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8 posts from December 2007

December 15, 2007

Class 6A Final Game Day Blog: Final - Northwestern 41, Boone 0

Hello everybody. This is Frank DeMarzo and I will be posting updates and observations on this blog throughout the game. First off, the place is packed, easily the biggest crowd of the weekend. And they're all here to see the top team in the country. Unfortunately, Pahokee played last week (just kidding Bulls fans).

The Bulls are the home team dressed in black and instead of running through the tunnel as the team was announced, they all walked slowly up to the banner with 305 written across it before rushing through. We're getting ready to kickoff so here we go.


First NW Drive - Northwestern forced a quick three-and-out by Boone and moved close to midfield thanks to a screen pass to Kendal Thompkins, and run by Jacory Harris. 

Following a holding call, Harris throws deep to Brandon Drayton, who went way up for the catch. Next play, Harris throws a 31-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Streeter. Right out of the gate, the Bulls flex their offensive muscle. The drive took just 1:17.

Second Boone Drive - Boone's Danny Williams appeared to fumble the kickoff, and on the television replays it looks like he did. But there are no replays in high school, so the call stays. Boone will start the drive at the 31-yard line.

Again, three straight runs by Boone and a punt. A personal foul call and a delay of game on the Braves will push Boone back to the 18-yard line.

Wow, another Boone penalty. That is five in a row for the Braves, who call a much needed timeout. Not a good thing when you are already in a hole against a team like NW.

Well, they finally got the punt off and it was a 68-yarder.

Second NW Drive - Harris throws to Aldarius Johnson on third down and is a yard short at the 34-yard line. NW calls a timeout, probably to discus whether to go for it. They choose to punt. That has to give Boone some confidence.

Third Boone Drive - And on the first play of the drive, Sam Hutsell throws a 9-yard pass to Williams. That was followed by an encroachment penalty on the Bulls, giving Boone a first down. Trying to build on the momentum, they follow it up with a fumbled snap, a sack and a horribly overthrown pass. Another punt, which so far has been the best part of their game. This one is down at the 1-yard line.

Third NW Drive - Give what happened last week, a 99-yard drive is not an impossibility for these guys. Two short passes and a run by Daquan Hargrett moved NW out of the shadow of the endzone.

Just heard the stats, Harris is 7-9 passing for 113 yards. He just ran for five, and followed that up with a pass to Thompkins for a first down. And that will do it for the first quarter.


Ah, a wedding proposal on the field during the break. And she said yes!

NW Drive Continued - Another stalled drive by NW as a holding call and two consecutive incomplete passes will force the punt.

Fourth Boone Drive - Another rush by James Washington for Boone. He had 291 carries this year so I can imagine he will be getting the ball quite a bit today. So far, he has five rushes for just eight yards.

Wow, Sean Spence just came up with the hit of the game, drilling Washington immediately after he caught a short pass. That'll force another Boone punt.

Fourth NW Drive -  NW will start at the 38-yard line, and the Bulls are keeping it on the ground as Tyresse Jones runs for a first down on three carries. A face mask penalty will add 15 yards.

A bad snap and NW loses 21 yards on the play. After Harris overthrows a wide open Robert Demps, he is almost picked off. It's a third straight punt for NW and the Boone sideline is going crazy right now.

Fifth Boone Drive - Well that will change the momentum. Pinned down near the goal line, Washington fumbles and Khalid Marshal scoops up the ball and runs it in for the touchdown. Harris hits Thompkins for the 2-pointer. 14-0 NW.

Sixth Boone Drive - The Braves fans have understandably quieted down a bit. After two runs by Washington, Boone finally attempts a pass, but Hutsell is sacked. Boone lines up for a punt, and its blocked! Wow, the punt, the one thing Boone had going for it, turns into a disaster for the Braves as Tevin McCaskill comes through with the block, and Spence returns it for a touchdown. 21-0 NW.

Seventh Boone Drive - Hutsell completes his second pass of the game, hitting - who else - Washington for a first down. But the Braves just keep killing themselves as Washington fumbles again and Levonte David recovers for the Bulls.

Fifth NW Drive - There's less than three minutes before the half so I imagine NW will go for the quick score. Again Harris tries to go deep, but the ball is just off the fingertips of Thompkins to bring up 3rd-and-22. And it's another fumbled snap, this one is recovered by Boone at the NW 33-yard line. It looked like Harris was trying to call a timeout when the ball was snapped.

Eighth Boone Drive - The Braves are close to scoring after a 10-yard run by Jeremy Brown. On the next play, Washington runs for 19-yards to get down to the 3-yard line. On the next play, Washington fumbles again. NW will get the ball their own 10-yard line.

Sixth NW Drive - Harris is sacked for a loss of five, and his next pass is incomplete. It's 3rd-and-15 from the five.  Harris hits Hargrett, who runs down to midfield. There's 1:04 left in the half.

Harris' next pass is picked off by Harrison Hodges with :27 left. Boone lines up with four wide, looking like they're going to go deep, but Hutsell is sacked by Marcus Forston. Boone calls a timeout with :12 left, and the Braves will take a knee to run out the clock. It's 21-0 NW at the half. I'll be back with halftime stats and observations shortly.


Before I get to the game, the FHSAA, as part of its celebration of 100 years of football, honored the 1967 Coral Gables team as its team of the century.

The Bulls defense was on during the first half, holding the Braves to just 68 total yards. But since the first quarter, the offense has not been the explosive juggernaut it was during the season. Harris has 176 yards, one touchdown and one pick, but the running game has just three yards. If not for the turnovers by Boone, NW does not lead 21-0. But then again, if not for the defense scoring off of turnovers, NW would have had more than just three possessions in the second quarter. We'll see how it goes when they get the ball to start the second half.


NW First Drive - After missing on two passes, Harris hits Streeter for a first down. Two plays later, Harris finds Johnson in the endzone, but he is called for pass interference. Next play, Harris hits Thompkins for a 24-yard touchdown. There's the offense. That drive took less than two minutes. 28-0 NW.

