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52 posts from May 2008

May 31, 2008

Statement game? For NMB and Northwestern, a telling result

If it's possible to make a statement in spring football, North Miami Beach did that Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium by completely dismantling defending national champion Northwestern 25-0.

Larry Blustein (who posted several details in an earlier blog below), J.T. Wilcox, Charles Fishbein, Bill Daley and I were among the media that watched the game from the sideline and marveled as the Chargers looked sharp from the beginning with quarterback Nico Flores connecting on a 75-yard pass that set up a touchdown pass to Yves Desir, one of Flores' 3 TDs on the night.

NMB's defense ripped through the NW o-line and put pressure on quarterback Wayne Times through most of the game.
The Chargers also exhibited a prolific running game led by Class of 2010 RB Nick Williams.

Williams racked up over 80 yards and WR/DB Kemal Ishmael caught two of the touchdown passes later in the game, and kept the Bulls' receivers in check on defense.

Ishmael even did something unheard of at NMB in recent years - convert an extra point.

"That might be the last one you see for a while," NMB coach Jeff Bertani said, after his team missed the next try, which made the score 13-0.

Bertani was extremely proud with his team's effort after the game, and he should be.

In typical Chargers' fashion, Bertani had 29 players in uniform Friday night. And once again, numbers meant nothing as those 29 had their way with the Bulls.

Granted, it is still the end of May, but for Northwestern's sake, this better have been a fluke. If it hopes to keep its record 30-game winning streak intact much longer, they need to play better up front.

The quarterback play wasn't great, but it could have been helped with better protection. Times had open receivers down field, but was constantly forced out of the pocket. Teddy Bridgewater came in toward the end of the 3rd quarter and made some nice plays with his feet. He looks like a promising athletic player for the future.

Bottom line, NW got beat badly at the line of scrimmage on both sides. The absence of graduated stars Terrell Killings and Brandon Washington was noticeable. On defense, the young players still had their moments, though. Defensive lineman Todd Chandler looks like the playmaker Bulls' fans expect him to be and the secondary made some big plays later in the game.

We knew the Bulls were going to be a lot younger, any one will be hurting after losing the enormous amount of talent they lost to graduation.

But if this game was a serious indication of where this team is at, then in the next 3 months, they need to get tougher and quicker up front to stand up to teams that will likely respect their passing game less, now that Jacory Harris is at the U.

As for the Chargers, this team is looking like a title contender again. It's almost like Bertani brings them off an assembly line. Youngsters like Ricky Desir (2011) and Williams give Charger fans a reason to think the trend will continue in years to come.

They were solid, disciplined and still a force to be reckoned with in what will be a tough Region 3-6A. While everyone is talking about Deerfield Beach and Cypress Bay and Miramar in Broward, the team that has gone 5-1 vs. Broward the past 2 years in the playoffs is alive and well. And with more parity in Dade County than the past three seasons, they look strong enough to make their best run yet.

National champs beaten, 25-0!

Nearly 6,000 fans came to watch the next chapter in Northwestern football on Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium, but what most saw instead was North Miami Beach, a team with just 32 players dressed, rout the Bulls, 25-0, in a game that wasn’t as close as the store indicated.

The Chargers, 12-1 a year ago, took it to the Bulls from the start, using top-rated senior quarterback Nico Flores, who shredded the young Northwestern defense for nearly 300 yards. Underexposed receiver Kemal Ishmael came up with 2 TD receptions and was all over the field.

Coach Jeff Bertani, who we profiled a few weeks back, had his team ready all spring, and in the process, showed that the Chargers will be one of the best 6A teams in the state. Nobody at the game on Friday would argue with how impressive NMB looked.

Here are a few observations from both sides. First of all, the Bulls lost a lot of weapons. They will be better in the fall because there are a few players who could impact the team who were not dressed on Friday.

Senior safety Tevin McCaskill needs work. Right now, he lacks leadership qualities, and this team really needs that. The running game will be solid with Tyresse Jones, Daquan Hargrett and junior Corvin Lamb, and while Wayne Times has the experience at QB, you can guarantee that he will be moved to WR some time in the next few months, opening the way for Class of 2011 standout Teddy Bridgewater (6-3, 170). Receivers Tyrell Lewis and Michaelee Harris are solid.

