When Joe Zaccheo came back to coach Monsignor Pace two years ago, many felt that the icon had been away from the game too long. No way he would ever win the way he did back in the day.
With nearly eight years separating the last time he had coached the Spartans and the day he came back – against Mater Academy in a kickoff classic – the one thing that never changed was the way this future Hall of Fame approached the game.
While he took some lumps in the early going, the one thing that Zaccheo had told the players – from the start – was that from now on – things would be done the right way and if you wanted shortcuts, take your talents to another school.
If you have followed his career over the years, there would never be a reason to question one thing he did. This is someone who won and did it with kids who bought into his system – and with an alumni that reads like a who’s who of student/athletes over the years, this is someone who you pick to win that one game.
As everyone knows about the many elite prospects who left the program in search of greener pastures, Zaccheo and his coaching staff never flinched. Even when he was sick and had to be hospitalized, he had built such a chain of command, with his 6 a.m. practices and discipline, that the team maintained and matured.
From a program that many felt was on the decline – and had lost its luster – 2017 certainly has shown that the Spartans are indeed back, and with a convincing 49-0 win over Keys Gate Charter last Thursday night, are very much in he 4A playoff race at 6-1.
While there are 14 seniors on this year’s roster – with several who have been on board from the start – the focus this season was not on the players lost, but those who bought into what the objective was.
The senior class was the reasons that the Spartans turned the corner. It was with their leadership and experience that has put them in a position of truly turning things back around.
Among the seniors are several two-way players such as running back/defensive backs Ki’Sean Bullard and Eudens Antoine; Francisco Salomon (linebacker/running back); Rodrique Bichotte, Darius Edmonds, Kirk Fleming and Raphael Moise (OL/DL); and Rubin Smith-Bastian and Christian Crespo (DE/TE).
There is also linebacker Kevin Randolph; defensive ends Cesar Medina and Onelio Abreau; defensive lineman Amari Williams; and defensive back Elvins Desarmes.
THE FUTURE IS WITH THE UNDERCLASSMEN
As a number of seniors left this year and headed to other programs, it opened the door for several younger prospects top step up and make a difference.
This current junior class is loaded with football talent – on both sides of the ball.
On offense, quarterback Lorenzo Floyd has been solid. Since coming over from state champion Carol City, he has guided this attack. Are is joined by William Ferreira, who has also gotten a number of snaps in 2017.
Defensively, secondary standouts Damian Sosa and Marcus Fowles are also quality football players.
There are also two-way performers Caleb Robinson (DE/LB), Rayvaughn Choute (LB/RB), Tyrone Douglas (RB/DB), Oberde Desir (DB/WR), Antoine Daniels (WR/DB), Thomas Willis (RB/LB), Larry Azema (OL/DL), Bryner Joseph (OL/DL), Anthony Sanders (OL/DL), Devin Lewis (OL/DL) and Fabio Desir (OL/DL).
There is also kicker Ruben Masters.
CLASSES OF 2020 AND 2021 ARE LOADED
The Class of 2020 (sophomores) and 2021 (freshmen) are what the Spartans are also pointing towards. Sophomores Willie Floyd (RB/LB), Jaheem Joseph (DB/QB), Shamarr Wright (DB/WR), Joshua Jean (DB), Davis Dixon (OL/DL), Kenley Asse (OL/DL), Linne Michel (OL/DL), Wesley Clervius (TE/LB) and Marine Michel(DW/WR).
Just one freshman made the varsity squad – and that standout happens to be as good as you will find anywhere. Safety James Williams (6-4, 200) is 14 and the real deal!
“Reminds us a lot of Sean Taylor at this stage of his career,” Zaccheo explained. “Great young man with a lot of promise.”
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