« April 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

52 posts from May 2008

May 15, 2008

Pines Charter finishes at No. 4

After an undefeated start and five weeks at the top, Pembroke Pines Charter fell to No. 4 in USA Today's softball rankings after losing the 4A title game to Naples on Saturday. The Jaguars ended the season 30-1.

Naples jumped into the top 25, grabbing the final spot. Palmetto, which won the 6A championship by beating Palm Beach Gardens on Saturday, was listed in the "also receiving consideration" category.

(These rankings aren't final, though, as most other states haven't finished their seasons.)

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

Northwest Christian making a comback

It was the summer of 1982 when I first met Derwin Jones, a larger than life athlete at Miami's Northwest Christian School. As he walked out to practice, it was hard to tell whether he was a coach or a player. He was huge, athletic looking and a very nice young man.

On the day I went to see Jones, 22 college coaches had settled in off N.W. 135th St. to get a look at a rare major college prospect at a school that had its share of talent, but nothing like this impressive student/athlete. He would go on to star at the University of Miami, proving that school size had little bearing in the state of Florida.

Over 20 years have gone by, and while Jones, who was a starter on the 1987 team that finished 12-0, has tragically passed on, his memory is still very much alive on this campus.

While the names and faces have changed, the objective is still the same. Those who remembered what Jones represented at this school, understand that while football is important, it's life and the lessons that you learn, that still takes center stage.

At a time when this program has hit a rocky road, losing 19 of the last 20 games (including 0-10 last year), things may be looking up for second year coach David Chase and the Eagles. While they will play an intrasquad game at the school this Friday (1:30 p.m.) to rekindle school spirit, Chase, who has been at the school for 19 years and serves as the Youth Minister, knows that turning this once proud program around will take work.

This time of year, you can take your pick where to watch spring practices around South Florida. I choose not only to see a St. Thomas, Pahokee, Vero Beach, Northwestern and Naples, but also stop and open everyone's eyes to schools like Northwest Christian.

On Wednesday, before watching Miami Central's explosive Rockets, I stopped by to see what the Eagles have for the 2008 season, and while the numbers are low, the optimism is certainly high.

It's a small senior class, with two-way lineman Rashaad Ferdinand (6-5, 310), linebacker Christopher Maignan, center Carlos Mareira, three-sport speedster Johnny Jean-Pierre, offensive guard Jose Pereda, and running back/linebacker Cory Perry expected to step up and lead this program back.

"We are excited about the players in this program and at the school," Chase said. "All the coaches are employed at the school, which also helps out so much in the overall development of the program."

If the Eagles are going to get back into mix as a 1B power, the underclassmen will have plenty to say. Class of 2010 players such as quarterback/running back Anthony Carson, offensive lineman/tight end Evel Cevere, speedy running back Paul Georges finished fourth in the state in the 100, and tight end/defensive end Isaac Therlonge will need to make a contribution as well.

The Eagles get younger with Class of 2011 receiver Alain Alexandre, lineman Nickcason Joseph, two-way lineman Jermel Stuart and rising star athlete Herve Swaby (6-2, 180), who will make a contribution.

Chase also expects 2012 standouts Gerven Georges, running back/safety Courtney Roberts, defensive back/receiver Anthony Therlonge and tight end Fritzroy Wilkes (6-3, 160) to add depth. Even 6-1, 210-pound lineman Samuel Rogers is being talked about as a player for the present and the future. By the way, he is in the Class of 2013!

While Northwest Christian may not light the world on fire over the next year, you can expect to find coaches, administration and students who care about bringing the school back to what it once was, and the memory of Derwin Jones, even for the youngster who had never heard of him, should provide enough light and positive energy to follow.


May 14, 2008

A few signings...

This story in today's Herald highlighted a few signings from Archbishop McCarthy (which took place today at the school). Here's an updated list, with a couple of corrections/additions/updates:

  • Football: Carlos Gonzalez, Bridgewater (Va.); Billy Scott, Concordia (Wisc.).
  • Basketball: Jamar Gopie, Elms (Mass.); Jimmy Nolan, George Mason (walk-on); Mike Savery, Methodist (N.C.).
  • Baseball: Alan Avila, Nova Southeastern; Sal Costanzo, Vassar (N.Y.); Chris Turnio, Nova Southeastern.
  • Softball: Katie Mansilla, North Carolina St.; Alexa Martinez, Auburn.
  • Soccer: Matt Delisle, Stetson; Kelsey Dunning, St. Thomas; Christine Mastandrea, Ave Maria (Fla.).
  • Track: Andrew Deleo, Clemson; Alex Hueck, Mars Hill (N.C.); Gus Vazquez Milan, Kansas St.
  • Wrestling: Colby Borchetta, Michigan State.
  • Also, Armani Appolon (basketball/volleyball) and Jonathan Ramirez (football) still are undecided, according to the school.