Boone First Drive - A few runs gave the Braves a first down, but an incompletion brings up 3rd-and-10 as the 48. Hutsell hits Jeremy Brown, but it was for a loss. Another Boone punt, and this one was more bad news for the Braves. Thomkison picks the ball up off a bounce and runs 69-yards for the touchdown.
Just like that, its 35-0 NW. The NW crowd is already chanting "Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye". There is 7:00 left in the third quarter.

Boone Second Drive - I turned away for a moment to work on something else, but it appears to me more of the same for the Braves offense. The running game cannot get through, and we have another third down. This time Hutsell runs, and he gets the first.

The t.v. just showed a shot of the Boone fans and they aren't making too much noise right about now, which is understandable given the score. Hutsell drops back and is sacked again. It's third-and-long from the Boone 40. Hutsell tries to throw but is brought down again. He may just start to drop back three yards and fall down. It'll save him the physical pain of Marcus Forston crashing into him.

On fourth down, the Boone punting game returned to being the lifeblood of the team as a roughing the kicker call gave Boone a first down.

It's fourth down again, and they finally get an event-free punt off, although there is a penalty on NW. I think Boone will take that.

NW Second Drive - It seems like it's been ages since the Bulls had the ball. They start at their own 6-yard line. On second down, Harris finds Johnson for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, Harris shows off his running skills, racing down to the Boone 25 before making a few defenders look foolish as he gained a few more. It was a 51-yard run, and that will end the third quarter. Its NW 35-0.


NW Drive Continued - Harris is sacked to start the quarter, and the entire NW sideline just fell completely silent as Harris stayed on the field. He needed help to walk to the sidelines.

On the next play, backup QB Wayne Times hits Johnson for the touchdown. A failed 2-pointer makes it 41-0 NW.

UPDATE - Manny Navarro said that Harris told him he is okay.

Boone Third Drive - It's official, there is a running clock. In a state title game. We also have the attendance. The paid attendance is 21,235 short of the record by 1,800. The announced attendance is 22,752.

While I was listening to that, Spence, returned a punt for a touchdown but it was called back on a penalty. NW will have the ball at the 27-yard line.

NW Third Drive - Times is still in and he hits Tyrell Lewis for a first down pass. The Bulls appear to have most of their starters out of the game at this point. On second down, there was another bad snap, as the ball travels past the 30-yard line. Times picks it up and manages to keep it just a 6-yard loss. NW gets stopped on 4th down to end the drive.

Boone Forth Drive - We're just watching the clock tick down at this point, although Boone is doing whatever they can to avoid the shutout. Speaking of shutouts, the record for biggest shutout victory in an FHSAA state title game was 39-0 set in 1965 by Bradford, unless somebody tells me differently. In case your wondering, the record margin of victory is 63 points. That was set in 2000 by Venice.

And that is it. NW wins 41-0 for their second straight 6A state title. South Florida goes 3-for-3 at the state finals and the Bulls finish as the National Champions. Congratulations Northwestern on another amazing season.

I'll be back with some stats and post game observations shortly.


So here are the final stats - Harris was 17-32-1 with 281 yards and 2 TD's. He also ran for 51 yards. Johnson had 7 catches for 84 yards, Steeter had 4 for 91, and Thompkins had 3-41. All three had touchdown catches.

On defense, Forston had 6 tackles, including three for loss, while Spence had six tackles, three for loss. Quavon Taylor led the team with 8 tackles.

This was my first time covering NW and I was very impressed. In fact, today was the first time I saw either them or Booker T. Washington. I work out of Broward so I did not get a chance to see them at all this year, but I did get to cover Pahokee earlier this year, and I saw St. Thomas a few times, so I was lucky to have covered such great teams this year.

Congratulations to St. Thomas, Booker T. Washington, and Northwestern for bringing titles home to South Florida. Thank you to all the readers out there, I hope you guys enjoyed this live blog as well as all of our coverage this football season. Check back to the Miami Herald's site later on for all the stories from tonight's game.

Live Blog: Booker T. Washington 23, Nease 15 (FINAL)

Good morning, errr, early afternoon.

This is Bob Emanuel Jr., Broward's high school sports reporter, bringing you live coverage of today's Class 4A championship game from beautiful, downtown Orlando.

Refresh your page often to get the updates from the Citrus Bowl.


Eduardo Clements is FAST. And, apparently, he's pretty good as well. On the Tornadoes first two plays, Clements ran for gains of 14 and 26 yards.

BTW's first drive ended prematurely, however, when Torrance Moise's fourth-and-13 pass fell incomplete from the Nease 27.

Faced with a third-and-14 from his own 41, Moise hit Devon Johnson over the middle for a 57-yard gain to the 2. Clements scored on the next play.

BTW was just denied on a fourth-and-1 from the Nease 7. Could have been a first down on the previous play, but as my astute colleague Bill Daley said, the refs may have botch the spot of a penalty. No matter, the Tornadoes got some points out of it with a sack in the end zone for a safety.

BTW's latest drive is going backward. It is now second-and-29. Sheesh.

BTW has 194 total yards through 12 minutes. Nease, to quote the immortal Borat, "Not so much." The Panthers are at -7. Yes, that is a minus.


Two big pass plays and Nease is in scoring position. First-and-10 from the BTW 16. Uh oh. All that dominance, and Nease is still in the game.
Touchdown Nease. Ted Stachitas found Andrew Barnes on a screen to the left. It was three straight screen passes, and no one stopped them. Who's coaching here? Tom Olivadotti (old school Dolphin reference)?

Queue up the song... "Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you." BTW just gets a 69-yard gain on a screen to Thearon Collier to the Nease 2. Collier blazed down the right sideline and was knocked out at the last second. Two plays later, Clements goes up and over the pile for the score. 9:20 remaining.

Ok, this is getting out of hand. I might have to inject some major caffeine into my system because this game is a sleeper. BTW just went up the field (again), and Moise found Clements for a 13-yard touchdown. 4:48 remaining, and this is turning into a one-sided whooping.