The OL will be okay with Class of 2010 standouts Torrian Wilson (6-5, 320) and Donald Senat (6-3, 250), and Class of 2009 player Shkendrick Williams (6-3, 260).

Class of 2010 defensive lineman Todd Chandler (6-1, 280) is short and you question what will happen when he has to bang heads with ACC or SEC offensive linemen who are big and athletic as well. But he is a playmaker and is very young.

NMB has Flores, who is the best senior quarterback in Miami. He and Ishmael make up a small senior class that also includes defensive back Yves Desin, receiver Johnathan Cyprien, linebacker Antonio Rogers, linebacker/running back Markeith Russell and lineman Maurice Anderson.

The Chargers are loaded in the Classes of 2010 with receiver Terrance Kinchen, running back Nicolas Williams, and lineman Jiovanni Maldanado and Alex Eduaord.

The Class of 2011 appears to be the strength of this team, which points to the fact that the Chargers will be around for a long time.

Versatile (receiver/quarterback/defensive back) Ritchy Desir, linebackers Max Dorsainvil, Keeon Virgile and Kinley Moise, linemen Freddy Lagueere, Akeem Banton, Cleveland Smith, Wesley Joseph, Jovens Francois and Travis Turner are all quality as well.

LARRY BLUSTEIN

FloridaKids1@hotmail.com

May 30, 2008

ESPN's Law: Hosmer No. 3 to Royals

With the MLB draft approaching (June 5-6), mock drafts are proliferating. ESPN.com's Keith Law released his first-round projections Friday, projecting American Heritage first baseman (and possible pitching prospect) Eric Hosmer as the No. 3 overall pick to the Kansas City Royals.

Here's what Law wrote in his Insiders-only mock about Hosmer, predicted to be the top prep player picked:

The Royals had sworn off Scott Boras clients after a tough negotiation with Mike Moustakas last summer, but they apparently have decided to have just one more for the road after seeing Hosmer's tremendous upside as a hitter. (They can quit any time.) Brian Matusz also is a consideration here.

Hosmer is the only South Florida high school product projected among the top 30 picks, although Law recently suggested in a blog post that Hosmer's teammate, catcher Adrian Nieto, could go right after:

The Mets are very interested in American Heritage (Fla.) catcher Adrian Nieto, a switch-hitter who has a strong arm and projects to hit for power. Nieto could go in the sandwich round, where he has several suitors, and shouldn't last beyond the second round.

As for Braddock shortstop Harold Martinez, though, the news wasn't as good:

Braddock (Fla.) shortstop Harold Martinez didn't play well on the first day of the Sebring high school showcase on Friday; his swing has gotten longer and he was struggling with routine plays in the field. He also looks a little bit heavier than he did last summer, when he was one of the best players at the AFLAC All-American game.

(Meanwhile, on the Canes front, Law had Yonder Alonso going sixth to the hometown Marlins, but did not have highly touted Jemile Weeks among the first 30 picks.)

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

Doing the Hokey Pahokee

PAHOKEE -- OK, fine, ignore the title of this post. The real headline is, with our expanded recruiting coverage (now including Palm Beach County), I caught Thursday night's spring game between Dwyer and Pahokee, featuring a number of potential college recruits.

Here are some observations from a game the Blue Devils won 18-7, with fans sporting brand new t-shirts commemorating last year's state championship (and, on the back in big, white lettering, their No. 6 USA Today ranking -- higher than 4A champion Booker T. Washington's No. 8):

  • Pahokee's Nu'Keese Richardson, one of the top recruits in the county (at receiver) played a lot at quarterback and showed some passing prowess, even threading the needle on a 5-yard touchdown toss in the third quarter. But his size (5-8) and athleticism seem like they will push him to that receiver slot.
  • On defense, another standout recruit -- linebacker Brandon Hawthorne -- had about a dozen solo tackles and picked up a half a sack late in the fourth quarter. He also punted, but spring games don't allow for any rushes or returns on those plays, so it was hard to tell how good he is there. (Not that his future as a punter outweighs his future on defense...)
  • For Dwyer, running back Donald Russell didn't get many carries, but broke a couple of big ones in the second half, showing off his size and power.
  • Bradley Wallace, a highly regarded safety prospect, split some snaps at quarterback with underclassman Jacoby Brissett in an attempt to ease Wallace's load.
  • Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said offensive line prospect John Bivins no longer is on the team.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 29, 2008

Watch the heat

A 15-year-old football player died in Irvine, Calif., on Wednesday. And although this seemed to be from an apparent asthma attack, it brings to mind all the heat-related illnesses that come as spring turns to summer.

