When the 2016 season came to an end, many teams throughout South Florida boasted about things being different the following year.
As many followed through on those promises, others let that sting of not winning a state title fade away.
In Northeast Fort Lauderdale, the two losses to district foe and 5A state champion American Heritage became motivation. It was something that every Cardinal Gibbons player and coach thought about.
From the day the Chiefs put their uniforms away and focused on the offseason, those setbacks to American Heritage was indeed the motivation needed.
What second year head coach Matt Dubuc and his staff did was to remind the players that they hadn’t accomplished anything, and if they were going to take that jump to the next level, words would not be enough.
Last Saturday night, in the second of two Superintendent Cup games, pitting Miami-Dade (GMAC) and Broward (BCAA) schools, the Chiefs and Dubuc got their point across.
In beating the 8A defending state champion Miami Southridge Spartans, 27-6, a message was sent. Not so much to other teams that this program will have to play, but to the players who bought in to what former head coach Mike Morrill and Dubuc had long tried to establish.
What this win signaled is that you do not have to go out and load your teams with 4 and 5-star prospects to win. While Cardinal Gibbons has plenty of elite talent, the chemistry and bond formed by a single goal of winning, has put this program in a place that it has never been.
While they have been good over the years, and even played for a state title under the late Don Marino, no Cardinal Gibbons program had ever lit a flare that anyone could see. After the win over Billy Rolle’s Spartans, everyone knows where this team is headed.
If anyone followed this program over the past two years, through the spring and summer, you know that they have playmakers who had already gotten it done against elite players and teams.
Led by junior quarterback Nik Scalzo, things open up and the Chiefs take advantage. He is a leader who can put this team on his back if needed. Fellow junior Dimon Stewart is also special. He can play quarterback, but also is athletic enough to lineup at receiver as well.
The running game, as everyone saw, will be impressive – with junior Vincent Davis using his speed and senior Jordan Riggins adding the power.
Sophomore Tajai Davis is the next great one – and junior Nathan Alexis is solid.
The receiving corps will carry this team with playmakers who get it done.
Senior Carlos Sandy is on his way to Illinois after the season. He is a big time playmaker who can getting it done against anyone.
Fellow seniors Tavontae Decius, Brandon Lee, Levontae Decius, Allen Escuage, Jeff Georges and Jack Scaggs are all impressive. So are juniors Dijon Senior and tight end Nikolas Ognenovic.
While a few key linemen graduated, Dubuc knew that the line he had coming back had worked hard and had the talent to make a difference. It is a very deep unit.
Seniors Trey Bennett, Ray Wincko, Jeron Jaglal and Thomas Hankey have worked hard.
There are also gifted juniors Jamari Williams and Willie Hepburn, who have been getting it done for two years.
In addition, there are John Diaz, Mike O’Hara, Thomas Elsesser, Nick Saldias and David Roosna. There is also sophomore Gerald Mincey.
DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
Perhaps the area that this program has improved most in the past two seasons is on defense – where the secondary really has turned things up.
With University of Pittsburgh commitment Marquis Williams, Illinois-bound Ronald Hardge and Vanderbilt commitment Maxwell Worshsip, this is a unit that does not get the respect it deserves.
Other seniors in the secondary include Khouri Howson, Rodney Crooks and Connor Downes.
The future is also very promising with Sydney Porter, Donovan James, Derek Atwaters, Alex Battle and Allen Bryant.
The group of linebackers this program has this season may be as productive as you will find. Leading the way are seniors Donnell Bennett, Ryan Saddler, Eric Davis and Angel Lozano.
Junior standouts Yaweh Juedy and Nico Scheesley. There is also gifted sophomore Gabe Feliciano-Munoz.
The Chiefs will win a lot of games this season in the trenches. The line unit is truly a group that could really turn the tide.
Seniors Evan Loescel, Nick Nelson, Alex Lazcano and Cameron Brown have experience.
The junior class is also talented with standouts Khris Bogle and Rashon Crooks – as well as Trevis Robinson, Brandon Massaro, Chad Tiernan, Chris Smith and Jordan Johnson. There is also sophomore Terry Mareus.
The special teams are going to also put this program over the top – with highly rated senior kicker Griffin Cerra, junior punter Dalton Montiel and long snappers McKenna Sivore and Shelby Langen.
OPPONENT PROSPECT WATCH: MIAMI SOUTHRIDGE
2018 – Traquan Butler, DB
2018 – Travis Carter, DL
2018 – Randy Charlton, DE
2018 – Michael Cox, QB
2018 – Darren Davis, RB
2018 – Andre Dennis, DL
2018 – Jordan Dillard, WR/P
2018 – Gregory Franklin, LB
2019 – Darren Bledsoe Glover, DB/WR
2018 – James Head, DE
2019 – Diamante Howard, LB
2018 – Herman Jackson, DB
2019 – Lionel Long, LB
2019 – Christopher McDonald, DB
2018 – Mark Pope, WR
2019 – Courtney Reese, RB
2018 – Delone Scaife, OL
2018 – Kewanaqui Smith, DB
2019 – Marvin Strong, LB
2018 – Dee Wiggins, WR
2019 – Kirk Williams, LB
2018 – Malcolm Williams, OL
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