Well, maybe Washington heard my plea for excitement. Tornadoes just gave Nease a pair of first downs by jumping offside, including a fourth-and-1. Make that three first downs by penalties. BTW just hit with defensive holding.

Yes! A trick play. Nease went for a fake punt on fourth-and-6. It was stopped for a 5-yard gain.

BTW ball. Johnson just gained 32 yards to reach the Nease 32. 0:56 remains. Four plays later, turnover on downs. That was exciting. Okay, maybe not.

Moise has 245 yards passing through one half. Oh my. Total yardage: BTW 346, Nease 102. Hey, it's an improvement.


Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ho hum. BTW gets an interception and is in scoring position. Yawn. Benedick Hyppolite just scored on a 19-yard pass from Moise. Wait. A late flag. A very, very late flag. The ball is in the air, past the 10 and the flag comes in. Holding, BTW. Back to the 30. Can they score from this far out? How quick? Let's see.Missed FG. Same score.

Nease is moving the ball. Hmm. This can be interesting. First-and-goal from the 6.  Loss of 1. Patrick Barker runs it in from the 7. 23-13. Nease is lining up for two. Ted Stachitas rolls out to his right. He gets hit and gets off a pass to Barker for two.

Uh oh. Nease attempts and recovers the onside kick. 3:43 remaining in the third quarter, and Nease has a second-and-10 from the 37. Stay tuned. And, we're back.

Nease just hits a double pass. There's a flag for a chop block on a 6-yard gain, but they just waved it off. You never want to insinuate about poor officiating, but, it does appear the yellow bean bags are favoring Nease just a tad. No matter, BTW holds and Nease misses a field goal. Still 23-15.


Here we go. Twelve final minutes. Can the Tornadoes hold on? I love this game!

Stat update: Moise has 275 passing and BTW leads in yardage, 413-199.

Short BTW punt, and Nease takes possession at midfield. Well, that didn't last long. Nease goes backward and is punting from its own 33. BTW ball at its own 3 with 10:15 to play.

This could change everything. Torrance Moise was just helped off the field and could not put weight on his leg. Brandon Harris is now at quarterback.

Wow, Brandon is slick. This kid's got moves. He just broke off a huge run to bring the Tornadoes out toward midfield. First down at the BTW 45.

BTW punts from its own 48. Nease ball at its 28 with 4:02 to play. Forget the snooze. It's win time. Who makes the play?

Nease has two timeouts and is punting on fourth-and-12 from its own 26. Washington ball at its 40 with 1:56 to play. A first down here and it's golden time for the Tornadoes.

Third-and-14 for BTW from its own 36. Nease is now out of timeouts. Panthers can get the ball back with about 40 seconds to play if it stops BTW on the next play.

Harris gains the first down, but the play is called back for a hold. BTW has more than 15 penalties in this game.

BTW runs out the clock. Print the championship shirts. We've got our second champion in less than 24 hours as Washington joins Broward's St. Thomas Aquinas. Northwestern tries to make it 3-3 in a few hours. Frank DeMarzo will take you through that one. See you all in three hours.


Where is Nease? Ok, more specifically, where are the Panther fans? Weak showing thus far.

After it looked like a potential rain storm around 11:30 this afternoon, it is now bright and sunny at 1:30. The football Gods are smiling today, boys and girls.

Just a random thought here, but can we get all the Booker T. Washington, Northwestern, St. Thomas Aquinas and Deerfield Beach kids together, send them all to the U and have a superpower?

Booker T. Washington is FAST. Wow. The team speed here is incredible. I watch Broward's teams play all season, and I get treated to some great football. But, this? Whoa. And Northwestern is better (supposedly)? Can't wait. BTW just runs around you. Amazing.

By the way, the game is televised live on FSN. Not that I want you to tune away from this compelling journalistic endeavor, but you can watch and read. Yes, that's it. bring your laptop to the living room, watch and get expert commentary all at the same time. Talk about an added bonus!

The pregame media meal today was sponsored by Shane's Rib Shack. Very friendly people, and good food. A tad spicy, but good.

Washington band is doing the Souljah Boy. Yes!

Big cheer just went up when Northwestern's game was announced for tonight at 7.

Souljah Boy over the loudspeakers. Only the 438th time today. Can't wait for repeat No. 1,000 later this evening.

Nease's band is on the field. They are dressed in green and black. Are they the Nease Leprechauns?

Yes! Queen's "We Will Rock you" just played. Now this is a football game. Still upset Queen's "We Are the Champions" did not play last night.

December 14, 2007

Game day blog: St. Thomas 35, Osceola 20 (F)

Hi, this is Manny Navarro reporting from the Citrus Bowl. I'll be blogging live during tonight's Class 5A state championship game between the St. Thomas Raiders and Kissimmee Osceola. Tonight's game is being broadcast on FSN-Florida.

Feel free to watch on TV and feed me your thoughts as the game goes on. Any predictions? I'm picking St. Thomas 27, Osceola 24. Let's sit back and enjoy the game together.

- St. Thomas is kicking off. And Brandon Parker sends it into the end zone. Nice start for the Raiders.

- The big news in this one is that Osceola quarterback T'Sharvan Bell isn't playing. He's been replaced by sophomore Mark Deas.
- Osceola runs the ball on the first three plays of the game -- twice behind tailback Bubba Brown to pick up a first down.
- On the fifth play of the drive, Brown breaks containment and rumbles for 53 ytards down to the St. Thomas 19-yard line. On second down at the STA 18, Osceola tries to get sneaky and runs a wide receiver pass. But Bryant Butler's pass hit St. Thomas safety John Carr in the back for an incompletion. Osceola goes for it on fourth down and gets stopped.

- St. Thomas takes over at its own 16 yard line and on the first play, Jeremiah Harden sets a state record with an 84-yard touchdown run to put the Raiders up 7-0. ST. THOMAS 7, OSCEOLA 0.

