This has been quite a week for Dennis Marroquin.

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The head coach of the defending 2A state champion Champagnat Catholic Lions started the weekend off by leading his Fire8 7-on-7 squad to the title of the first event of the off-season, took his team to see South Florida players after the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and then on Tuesday, after leading his high school team to a pair of state championship appearances, stepped down.

While his announcement sent shock waves throughout the high school football community, it was something that the likeable Marroquin had to do.

“Wasn’t easy, and with another child born recently, I had to do what is best for the family,” Marroquin said. “I love those coaches and kids we built, but things are in great hands.”

As he departs his high school position for a new job, there is no way that he will part with his longtime association with the Fire, which is now part of four teams in South Miami, Miami and West Palm Beach, along with a tremendous 15 and under squad.

The Fire has indeed become a brand that has national appeal. No matter where they go, the prospects that are on the roster certainly attract plenty of people to watch.

Marroquin and some dedicated coaches have kept the flame burning through the years.

The Pylon 7-on-7 event in Kissimmee (south of Orlando) featured teams from 10 states – as well as a number of South Florida programs.

Like so many tournaments – with all the other areas represented – it seems to come down to the South Florida teams.

The finals, which pitted heated rivals Fire8 and the South Florida Express11 (Miami), went into overtime – as the Fire8 once again captured the title.

“You go up there and see hundreds and hundreds of teams over a few days,” said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. “But when the final few rounds get started, a majority of those teams are from South Florida.”

Indeed, with quality teams on hand from  Georgia, Texas, California, Washington, Michigan and Virginia – it came down to South Florida – as Camp K (Miami), Hard Knocks (Miami), Nghtmr (Miami), Strong Arm (Miami), Fire South, Fire Palm Beach, Epic Elite (Delray Beach), Florida Lightning (Pompano Beach) and the Miami Immortals (Miami).


As so many of the local standouts were recognized via the many fan websites and video outlets, the Fire8 team also had some quality prospects who made a statement throughout this impressive season-opening event.

With hundreds and hundreds of fans on hand to watch players they knew about, the Fire8 also boasted some new faces – the next breed of head-turning athletes.

Here are a few of those talented young men who showcased their many skills at the Pylon tournament:

2020 – Rony Bourdeau, DB, Hialeah Champagnat Catholic. One of the fastest rising stars in South Florida, here is a very talented young man who is always ready to challenge the best – to become the best. Has been around the sport for a number of years, and continues to progress. This next year will be vital to his future, and he is embracing it.


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2020 – Jordan Cash, WR/CB, West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy. One of the big time youngsters in South Florida, this two-way standout helped lead his team to the 3A state title game. He is a super athletic and very talented. Has a chance to be very special as he matures and learns the game.


2019 – Akeem Dent, CB/WR, Palm Beach Central. What else can be said about one of the nation’s best that hasn’t already been said. This is a very impressive football player who is all over the field, he can cover, tackle and make plays against some of the best around – on both sides of the ball. It’s always easy to see why everyone loves this young man.


2019 – Marc’ Allen Derac, S, Delray Atlantic. This is a prospect that continues to make a huge impact – and his play with the Fire8 in the tournament started to open some eyes of those who had never watched this quality football perform. He helped to lead the Eagles to the 8A state title game. His size and playmaking abilities have colleges looking in his direction, often. Very talented football player.


2019 – Deon Jones, QB, Miami Norland. A backup this past season for the Vikings, this one time McArthur standout has started his final season off with a huge showing – as everyone left talking about this gifted standout in the Pylon event. Huge things ahead!


2019 – Marcus Lafrance, DB, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. While he has been at a few places over the past two years, his final season will be with the Raiders – and with a number of quality defensive backs graduating – this is certainly a position of need. Has the chance to be a top 20 player in prospect-rich South Florida as he shows what he can do. Those who have watched him play, already understand that he is indeed very special.


2019 – Christopher McDonald, Jr., DB, Miami Southridge. This is a talented young man who has been a big part of the Spartans defense for the past two years – and now – with plenty of college interest – he has matured and grown into one of the best in South Florida. Just watch him live and you will be sold. Great instincts and tremendous football player.


2019 – Taiwan Mullen, CB/WR, Coconut Creek. There are very few football players who have the experience and bring as much to the table as anyone his age. While his brother blazed the trail, Mullen has more than carved out his own path. This is a real good football player.


2019 – Kalani Norris, WR, CB, Miami Christopher Columbus. There are very few prospects in South Florida who have the future this young man has. A big time, two-way player who gets it done during and after the season. Was part of that tremendous Miami Westminster Christian class that has moved on.


2020 – Xavier Restrepo, WR/DB, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. By now, everyone is well aware of the story that keeps getting better and better. A two-year starter at Monarch, this gifted student/athlete has blown up with the media and those who had never watched him play before. But with several Power 5 offers in hand, Restrepo is now showcasing what several knew all along.


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