL/DL
2017 – Moris Lugo, LB
2017 – Harvey Martin, OL
2018 – Daequan Nelson, LB/RB
2018 – Montrell Newton Jr., OL
2018 – Kewon Parker, LB
2017 – Angelo Powell, DB
2018 – Randy Russell, DB
2018 – Marlon Smith, QB
2017 – Terry Straughter, LB
2017 – Donelle Thomas, DB
2017 – Victor Tucker, WR
2017 – Christner Valembrum, OL
2018 – Phenol Williams, WR/DB

2017 – Andre Adams, WR
2018 – Tutu Atwell, QB
2017 – Jude Barthlemy, WR
2019 – Samuel Brooks, DE
2017 – Travon Brooks, LB
2018 – Thomas Burns, DB
2018 – Teron Carey, OL
2018 – Tyquan Cooper, OL
2018 – Derrick Davis, WR
2018 – Kiaryn Davis, RB
2017 – Taurus Dotson, DB
2017 – Kelvin Flores, PK
2019 – Mark Fox, OL
2017 – Ben Garland, DB
2018 – Avery Hall, OL
2018 – Corey Hammet, RB
2017 – Harry Hanna, OL
2018 – Justin Hill, Jr., WR
2017 – Schneider Jonassaint, DE
2018 – Billy Joseph, LB
2018 – Roy Livingstone, WR
2018 – Aaron Louis, RB
2018 – Dememtrius Mayes, DT
2017 – Al-Malik Moore, WR
2017 – Demetrius Taylor, LB
2017 – Kevin Washington, OL/DL

While the newer football fans in South Florida can rattle off coaches and teams that they believe are among the best, it’s a good bet that when the name Byron Walker pops up, those who really know football and what it takes to be an all-around coach, put him at the top.

The one time Glades Central standout football player has made a career of taking athletes and teaching them and showing them the right way to play the game. That is something that has gone unnoticed in some circles in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

In his years at Glades Day and American Heritage, Walkers has won state titles, coaches major college football players and has developed athletes who still come back to see this icon every year.

When his Archbishop McCarthy team won the Gold Coast Conference title last Thursday night, 51-23, over North Broward Prep, Walker and his football team finished the season with a 10-1 record, 21-1 in two years – which is easily the best in South Florida.

“We have put together a program where these young men come in here and know that they are going to learn about the game from a tremendous coaching staff,” Walker explained. “This is a group of football players that are still very young and will definitely be right back in the mix next year as well.”

As North Broward Prep head coach Rex Nottage finished with a very impressive 9-3 season, he will also welcome back plenty of athletes for the 2017 season. The Eagles made some major strides this season.

2018 – Christian Avila, WR/DB
2019 – Jacob Baptiste, RB
2018 – Ramsey Baty, TE/OLB
2019 – Derek Burns, LB/TE
2017 – Daniel Cerda, LB/FB
2017 – Bradyn Clarke, OL/DL
2018 – Quinn Dempsey, QB
2019 – Rashad Dollar, S/RB
2018 – Logan Giordano, CB/WR
2018 – Andrew Hallman, S
2019 – Noah Hunter, DB/WR
2017 – Zach Messer, DE/TE
2017 – Marcus Mijares, NG/TE
2017 – Mason Moyer, OL/DL
2018 – Marcus Nunez, OC/DL
2018 – Carlos Ramos, OL
2019 – Jesse Rivera, QB
2018 – Julian Rosario, K/P
2017 – Jonathan Salaya, WR/DB
2019 – Gio Sandora, LB/FB
2018 – Eric Scott, DL/OL
2018 – Denzel Simmon, LB/FB

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2018 – Kevin Austin, WR/DB
2017 – Justin Bentayou, OL/DL
2019 – Kurt Bernard, OL/DL
2017 – Ivan Bronnikov, DT
2018 – Kirby Burns, LB/FB
2020 – Thomas Carvajal, FS
2018 – Cole Cavaline, RB/LB
2018 – Bradley Cooper, WR/DB
2019 – Justin Doles, RB/DB
2017 – Anthony Gomez, Athlete/DB
2017 – Hunter Greggs, OL/LB
2019 – Hunter Guinta, QB/WR
2017 – Kenny Henningsen, TE/DE
2017 – Kallen Jennings, LB
2017 – Dymitri McKenzie, LB/RB
2018 – Logan Shooster, QB
2019 – Tyler Struve, TE/DE
2019 – Jasen Vest, RB/LB