- The Kowboys take over at their own 20 after Parker sends another kick into the end zone.
- On the second play of the drive, Gerard Thomas rumbles for another big run down into St. Thomas territory near midfield.
- Osceola has been able to move the ball on St. Thomas so far. This could be a shootout.
- Osceola has marched inside the St. Thomas 10 yard line behind its running game. But there is a big third down coming up.
- The Kowboys respond with a 10-yard touchdown run by Bubba Brown. Brown already has 10 carries, 86 yards and a score with 3:06 left to play in the first quarter. Chris Elsterman gets a bit lucky on the extra point as a St. Thomas player raced right passed the ball instead of blocking it. STA 7, OSCEOLA 7.

STA's 2nd Drive
- Two touches, two touchdowns. St. Thomas Aquinas scores on another big play when linebacker Conor O'Neil fields a short kickoff, runs around the corner and down the sideline for a 74-yard kickoff return. STA 14, OSCEOLA 7.

OSCEOLA's 3rd Drive
- Another Osceola drive starts at its own 20.
- Bubba Brown just sent three St. Thomas guys to the deck. What a tough runner. He picked up 24 yards on the first carry of this drive.
- Well, after getting pushed around for much of the first quarter, St. Thomas is bringing pressure up the middle now with linebackers and safeties. It's been effective for a few plays. It might be what St. Thomas needs to disrupt Osceola's offense.
- St. Thomas finally catches a break -- on defense -- when Brown fumbles and William Nesselt fell on it at the St. Thomas 37 yard line. END OF THE 1st QUARTER


STA's 3rd Drive
- St. Thomas faces an early third down and long, but Phillip Pierre-Louis picks up the first down on quick curl pass from quarterback Ryan Becker.
- Can you say too much speed? St. Thomas is spreading the love around. After Becker connected with Harden on a nice screen pass, junior Ronnie Kennedy took a handoff and rumbled for 20 yards to the Osceola 25.
- On the next play, though, St. Thomas turned the ball right back over when Giovanni Lambert drops the ball and Patrick Lambert falls on it at the Osceola 15.

I missed a couple of possessions because I was on the phone with University of Miami men's basketball coach Frank Haith.

Here's what I missed... St. Thomas recovered a fumble then cashed in when Duron Carter hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass with 4:11 to play in the half. STA 21, OSCEOLA 7.

St. Thomas had a chance to run out the clock in the first half, but opted to try and score. It backfired. Bobo Thomas returned a punt 85 yards with :31 left to make it 21-13.

Pregame notes from Orlando

It is overcast around the Citrus Bowl. Dark clouds loom over the north stands.

Selected St. Thomas Aquinas players and coaches are on the field, approximately 95 minutes before kickoff.

Traffic is already a problem outside the Citrus Bowl, with detours taking cars all around the stadium.

If you are on your way to the game, LEAVE NOW.

December 12, 2007

Top 33 players revealed

Fb_all_century Here it is: The FINAL release.

Here are the top 33 players of all-time in the state (as voted upon by a selected panel).

What do you think?



Duante Culpepper, Vanguard (Ocala), 1994. Mr. Football winner led team to state final with 3,070 passing yards and 602 rushing yards as senior. Career offensive total of 7,034 yards – 6,107 passing, 927 rushing – is in state’s top 10. Put Central Florida on college football map as star QB who completed 73.6 percent of his passes. Third player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000. Now in 9th NFL season, starting for Oakland.

Tim Tebow, Nease (Ponte Vedra Beach), 2005. State all-time total offense king with 13,042 career yards (9922 pass/3120 rush) and 159 TDs responsible for (96 passing/63 rushing) in 3 years as QB at Nease. Set single-season records as a senior with 5,552 yards (4286 passing, 1266 rushing) and 70 TDs (46/24) for 11-2 team. 2005 Mr. Football. Was awarded the 2007 Heisman Trophy as quarterback at Florida, becoming the first freshman or sophomore ever chosen to receive the prestigious award.

Running Backs

Rick Casares, Jefferson (Tampa), 1950. Named 1 of only 5 players in history recruiting analysts believe could have gone directly from high school to the pros because of their physical abilities. A 2nd-team All-American in 1953 as a junior at Florida before being drafted into the military. Began 11-year NFL career after drafted in 2nd-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears in 1954, beginning an 11-year NFL career. Was Bears’ all-time leading rusher until Walter Payton broke his records in the 1980s.

Tucker Frederickson, South Broward (Hollywood), 1960. One of the best RBs in the state for his time. Led Bulldogs to a 10-1 record in 1960. Became an All-American at Auburn and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. His pro career, which included being the first overall pick in the 1964 draft by the New York Giants, was cut short due to injury.

Willie Galimore, Excelsior (St. Augustine), 1952. “He was perhaps the greatest running back I ever saw or coached against” said Earl Kitchings, former head coach of Matthew Gilbert and Raines high schools. Considered by some experts to be the best Florida high school RB prior to Emmitt Smith. Remains leading rusher in FAMU history. Killed in an automobile accident in 1964.

Emmitt Smith, Escambia (Pensacola), 1986. Still holds state rushing record with 8,804 career yards on 1,127 carries and 106 TDs. Led Escambia to state titles in sophomore and junior years (2,934 rushing yards, 32 TDs on 353 carries in 14 games), and 10-1 season as a senior in the days when only district champ made playoffs. Set a career rushing record (later broken) at the University of Florida. Played 15 NFL seasons, setting numerous records, including career marks for rushing yards (18,355) and carries (4,409) that still stand. Played in 3 Super Bowls and 8 Pro Bowls. Was the 1993 NFL MVP.

Wide Receivers

Anthony Carter, Suncoast (Riviera Beach), 1978. One of the most electrifying players ever to come out of Palm Beach County. Had 161 catches for 3,641 yards during HS career, which ranks 4th all-time in state history. Caught 14 TDs as a senior, 36 in his career. Set several school and Big Ten records at Michigan. Played 3 seasons in USFL and 11 in NFL, where he was a 2-time Pro Bowl player and set receiving records for the Minnesota Vikings.