Elsewhere in Broward, Cooper City basketball player Cayla Aaron will sign Monday with Fairmont (W.V.) State, a Division-II school that won the West Virginia Intercollegiate Conference's tournament last season and was ranked as high as 10th in D-II. She'll receive a full scholarship.

Congrats to these students, and athletes/parents/coaches/readers -- as always -- are encouraged to keep us posted on any other signing news.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 13, 2008

Spring sports' scholastic stars

The FHSAA has released the top spring-sports teams, GPA-wise, for 2008. In Broward, Archbishop McCarthy, Westminster Academy and Pine Crest stood out, while Gulliver Prep represented Dade.

South Florida's teams (all of those recognized have a combined GPA of 3.0 or higher):

  • Archbishop McCarthy: Baseball (3.071, fifth in 4A); Softball (3.100, sixth in 4A); Boys' Tennis (3.505, fourth in 1A); Boys' Track (3.215, fifth in 2A); Girls' Track (3.395, sixth in 2A).
  • Gulliver Prep: Softball (3.119, ninth in 3A); Boys' Lacrosse (3.138, fourth in single class); Boys' Water Polo (3.229, fifth in single class); Girls' Water Polo (3.205, eighth in single class); Boys' Tennis (3.010, eighth in 2A); Girls' Tennis (3.246, eighth in 2A); Boys' Track (3.160, seventh in 2A); Girls' Track (3.351, eighth in 2A).
  • Pine Crest: Baseball (3.343, second in 3A); Boys' Weightlifting (3.513, first in 1A).
  • Westminster Academy: Softball (3.388, fourth in 2A); Girls' Water Polo (3.767, first in single class); Boys' Tennis (3.783, first in 1A); Girls' Tennis (3.644, fourth in 1A); Girls' Track (3.611, third in 1A).

Winners (Pine Crest boys' weightlifting, Westminster Academy girls' water polo and boys' tennis) will receive a state championship plaque.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

Breaking news: Florida produces football talent

Nifty little time-waster, courtesy of USA Today: a database of every NFL draft pick since 1988, which can be sorted by, among other things, college, college state, college conference and high school state (based on the player's first high school).

How does Florida compare, high school-wise? Pretty well (surprise, surprise), with 565 draft picks -- third only to California (732) and Texas (592). On the other end, Maine and Vermont have produced exactly zero picks in those 21 years (but probably a decent hockey player or two).

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 12, 2008

Ely is on the rise – again!

While last year had plenty of ups and downs for coach James Jones and the Ely Tigers, this spring has brought a new enthusiasm to a program that has been one of the most productive through the years.

With the nation's top cornerback, Patrick Johnson, now moving on, the focus has been on one of the area's top prospect, Michael Carter, who has been looked at by schools such as Florida, West Virginia, Georgia, Miami, Georgia Tech and Minnesota, where his cousin Tyrone was a standout.

Last year, Carter had 35 tackles, 18 pass breakups, seven interceptions, and four defensive touchdowns.

While Carter is getting most of the attention, this is a program that certainly remains in the playoff hunt once again this season with players like Class of 2009 linebacker Brandon Sims and defensive end Malcolm Ricks, and Class of 2011 standout defensive lineman Akeem McCloud.

The Tigers have had their share of quality running backs through the years with players such as Tyrone Moss, Rod Baker, Nick Davis, Henri and Zack Crockett and Jones, who went to Florida and then made an impact with the Detroit Lions. One of the up-and-coming stars is 6-0, 205-pound Bobby Spencer reminds many fans of one-time standout Dou Innocent.

Don't forget that we will be following football recruiting year-round. We have some impressive coverage coming up with our Recruiting Team on the road every day.

May 11, 2008

Nick Williams still fighting -- and throwing

Donna Pappas had to put me on hold Sunday. And who could blame her? Turns out her son, Nick Williams, was expecting some more visitors.

Williams, the 16-year-old Cardinal Gibbons junior injured in a one-car wreck May 4, still is in the hospital, still heavily sedated and still on a respirator, according to Pappas. He has a fever and contracted pneumonia -- that's upsetting, Pappas said, but normal for a person in his condition -- but is showing some positive signs.

In fact, he even threw a pillow.

"He was going to kill a volleyball one way or another," Pappas joked.

More positives: Pappas said doctors hope to have Williams off the respirator in "a couple days," although they're not committing to anything just yet. Plus, there's still a ton of support, everything from flower bouquets to those visitors who keep flowing in -- everyone from Williams' chemistry teacher to his uncle, who Pappas said came in this weekend from Marin County, Calif.

And the word continues to spread about Williams, Pappas said, who wore No. 2 on the court this year.

"God willing, if he's able to play next year," she said, "I can assure you, it won't be like, 'Who's that No. 2, anyway?'"

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

ESPN love for 2 Patriots

They have bigger things to worry about -- at least in the short term -- with the 3A state baseball title on the line next week, but American Heritage first baseman/pitcher Eric Hosmer and catcher Adrian Nieto appeared on Keith Law's top 60 draft prospects list (available to Insiders only) on ESPN.com.

