After watching some of the state's best at the softball SlamFest last weekend, all I really came away thinking was that Jacksonville Mandarin is good.
They definitely played better than "mighty" Palm Beach Gardens, which lost to Palmetto and Lourdes. Word around the tournament was that neither faced Gardens' top pitcher. But still, this team is supposed to be way better than everyone else in Class 6A this year.
I think Palmetto, Cooper City and Lourdes would beg to differ. Certainly, Mandarin would.
With the exception of Palmetto's loss to Naples Barron Collier, a strong showing by the Panthers, which are still the team to beat from the 305 in 6A.
I reported Friday that Coral Park star soccer forward Steven Jair Cabas signed with FIU.
Looks like Shawn Chin, the most electrifying player with a soccer ball in Dade this season, is going to the ACC.
Specifically, Chin will play this fall at Boston College.
Chin had 25 goals and 23 assists to lead Varela to its first state title in any sport this season and is one of the top talents on this year's All-Dade boys' soccer team, which will be published this Tuesday.
Edison has hired former Central offensive coordinator Darryl Heidelburg as its new football head coach.
Heidelburg, an assistant with the Rockets in recent years, has been the architect of some of the most potent offenses in the county.
He takes over for Corey Bell, who recently was hired by UM.
He's a dynamic young assistant coach that's been waiting for his chance. Props to the Red Raiders for stepping up and giving one to him.
I'll have a story in the paper early next week and hopefully updates on the remaining vacancies.
Winter Park Lake Howell left no doubt why they are nationally-ranked and the Class 5A state champions.
Friday night at the Lakeland Center, the Silver Hawks recorded the largest blowout in state championship game history, by beating St. Petersburg Lakewood 85-42.
And against a Lakewood program that is no doormat.
Lakewood has won 2 state titles and been to the final four 5 times since 1997.
And the absolute pasting Lake Howell gave them was ridiculous.
No one in the 85-year history of this tournament....yes folks, going back to 1922...had beaten another team senseless as badly as Lake Howell did tonight. And we're talking a few games a year dating back 85 years.
The rich get richer in Gainesville with Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes going to UF. Those boys can ball with the best of them.
If Northwestern avoids its horrendous start, I have no doubt I'd be getting ready to cover them again tomorrow night.
But hey, the future still looks good for NW.
Coach Sam Watts has the program in strong shape again and I expect them to be in contention for the next few years.
Going into next season, Class 6A does not appear to be very overbearing. The only clear-cut superstar as of now outside of Dade might be Ely's Kenny Boynton.
In Dade, there will be tons of decent players, but it could be an open race again.
I think the frontrunners will be Norland, Killian and Northwestern.
Norland will be hungrier than ever after getting eliminated WAY too early this year. Lawton Williams has most of his players back and will have that team back in the playoffs and battling for a trip to Lakeland.
Killian will have to replace a lot of seniors, but then again Bob Kaufman had to do that this year as well. And like Northwestern, this school is back to getting solid athletes year after year in basketball.
That coupled with Kaufman, who to me is one of the best coaches in the state, will be the factor to get the Cougars deep into the playoffs again.
And the Bulls as I said before, will probably be strong. In District 14-6A, Miami High believe it or not will likely be better than this season since Marcus Carreno has some strong JV players moving up.
Killian should win 16-6A again.
15-6A is anyone's guess, but my hunch tells me South Miami, Columbus and Coral Park will vie for the title.
And 13-6A, should be Norland's for the taking.
He had only been in N.C. State a few hours and was already getting star treatment.
Krop guard Javi Gonzalez committed to the Wolfpack Friday after returning from a trip where he got some pretty good perks.
Wednesday night, Gonzalez got to watch the Wolfpack's game
against Wake Forest, while sitting next to former N.C. State and Hialeah-Miami Lakes star Chris Corchiani.
He also had fans chanting "We want Javi" by game's end.
Gonzalez is the sixth Dade player in the past three seasons to commit or sign with an ACC team. The other five are Norland's Zachery Peacock (Georgia Tech), Miami High's Edwin Rios (UM), Dwayne Collins (UM), South Miami's Brian Asbury (UM) and Calusa Prep's Denis Clemente (UM).
Gonzalez, who played in an AAU tournament this past summer with top
national prep recruit O.J. Mayo, has a solid chance to play immediately at N.C. State.
The Wolfpack's starting point guard Engin Atsur is graduating this season and the team has only one other point guard on its roster, but none with any college experience.
How good are things going for Monsignor Pace?
After returning to the court following halftime, a ballboy
asked guard Ray Taylor if he make a shot from halfcourt.
Taylor took the ball turned around and swished it from the
As of Thursday afternoon, the teams that have looked the most impressive here at state (in this writer's humble opinion) - Winter Park Lake Howell and Jacksonville Arlington Country Day.
Lake Howell showed why its ranked among the top 25 nationally. Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons scored 28 each and put on an outright show against a solid Dillard team.
Parsons, 6-9, was ridiculous, busting spin moves in the lane and showing tremendous agility.
Calathes has a sweet jumper and looks ready for the next level.
ACD came out with its full court press and immediately smoked Summit Christian. It showed how overmatched the rest of Class 2A is if Summit, ranked No. 2 is really the next best team.
They might as well hand the trophy to the Apaches tomorrow.
Back on the Dade front, Ray Shipman and Ray Taylor are putting an "R-Rated" performance as the Spartans lead 42-21 at the half and look ready to break their state semifinal funk in about 16 minutes.
Live from the Lakeland Center:
Former Dade high school writer Manny Navarro has been a busy man since arriving at Lakeland.
He's been putting together audio and video clips from all the local teams' state semifinal games.
But moments ago, he was given another duty at courtside - Towel Boy.
After stopping Port Orange Atlantic on a drive to the basket, Pace star guard Ray Shipman borrowed Navarro's towel at press row during a timeout, then once the whistle blew, ran back and hit a 3-pointer.
No word yet if Pace will hire Manny for the remainder of the tournament.