Michael Irvin, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), 1983. Caught 59 passes for 987 yards and 12 TDs during senior season for Raiders. Was all-state selection. Went on to brilliant collegiate career at Miami. A first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys. A Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Darrell Jackson, Tampa Catholic, 1995. Set then-national HS records for career receiving yards (4,594) and yards per catch (24.05) as a senior. Caught 191 passes in 3 seasons for Crusaders. Had 89 receptions for 2,087 yards and 28 TDs as a junior and 67 receptions a year later. Went on to star at Florida before turning pro after junior season. Selected in 3rd round of NFL draft by Seattle. Now in his 8th NFL season. Closing in on 500 career catches and 7,000 yards.

Offensive Lineman

Larry Brown, Bradford (Starke), 1966. One of Bradford’s first black players, excelled for Tornadoes’ state title team as senior. Played college ball at Kansas. Had 14 NFL seasons with Pittsburgh, including all 4 of Steelers’ Super Bowl wins. Was a TE from 1971-76 and an OL from 1977-84. Was picked to Pro Bowl in 1982.

Lomas Brown, Miami Springs, 1980. After a highly successful prep career, became a multi-year starter for University of Florida. Was 6th overall selection in 1985 NFL Draft. Played 18 years in NFL before retiring following 2002 season.

Larry Gagner, Seabreeze (Daytona Beach), 1961. A 2-way starter for the Sandcrabs. In his final 2 years, Seabreeze went 19-2-1. Claimed 1960 Class A mythical state championship when he was a junior. Was a mainstay on the OL for Florida Gators from 1963-65. Played in 60 NFL games with Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Steve Hutchinson, Coral Springs, 1995. Listed as 1 of top 3 HS offensive linemen nationally by SuperPrep. Four-year starter, 4-year All-Big 10 recognition at Michigan. Drafted No. 17 in first round by Seattle. All-Pro and still considered one of NFL’s top blockers. Currently plays for Minnesota Vikings.

Larry Little, Washington (Miami), 1962. A small college All-American for Bethune-Cookman. Undrafted, but was selected to the NFL Hall of Fame for his 14-year NFL career. Named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1970s.


Anquan Boldin, Pahokee, 1998. Mr. Football and first-team All-American his senior year. First player in state history to surpass 10,000 yards and then 11,000 yards in career offense. Had 4,339 yards total offense (2,842 passing and 1,497 rushing) for a 14-1 team as a senior. Finished high school career with 11,433 total yards, 134 TDs (71 passing, 56 rushing, 5 on interceptions returns, 2 on punt returns). Converted into WR at Florida State. Now plays for NFL Arizona Cardinals where he has earned Rookie of the Year and All-Pro awards.

Kicking Specialist

John Carney, Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach), 1982
First-team All-State K/P as HS senior. Made 55-of-58 PAT kicks and 15 FGs in 2 years, including a long of 49 yards. Finished collegiate career as Notre Dame’s all-time FG leader with 51 and was 2nd in scoring with 223 points. Kicked an NFL record 29 consecutive FGs in 1993. One of only 3 players in NFL with more than 400 career FGs. Ranked 4th on NFL’s all-time scoring list.


Defensive Linemen

Jerome Brown, Hernando (Brooksville), 1982. Standout DL and 3-sport letterman at Hernando in early 1980s. Went on to be an All-American at University of Miami and an All-Pro with Philadelphia Eagles. Played from 1987-91, picking up 29.5 career sacks in 76 games during his 5-year NFL career. Died in June 1992 in an automobile accident.

Ted Hendricks, Hialeah, 1965. Built upon his solid start at Hialeah to enjoy a College Hall of Fame career at Miami, where he recorded the most tackles ever for a Hurricane DL and finished 5th in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1968. Won 4 Super Bowls in 15 NFL seasons and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Was 64th on The Sporting News’ list of 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999. Was a member of the NFL’s all-time 75th anniversary team in 1994.

David “Deacon” Jones, Hungerford (Eatonville), 1956. Standout high school star in the pre-integration era. A Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Famer at Mississippi Valley State. Finished college career at South Carolina State. Earned NFL Hall of Fame status as a member of L.A. Rams “Fearsome Foursome” defensive front. Played 14 NFL seasons. Was legendary for sacking quarterbacks before it was adopted as a statistical category.

Jack Youngblood, Jefferson County (Monticello), 1966. Led team to state championship in 1966, playing OL and LB. Led a defense that shut out 7 opponents. Four-year letterman in high school. Earned All-American honors at the University of Florida. Charter member of Gators’ Ring of Honor. Drafted 20th player overall in 1971 NFL draft by Los Angeles Rams. Had 14-year career in the pros. Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.


Derrick Brooks, Washington (Pensacola), 1990. USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year and everybody’s All-American as a senior. Joined Emmitt Smith as only Floridians picked to USA Today All-Time Team (20 years) in 1991. Starred at FSU. Now in 13th NFL season, all with Tampa Bay. Was 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 2005 Pro Bowl MVP.

Rickey Jackson, Pahokee, 1977. Jackson and Pahokee teammate Remoise Johnson were dynamic bookend DEs in high school. Scouting reports said not to run to Johnson’s side, but teams quickly found out that running to Jackson’s side was an unacceptable alternative. Starred at the University of Pittsburgh. Became a 6-time Pro Bowl selection at LB in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1995 with the San Francisco 49ers. Played most of his pro career with the New Orleans Saints and is among the NFL all-time leaders in sacks (128) and fumble recoveries (29).

Ray Lewis, Kathleen (Lakeland), 1992. Was team MVP at Kathleen in junior and senior seasons, playing LB, RB and KR. Recorded 207 tackles with 10 sacks, 3 blocked FGs, 8 INTs and 6 TDs via kick or punt returns in HS career. Played 3 years at University of Miami, finishing with 393 career tackle. Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, where he has played 12 seasons with 8 Pro Bowl appearances.