Such a death also occurred yesterday, at North Carolina A&T. Most infamously, it happened with Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer. And it's definitely something to watch out for as the temperatures rise on tracks and fields everywhere, especially in South Florida.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 27, 2008

A national championship?

Much was made at the Herald's All-Broward breakfast last Thursday about American Heritage's possible "national championship" in baseball, after the Patriots won the 3A title last Tuesday.

So, with no official national championship in high school baseball, did American Heritage join Miami Northwestern football in winning that "mythical national title"?

Here's a rankings roundup, as of Tuesday afternoon:

  • Baseball America: No. 1 in their nearly month-old rankings (April 29), although it's hard to believe the Patriots did much to unseat themselves at the top.
  • USA Today: No. 1, as of Monday, the biggest rankings win for the Patriots after their title.
  • RISE Magazine: No. 1, as of last week (before they won the title).
  • MaxPreps.com: No. 2, curiously behind Georgetown (Texas), which has a 22-7 overall record.
  • Rivals.com: No. 4, as of May 21; expect that one to go up.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

Edison has the talent to challenge in 2008

There was a time, a few years back, when Edison was in the hunt for the playoffs every year. After coach Corey Bell left for the University of Miami, the program began to change, looking for a new direction.

The Red Raiders have found that direction with a young coaching staff that believes in discipline, and after last Friday's 14-2 win over South Miami, this is certainly a program that will remain in the mix with Monsignor Pace and Belen in the district.

While there is plenty of talent for the future (Classes 2010 and 2011), the rising senior class is certainly impressive as well.

The Class of 2009 starts with receivers Larry McCoy (6-0, 170), Kenzer Obando (5-11, 160) and Danny Kenol (6-0, 170), running back Paul Johnson (5-11, 175), quarterback Donovan Jackson (6-2, 175) and lineman Willy Rutherford (6-3, 270).

On the defensive side of the ball, the Red Raiders show plenty of improvement with linebackers Rashad Bryant (5-11, 185), David Hinds (6-1, 205), Chauncey Grace (5-10, 180), Labaze Jackson (6-0, 175), Jesper Jean (5-11, 160) and talented Hassan Williams (6-3, 225).

In the secondary, Edison boasts Phillip Thomas (6-0, 180), Abraham Gedeus (5-9, 170), Kerntz Almonor (5-10, 165), Gregory Peguero (5-10, 165) and standout Kevin Augustin (5-11, 190).

There are also linemen Brandon Dunn (6-2, 180), Lavar Brihm (5-11, 180), Darren Baldwin (6-1, 205), Allen Myrthil (6-0, 190), Patrick Tema (6-1, 180), Richard Stuckey (5-10, 220), George Goodman (5-10, 200) and 6-3, 230-pound Brian Proctor, who happens to be the nephew of former Edison and University of Miami standout, Basil Proctor.

The Class of 2010, the rising juniors, are also a group that many believe will help this program turn the corner.

On offense, receivers Darius Johnson (6-3, 170), Richard Tema (5-10, 155) and Hyawatha Joyner (5-10, 160), fullback Solomon Jordan (5-7, 175), running back Jensky Mezadieu (5-8, 150) and impressive linemen Kenneth Howard (5-11, 275), Thomas Bapiste (5-10, 255), Charles Chancellor (6-2, 260), Lionel Valery (6-0, 265), Junior Genoise (6-0, 250), Christopher Gay (6-3, 275), Ronald Bruno (5-10, 280), David Stohclin (6-1, 345).