For non-Insiders: Hosmer came in at No. 5, also the second-rated high schooler on the list. Nieto is 39th.

Also, three University of Miami players -- St. Thomas' Dennis Raben (26th), Yonder Alonso (18th) and Jemile Weeks (30th) -- are top-60 players.

The draft is June 5-6.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

This has nothing to do with South Florida...

...but still a crazy story out of Texas: High schooler Bonnie Richardson single-handedly (and single-leggedly...or would it be double-leggedly?) won the University Interscholastic League's 1A girls' track team title this weekend, as the only qualified athlete from Rochelle High School.

Richardson's title march began with field events on Friday when she won the high jump (5 feet, 5 inches), placed second in the long jump (18-7) and was third in the discus (121-0).

On Saturday, she won the 200 meters in 25.03 seconds and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 100 before finishing second (12.19) to defending champion Kendra Coleman of Santa Anna. Richardson, a junior, earned a total of 42 team points to edge team runner-up Chilton (36).

It was a good thing the 1A events were split over two days because Richardson said the heat — temperatures were in the high 90s both days — might have knocked her down. She laughed off a suggestion that she could have won more if UIL rules didn't limit individual participation to five events.

"I don't think I could handle any more," she said. "It was hot and I was tired."

Needless to say, it took more than one athlete for the Southridge teams, the St. Thomas Aquinas boys and Westminster Academy boys to win their 2008 team titles.

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

May 10, 2008

Miami Palmetto wins 6A softball title

This is it. The final game of the 2008 softball season. Miami Palmetto faces Palm Beach Gardens at 4 p.m. for the Class 6A title in Plant City.
Remember to hit F5 for updates.

Kelly Saco pitching for Palmetto. Brittany Bowles pitching for PBG.

After one, no score.

Bowles walked one in the first and one in the second. After a sac bunt by Emily Stephens, runner on second with two out in the bottom of the second for Palmetto. Claire Rocawich struck out to end the inning. Still no score.

After three, still no score. Maybe this is the time for this reminder: PBG took 10 innings to win Friday night's semifinal. We may be here a while folks.

The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the fourth after back-to-back singles and errors. Courtney Ewing singled to shortstop Claire Rocawich, who fired high of first baseman Jackie Houk. Then Brittany Human singled to center, but Cristi Pardinas misplayed the ball, which allowed Ewing to score.

Palmetto retired in order in the fourth and still trails 1-0.

Saco worked out of trouble in the fifth after the first two players reached. She retired the final three batters to get out of the inning.

Palmetto was retired in order in the fifth. Bowles still has not allowed a hit. Did I jinx her?

Yes I did. Courtney Ray singled to right-center. Saco walked. Ray took third on a fielder's choice, but was stranded when Tiffany Mullins-Diaz struck out.

PBG leads 1-0 heading into the seventh.

Palmetto is up, trailing 1-0, bottom of seventh.

Palmetto has runners on second and third with two out. (Guzman reached on an error and Rocawich singled to left). Courtney Ray at bat. Ray draws an unintentional (yet intentional) walk.

Cristi Pardinas drew a bases loaded walk to tie the score. Saco flew out to left to end the inning. We're going to the eighth.

The Gators failed to score in the top of the eighth.

Guzman singles in the eighth, but does not score. Heading into the ninth (which ties the longest championship game in FHSAA softball).

Bottom of the ninth, still 1-1.

We have a record. This is now the longest championship game in the state's history. PBG draws a walk with two outs, but no score. Bottom of 10 is upcoming.

We're heading to the 11th. (Just wondering: Is anyone reading this?)

Palm Beach Gardens loaded the bases in the 11th on a single by Kelsey Hensel and walks by Kaylie Wallace and Haley Fleming. Saco got Brittany Ewing to strike out to end the inning.

Bowles retires the side in the bottom of the 11th. We're heading to the 12th.

Theoretical question -- If I keep typing and no one is reading this, does it matter if I keep typing?

If you're reading this, please send food. The media is starving in the press box and the food ran out hours ago. Drinks would be helpful too. All that is left is some Gatorade that's been in a cooler for six hours and the ice has melted. We're hungry and thirsty. Help!

Gardens loads the bases with none out int he 12th. Uh oh. Could be trouble for Palmetto.

Wow. Unbelievable.

Bootsie Roesch grounded to Saco, who fired home to get the lead runner. Catcher Amanda Marquez threw out the runner at third for the double play. Saco then got Hensel to pop out to first to end the inning. We're now going to the bottom of the 12th (where I predict the game will end).

And thank you to my readers - TR, CJ Radi, Anxiously awaiting and Bobby. How's that for some shout outs?

Courtney Ray reached on a two-out single and stole second. Pardinas at bat. Pardinas walks. Saco at bat. Saco sends a bouncer to shortstop Bootsie Roesch who boots it. Ray scores. Palmetto is the champ.