Wilber Marshall, Astronaut (Titusville), 1979. Parade All-American in 1979 on a team with Cris Collinsworth at QB. Honored this year as the5th former star in the University of Florida Ring of Honor. Racked up 343 tackles and 23 sacks for the Gators. Played 12 NFL seasons, with 23 INTs, 2 Super Bowl rings and 3 Pro Bowl appearances.

Defensive Backs

Bennie Blades, Piper (Sunrise), 1983. Named to All-Time All-Broward Team in 1999. Played at University of Miami. Won Jim Thorpe Award in 1987 as top collegiate defensive back. Member of College Football Hall of Fame. First-round pick by Detroit Lions in 1988. Spent nine seasons in NFL.

Leroy Butler, Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville), 1985. Had 139 tackles as LB and 388 rushing yards on 18 carries as WB in senior year at Lee, which he helped lead to 3 district titles. First team Class 3A All-State, All-South and Florida Super 24 selection. Signed by FSU. Made famous by “puntrooski” play at Clemson in 1988. An All-Pro selection 5 times, a Pro Bowl selection 4 times and 1996 Super Bowl champ with Green Bay Packers. Originated the infamous “Lambeau Leap.” Retired from football in 2001.

Ken Riley, Union Academy (Bartow), 1965. One of 9 Union Academy graduates who made it to NFL before school closed in 1968. Played offense and defense in high school and QB at FAMU, where he was a 3-time All-American. Moved back to the secondary in the NFL, where he played 14 seasons with 65 INTs. Was later head football coach (1986-93) and athletic director (1994-2003) at FAMU.

Deion Sanders, North Fort Myers, 1984. One of state’s great all-time athletes. First-team all-area in football, basketball and baseball as a senior before playing 2 pro sports. A standout option QB in HS. Two-time consensus All-American at FSU while also dabbling in baseball and track (1988 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier). Listed as No. 1 cornerback on Sports Illustrated’s All-Century college team. Played 14 NFL seasons, with 6 Pro Bowls and 53 career INTs. Also hit .533 for Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series and was leading the National League in stolen bases in 1997 when he returned to football.

Sean Taylor, Gulliver Prep (Miami), 2000. Set state scoring record with 44 TDs as a member of Gulliver Prep’s 14-1 Class 2A state title team in 2000. Attended the University of Miami as a safety. Became 5th overall selection by the Washington Redskins in 2004 draft.

Kick Returner

“Neon” Leon Bright, Merritt Island, 1973. Rushed for 4,036 yards and 77 TDs when Mustangs were at top of Florida’s big classification (1972 state champs) with a prolific offense. Led FSU in rushing with 713 yards in 1973 and was backup RB and renowned courageous punt returner for New York Giants. Fielded 141 punts without calling for a fair catch in 5 NFL seasons.


Reggie Nelson, Palm Bay (Melbourne), 2002. Standout defender and return specialist for Pirates’ 2002 Class 4A state title team. Averaged 45 yards per punt return and 26.8 per kickoff return, totaling a state record 1,531 return yards as a senior. A first-team All-American as a junior free safety at UF in 2006 with 6 INTs and 2 blocked punts. Now a rookie starter for Jacksonville in the NFL.

Warren Sapp, Apopka, 1990. Did it all for Apopka, even punting, and was a first-team All-State pick as a LB. Converted to DL at the University of Miami. Earned consensus All-America honors and Bronko Nagurski Tropy as the nation’s top defensive player in 1994. Now in his 13th NFL season, has made Pro Bowl 7 times and was 1999 AP Defensive Player of the Year. Entered 2007 season with 94 sacks.

Kicking Specialist

Pat Summerall, Columbia (Lake City), 1947. All-state selection in football and basketball in the late 1940s. Also lettered in baseball and tennis. All-Southwest Conference football and basketball player at Arkansas. Played 10 seasons in NFL for Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, scoring 567 points during his career. Award-winning sports broadcaster. Inducted into Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

December 11, 2007

Top coaches revealed

Fb_all_century Here is the list of the top 12 coaches in the state's 100-year football history, as voted on by the FHSAA selection committee. The top coach will be named this weekend.

Bill Castle (active). Castle has compiled a 308-74 record in 32 years as head coach of Lakeland High School, which has never had a losing season under his leadership. His Dreadnaughts have won six state championships, including three consecutive state titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006; a state record 53 consecutive victories (the streak was ended this season); and two mythical national championships in 2005 and 2006. Castle was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

Gene Cox (retired). Cox won 313 games and two state championships in his 38-year career, which included stints at Suwannee (Live Oak), Jefferson County (Monticello), Leon (Tallahassee) and Aucilla Christian (Monticello). The bulk of his career was at Leon (from 1963-1990), where we won 238 games against just 68 losses and 4 ties. He is a member of the 1991 charter class of the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Walt Frazier (active). The coach at Miami Carol City for the past 26 seasons, Frazier has directed the Chiefs to three state championships (1996, 1997, 2003). His career record of 212-107, which includes three seasons at Miami Northwestern, ranks third on Miami-Dade’s all-time coaching list. Over the 1996 and 1997 seasons, the Chiefs won 29 straight games, which is still tied for Miami-Dade’s all-time longest streak.

Joe Kinnan (active). Kinnan, who coached Manatee (Bradenton) from 1981 to 2000, returned to the sidelines as coach of the Hurricanes in 2005 after a four-year battle with cancer, and immediately restored the program to district championship prominence. His 23-season record as a head coach, including his first two seasons at Cypress Lake (Fort Myers), is 220-62. He has coached the Hurricanes to four state championships (1983, 1985, 1989 and 1992).

Nick Kotys (deceased). The legendary Coral Gables High School coach built one of the most dominating programs in state history, winning FHSAA state titles in 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1968, and two mythical state championships before the playoff system was begun. Kotys also won four mythical national titles in 1956, 1964, 1967 and 1968. He retired in 1971 after 20 seasons as head coach of the Cavaliers with a 160-33-9 record. Kotys died in 2005 at the age of 92.