Defensively, Dion Hanks (5-10, 175), Reginald Evans (5-8, 155), Findjy Dorval (5-8, 155) are quality secondary performers. Linemen Wade Issac (6-2, 240), Michael Descollines (5-10, 177) and Winston Alexis (6-2, 220) are also athletes who will add quality depth.

If you want to make this coaching staff happy, talk about his 2011 players, who are all impressive.

Leading the way is promising running back Devonta Freeman, a 5-10, 170-pounder, who is the next great football player in South Florida. He is joined by fellow running back Corie Wilson (5-10, 170), defensive back Andrew Ranglin (5-10, 175), defensive end William Clayton (5-10, 175), and defensive tackles Dario George (5-10, 190) and Timothy Dunn (5-10, 200).

LARRY BLUSTEIN
FloridaKids1@hotmail.com

May 25, 2008

Cypress Bay impressive in Blue-White game

With a regular season game at national power Katy (Texas) in October, a district that has one of the nation’s top quarterbacks (Eugene Smith) and a region that includes powers Deerfield Beach, Miramar, North Miami Beach, Miami Central, Columbus and defending national champion Northwestern, Cypress Bay fired the first warning this spring that the Lightning will be ready to play - anyone!

As spring came to an end on Saturday at the ‘Bay with a White/Blue contest, dozens of college coaches, media outlets and fan recruiting websites were on hand with a few hundred fans as the state’s largest school showed off some 2009, 2010 and even 2011 players.

As head coach Mark Guandolo and his staff capped off a solid spring, the fans had the opportunity to watch this impressive football team for the first time, and all on hand who braved 90-plus degree temperatures were treated to a show and a post-game barbecue.

This is a team that is more than the marquee players such as senior linebackers Shane Gordon, Phil Walker and Austin Gamble. The Lightning have more talent than standout defensive back Carl Miles and speedy running back Jason Douglas. What Guandolo has been able to put together in the over a year since taking the job is a team that will be in the mix for a 6A state title.

With many programs down across the region and the state, this is the perfect year for Cypress Bay to play sound football and pull the ultimate surprise - a state title!

The Class of 2009 is impressive on offense with backup quarterback Brandon Yassis, receivers Corey McCabe, Chadsworth Barnes, Joshua Riffel and Max Vasquez. There is also tight end David Martin.

In addition to Douglas and Gordon, who also plays in the offensive backfield, the running game also includes Omar Cabrera, Vincent Mantuo and fullback Craig Dee. The line is very talented with prospects Leslie Tripp, Patrick Ferrero, Matthew Fainer and Kolton Galimba. Kickers Luke Bray and Steven Faucher will also be among the best.

Defensively, the Class of 2009 has Gordon, Walker, Gamble and Miles, but also includes linemen Josh Kelso, Jules Gomez and Laurent Sventz. There are also defensive backs Lance Harstadt, Eddy Cabrera, Angel Corchado and hard-hitting Amari Sapp. Linebackers Anthony Guerra and Miles Doleman add plenty of depth.

The Class of 2010 starts to show just how talented this team will be.

On offense, quarterback Zach Green will be a three-year starter. Running backs David McKnight, Marcus Mason, Bryton Weathers and Collin Robinson add to an already impressive Wing-T attack. There are also receivers Kelby Cox and Juan Gomez.

The offensive line prospects for both 2010 and 2011 has set the table for the future. Joseph McNamara may be one of the nation’s elite prospects who is aggressive, 6-3, 280 and is cat-quick. Others on the line include Roland Gallegos, Christopher Valdes and Jerimiah Nelson.

On defense, the Class of 2010 is in great hands with lineman Kane Connor, linebackers Juan Montoya-Galofrey and Michael Mancino, and defensive backs Alexander Dahl, Alexander Haddad, Damien Brown and Kareem Auguste, who’s brother, Akeem, played for Guandolo at Chaminade-Madonna. Kicker Derek Soven will also add to the competition.

Even the Class of 2011 will make a contribution on the 2008 team. Talented linemen Kyle Jossfolk and Russell James-Haughton will play key roles. So will linebacker Nick Fleming and Enzo Nitto, and defensive linemen Brandon Schoenthal and Grant Burke.

There are other players who were out with injuries in the spring who will also help this team.