Carl Madison (retired). Madison coached Tate (Cantonment) to the 1980 state championship, and Pine Forest (Pensacola) to back-to-back state titles in 1987 and 1988, with the 1988 team being declared national champions by USA Today. In 24 seasons as a head coach at five different Florida high schools, Madison accumulated a record of 261-97-6. His overall career record, including stints at three out-of-state schools, is 326-129-7 over 34 seasons, good for second on Florida’s all-time coaching victories list.

Gerald Odom (retired). Odom’s Merritt Island High School teams made four appearances in the FHSAA Finals, winning two state titles in 1978 and 1979. He retired following the 2004 season after 33 years as a head coach at Merritt Island, New Smyrna Beach and Cocoa high schools with a career record of 268-85-2.

Nathaniel "Traz" Powell (deceased). Powell, who was the first black athlete to score a touchdown in the Orange Bowl stadium, went on to become one of the top coaches in the pre-integration Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association. He compiled a 167-37-3 career record over 21 years from 1949 through 1969 as head coach at Miami’s Carver and Mays high schools. Powell died in 1980. The football stadium at Miami-Dade College, which is the home to many of Miami-Dade’s top high school teams, including Miami Northwestern and Booker T. Washington, was renamed in his honor in 1988.

Robby Pruitt (active). The youngest coach ever to reach 100 wins and be inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame (Class of 2000), Pruitt won seven state championships in just 16 years – four at University Christian (Jacksonville) in 1987, 1989, 1991 and 1992 and three straight at Union County (Lake Butler) in 1994, 1995 and 1996. His record when he left the state after the 1999 season was 167-30, including a 31-6 playoff record. Pruitt has continued his success in Georgia, going 81-16-1 at Fitzgerald and Warner Robins high schools. His current overall career record is 248-46-1 in 24 seasons.

Corky Rogers (active). The winningest coaching in state history, Rogers has a 361-68-1 career record over 37 seasons – at Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) from 1971-88 and at Bolles (Jacksonville) from 1989 through the present. He has coached Bolles to seven state championships in 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Although the Bulldogs lost in the region finals this year, they finished the regular season 10-0, giving Rogers’ his ninth perfect regular season. He is a 2005 inductee into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

George Smith (active). Smith has amassed a 318-65 career record in 31 seasons, all at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, which is good for third on the all-time Florida coaching victories list. His Raiders have won three state championships (1992, 1997, 1999) in 10 FHSAA Finals appearances. They will be making an 11th finals appearance (fourth straight) this Friday night in the Class 5A state championship game. Smith is a 2005 inductee into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Al Werneke (deceased). Werneke was the first coach to win back-to-back FHSAA championships at two different schools – in 1971 and 1972 at Glades Central (Belle Glade) and in 1982 and 1983 at Titusville. In 24 seasons at five different Florida high schools he compiled a 187-69-2 record. His overall career record, including nine seasons in Illinois, was 257-93-5. Werneke died in 1997 and was posthumously inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

Ok, here is more fodder for you all to consider. And, I think for once our Dade County fans might be satisfied. (I didn't think it was possible...)

Fb_great_teamsBelow is the FHSAA's top teams of each decade. Notice three Dade schools are there. And you guys thought we ignored you.

The top overall team will be announced this weekend. Stay tuned.

The Early Years (1907-1920s).  The 1921 Duval High School Tigers of Jacksonville were 8-0 and became the first Florida team ever to be declared national champions by any organization (National Sports News Service). They whipped Dayton Steele of Ohio, which was regarded as the top team in the Midwest, 21-0, and then crushed Gainesville High School 56-0 in what was labeled a state championship game. Duval outscored opponents 366-3, allowing only Charleston (S.C.) High to score on a single field goal. Duval also won games 44-0 over Moultrie (Ga.) High, 34-0 over Montgomery (Ala.) Sidney Lanier, 77-0 over Lake City High and 74-0 over Hillsborough High.

The 1930s.  The 1934 Leesburg High School Yellow Jackets, coached by Ray Hayes, were easily the most dominant team of their era. Cruising to a perfect 10-0 record, Leesburg posted seven shutouts and outscored its opponents by an impressive 344-20, the likes of which included established programs such as Palatka, Suwannee (Live Oak), Mainland (Daytona Beach), Orlando and Ocala.

The 1940s.  The 1942 Miami High Stingarees, coached by Lyles Alley, were too much to handle for Florida teams of this era, outscoring opponents 305-73. The 9-0 Stingarees beat six out-of-state opponents, including Georgia state champion Boys High of Atlanta 31-20 and North Carolina state champion Asheville, 13-7, and were declared national champions by National Sports News Service.

The 1950s.  The 1958 Matthew Gilbert High School Panthers of Jacksonville were so talented that future Olympian Bob Hayes played that year as a backup junior running back. Coach by Earl Kitchings, the Panthers finished 12-0, winning the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association black school state championship with a 14-7 victory over Dillard (Fort Lauderdale) before more than 11,000 spectators.

The 1960s.  Called the best team he ever coached by the legendary Nick Kotys, the 1967 Coral Gables High School Cavaliers shut out nine of 13 opponents by a composite score of 410-26. Coral Gables defeated Wolfson (Jacksonville), 21-7, in the FHSAA Class 2A Finals, after blanking McArthur (Hollywood) 36-0 and Robinson (Tampa) 55-0 in the first and second rounds. Finishing the season 13-0, the ’67 Cavaliers were the second of three Coral Gables teams crowned national champions during the 1960s.

The 1970s.  Finishing 13-0 and Class 4A state champions, the high-powered 1972 Merritt Island High School Mustangs, coached by Eddie Feely, scored 519 points for a 39.9 point-per-game average, and ran up more than 5,000 yards in total offense. They beat Leon (Tallahassee) 40-21 in the state championship game.

The 1980s.  Declared national champions by USA Today, the 1988 Pine Forest High School Eagles of Pensacola, coached by Carl Madison, finished the season 13-0 and won the Class 5A state title (their second straight) with a 50-27 victory over Riverview (Sarasota). The Eagles defeated its playoff opponents that year by an average of 30.5 points per game. Said Madison of the team he called his greatest: “We could score.”

The 1990s.  The 1993 Miami Southridge High School Spartans, coached by Don Soldinger, cruised to the Class 5A state championship with a 69-36 rout of Manatee (Bradenton) in the FHSAA Finals. The 15-0 Spartans had a high-powered offense featuring future 1996 Heisman Trophy finalist Troy Davis and a defense led by USA Today Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Lamont Green.

The 2000s.  The 2005 Lakeland High School Dreadnaughts, coached by Bill Castle, were 15-0, Class 5A state champions and USA Today national champions, and outscored their opponents 629-93. Lakeland’s closest regular season game was a 31-14 victory over Winter Haven. Its only close playoff game was a 28-21 state semifinal victory over Niceville. The Dreadnaughts defeated unbeaten St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) 39-10 in the state championship game.

December 04, 2007

100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years

Bemanuel_2 The list of the 100 greatest players in the state's history was released this afternoon.

As a member of the selection committee, I take great pride in this list. I'm sure there will be those who challenge individual members or ask why someone was not selected.

Trust me, this was an exhaustive process and there was great discussion on every person selected and on many who were bypassed. There were hours of conference calls, e-mails, research, etc. that went into this.

Please read over the list and comment on what you think.

QB: Danny Wuerffel, Fort Walton Beach; Daunte Culpepper Ocala Vanguard; David Bowden, Lakeland Kathleen; Eddie McAshan, Gainesville; George Mira, Key West; Jimmy Jordan, Tallahassee Leon; John Reaves, Tampa Robinson; Tim Tebow, Ponte Vedra Beach Nease.

Fb_100_c_2RB: Antone Smith, Pahokee; C.J. Spiller, Lake Butler Union County; Edgerrin James, Immokalee; Emmitt Smith, Pensacola Escambia; Earnest Graham, Cape Coral Mariner; Frank Gore, Coral Gables; Fred Taylor, Belle Glade Glades Central; James Massey, Jefferson County; John L. Williams, Palatka; Larry Smith, Tampa Robinson; Marquette Smith, Winter Park Lake Howell; Ottis Anderson, West Palm Beach Forest Hills; Rick Casares, Tampa Jefferson; Travis Henry, Frostproof; Tucker Frederickson, Hollywood South Broward; Tyrone Moss, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely; Willie Galimore, St. Augustine Murray.

WR: Andre Johnson, Miami Senior; Anthony Carter, Riviera Beach Suncoast; Darrell Jackson, Tampa Catholic; Harold Carmichael, Jacksonville Northwestern/Raines; Jesse Hester, Glades Central; Joe Goldsmith, Lakeland Kathleen; Kenny Burrough, Jacksonville Raines; Matt Frier, Live Oak Suwannee; Michael Irvin, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas; Ron Sellers, Jacksonville Paxon. TE Claude Moorman, Miami Senior.

OL: Burton Lawless, Punta Gorda Charlotte County; David Williams, Lakeland; Forest Blue, Tampa Chamberlain; Henry Lawrence, Palmetto Lincoln; Jeff Faine, Sanford Seminole; Larry Brown, Starke Bradford County; Larry Gagner, Daytona Beach Seabreeze; Larry Little, Miami Washington; Lomas Brown, Miami Norland; Noah Jackson, Jacksonville Beach Fletcher; Stefan Humphries, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas; Steve Hutchinson, Coral Springs; Williams Roberts, Miami Carol City.

DL: Corey Simon, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely; David "Deacon" Jones, Eatonville Hungerford; Don Latimer, Fort Pierce Central; Eddie Edwards, Fort Pierce Central; Eddie Weaver, Haines City; Gerard Warren, Lake Butler Union County; Jack Youngblood, Monticello Jefferson County; Jerome Brown, Brooksville Hernando County; Jim Osborne, Fort Lauderdale Dillard; Marty Lyons, St. Petersburg Catholic; Ted Hendricks, Hialeah; Ted Washington, Tampa Bay Tech; Vince Wilfork, Lantana Santaluces.

LB: Barry Krauss, Pompano Beach; Derrick Brooks, Pensacola Washington; Lamont Green, Miami Southridge; Marvin Jones, Miami Northwestern; Ralph Ortega, Coral Gables; Ray Lewis, Lakeland Kathleen; Ricky Jackson, Pahokee; Scot Brantley, Ocala Forest; Steve Kiner, Tampa Hillsborough; Wilber Marshall, Titusville Astronaut.

DB: Barry Hill, Delray Beach Carver; Bennie Blades, Sunrise Piper; Bobby Butler, Delray Beach Atlantic; Brian Dawkins, Jacksonville Raines; Deion Sanders, North Fort Myers; Ken Riley, Bartow Union Academy; Lemar Parrish, Riviera Beach Kennedy; Leroy Butler, Jacksonville Lee; Lito Sheppard, Jacksonville Raines; Reggie Nelson, Palm Bay; Sam Madison, Tallahassee FAMU; Samari Rolle, Miami Beach; Sean Taylor, Miami Gulliver Prep; Steve Tannen, Southwest Miami.

KS/ATH: Pat Summerall, Lake CityColumbia; John Carney, West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman.

ATH: Anquan Boldin, Pahokee (QB/WR/DB); Arnold Tucker, Miami Senior (QB/DB); Cyril Pinder, Hollywood Crispus Attucks; Devin Hester, Riviera Beach Suncoast; James Jones, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely (TE/LB/KR); Jammi German, Fort Myers (WR/DB/KR); Leon Bright, Merritt Island; Michael Timpson, Hialeah Miami Lakes (RB/WR/KR); Tommie Frazier, Bradenton Manatee (QB/KR); Warren Sapp, Apopka (TE/LB/DL); Wes Chandler, New Smyrna Beach (RB/WR/KR); Dale Van Sickel, Gainesville.

Bios on each player