LARRY BLUSTEIN

FloridaKids1@hotmail.com

May 24, 2008

Showing their medal

Sometimes sportsmanship stories can get a little overblown. Perfect example: the nation's slightly excessive fascination last month with the story of the Western Oregon University softball player who was carried around the basepaths by her opponents.

But this one -- also out of the Pacific Northwest -- will be tough to beat, mostly because it involves a different kind of personal sacrifice: a state championship medal.

According to the story, Bellarmine (Wash.) Prep senior Nicole Cochran had just won the 3,200-meter Class 4A state title, setting a personal best (10:36) in the process. Soon after, though, she was disqualified for taking three consecutive steps along the inside line of the track. Andrea Nelson of Shadle Park High School in Spokane, who finished four seconds back, was declared the champion.

Then (from ESPN.com)...

The awards ceremony took place, then Nelson got off the awards stand, walked over to Cochran, removed the first-place medal from around her neck and draped it over Cochran's.

"It's your medal," Nelson said to her, the Tri-City Herald reported. "You're the state champion."

The rest of the top eight finishers then held an impromptu ceremony of their own. Exchanging their medals -- Nelson received the second-place medal, Sarah Lord of Redmond High School took the third-place medal, and so on.

"That's not how you win state," Nelson said. "She totally deserves it. She crushed everybody."

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 23, 2008

St. Thomas simply reloads, once again

Just when you thought it was safe to assume that it would be a tough task to ask the St. Thomas Aquinas football to repeat its 5A state championship run from 2007, spring practice rolled around. There aren’t many asking that question - today!

After nearly a month of sorting out who stayed and which players graduated, coach George Smith and the Raiders slowly filled holes on both sides of the ball.

Closing the book on the spring with annual Blue vs. Gold scrimmage game in front of college coaches, media and recruiting services on Thursday (May 22) at the beautiful, homey confines.

Class of 2009 returnees are led by quarterback Ryan Becker (6-0, 175), and also include running back Beau Bucci (5-9, 170), gifted receivers Duron Carter (6-2, 170) and Dwayne Difton (6-1, 180), and promising tight end prospect Gabe Holmes (6-5, 220). There are also impressive linemen such as Ryan Mousley (6-3, 270), Kevin O’Connell (6-3, 250), highly-regarded transfer Thomas Pizzurro (6-3, 280) and converted tight end, Dylan Drake (6-2, 200).

On the defensive side, the class is impressive as well with lineman Jean Luc Charles (5-11, 230) and William Nesselt (6-3, 240). There is also linebacker Conor O’Neill (6-1, 190), who was an All-Herald Broward County first team football and baseball, and emerging safety prospect Dezman Southward (6-1, 200).

The Raiders may have one of the nation’s elite punters in Benjamin Turk, a Tim Conrad-trained athlete, who has a chance to average in the high 40s this season.

While the senior class has leadership and talent, the underclassmen at St. Thomas are what make this program one to be in the mix for at least the next two years - and beyond!

The Class of 2010 starts on offense with major college running back prospect Giovanni Bernard (5-9, 195) and James White (5-11, 180), and promising speedster Ethan Grant (5-9, 170). Moving to the line, it’s apparent that this is where it will continue to be successful with gifted prospects Brandon Linder (6-4, 280) and Jermaine Barton, a 6-7, 320-pounder.

On defense, linebacker Vinnie Mauro (6-1, 195), cornerbacks Abayomi Ayoola (5-9, 175), Vladimir Rock (5-8, 160) and Cody Riggs (5-10, 170), who is the son of former NFL standout Gerald Riggs, and safeties Brian Robinson (6-0, 180) and physical Reynaldo Kirton (6-1, 180) showcase enormous athletic ability.

The Raiders are also equipped in the Class of 2011 with impressive defensive lineman Kenny Hankerson (5-11, 200), and quarterbacks Jacob Rudock (5-10, 160) and promising varsity newcomer Brent Armitage. Hankerson is a converted running back.

Another Conrad-coached special, kicker Michael Palardy, is one of the best, young specialists in the country - already!

Could it be Lakeland-St. Thomas 4? The Raiders appear to be headed back to the state finals - yet again.