The top Division 3 college football team in the country has been receiving help from a number of local players.
Powerhouse Mount Union, which moved to 7-0 last weekend with a convincing 55-0 win over Wilmington, sits atop the D3 national poll again this week, and the Sunshine State is providing a few players to help this impressive Alliance, Ohio school.
On the Raiders' roster are 12 Florida players – 3 varsity performers from South Florida. Sophomore Madison Fernandez (5-7, 155) from Hialeah, junior safety Kristopher Claros (6-0, 190) from Miramar and Pahokee sophomore running Willie Jenkins (5-9, 200) have made a contribution for coach Larry Kehres and his team.
The Raiders also have a number of freshmen on the team, including quarterback Branden Allen (6-2, 172, Parkway Academy), defensive end DaRon Brown (6-2, 210, St. Thomas), linebackers Arthur Smith (5-11, 200, Killian) and Jorge Carbonell (5-10, 210, Archbishop Carroll), defensive back Woodley Leonard (6-0, 183, Ferguson), and receivers Trevor Lilly (6-0, 190, Ferguson) and Chris Michael (5-10, 175, St. Thomas).
Mount Union will take on John Carroll this week.
One of the top teams in community college football this season has been Harper College of Palatine, Ill. The Hawks (8-1) defeated Rock Valley on Saturday, 31-7, and with losses by two teams ahead of them in the National Junior College Football Poll, is expected to move to within the top seven in the nation.
Despite the loss to Iowa Central College a few weeks back, this is a team, under head coach Dragan Teonic, that has been impressive. One of the players who has helped this team on offense is former Cooper City and Boyd Anderson running back Rithner Jean-Baptiste (5-9, 214).
Through the first nine games, Jean-Baptiste has over 300 yards rushing, scored 3 touchdowns and caught 19 passes (14.6 yard per catch average) for a program that won the national title back in 2003 and 2004.
Jean-Baptiste burst on the scene as a promising sophomore at Cooper City, was injured his junior year before finishing at Boyd Anderson for his final season.
"Rithner is doing such a tremendous job for us," said Teonic. "He is what we strive for on this team – a balance between athletics and academics."
OVERSTREET IN OVERDRIVE
Former Ely and St. Thomas defensive lineman Chris Overstreet is getting serious about playing the sport. Not only has the 6-foot-2 prospect lost 50 pounds (down to 336), but he has 39 tackles, 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in nine games for North Carolina Tech prep school in Charlotte.
Schools such as LSU have shown interest with a 5.23 (40), a 455 bench and 605 squat. he also power cleaned 295 pounds.
When Mike Virden came to Douglas High School last year from Idaho, he brought with him a recipe for success. A year after leading the Eagles two rounds deep in the playoffs, Virden left to accept a head coaching job at Ellsworth College Iowa Falls, Ia. and is doing the job most expected this rising coaching star to do.
Through the first seven games, Ellsworth is 5-2, losing to Air Force Academy JC and Harper last week, 47-43, with 40 seconds left. ECC hasn’t qualified for a bowl game in 5 years, but find themselves ranked 20th nationally and second in offense.
At the center of the turnaround are 13 South Florida freshmen, which include Coconut Creek products Quintin Robinson, who has broken the single season and single game receiving records for ECC and rank near the top in NJCAA, and quarterback Tirrell Rennie, who has been very explosive, leading the conference and has been named Player of the Week.
Here are the South Floridians helping Ellsworth turn the corner:
Jonathan Aiken, WR, 6-4, 190, Piper
Tyrell Austin, RB, 5-10, 160, South Plantation
Travis Cox, DB, 6-0, 170, South Plantation
Matt Harvey, DB, 5-11, 165, Douglas
Johnnie Lloyd, WR, 6-0, 170, Piper
Kordale Norris, OL, 6-4, 275, Fort Lauderdale
Campbell O'Brian, DB, 6-0, 185, South Broward
Jacob Peterson, LB, 6-2, 235, Delray Atlantic
Tirrell Rennie, QB, 5-10, 175, Coconut Creek
Quintin Robinson, WR, 6-3, 180, Coconut Creek
Markinley St. Fort, DB, 5-11, 170, Piper
Aaron Strumski, DL, 6-3, 280, South Broward
Thaad Thompson, DB, 6-2, 190, Coral Springs Charter
KEEPING UP WITH JONES
Before there was Jacory Harris at Northwestern, the Bulls rode the arm and legs of talented Eldrin Jones. Now a sophomore, Jones has emerged as one of the top junior college quarterbacks on the west coast, leading the way for Pasadena City College.
Jones has completed 63 percent of his passes for 800 yards and 9 touchdowns. He sat out parts of two games with an injury.
Jones is joined on the team by other Floridians such as receivers Owen Dixon and Matt Stokeling (Killian), and defensive back Derek Mack (Northwestern).
Once again, if you have athletes from the region you want us to know about, just let me know and we will make sure to spread the great word!
There's little doubt that Willie Williams has always had the ability to play against anyone, and despite his many problems in the past, the one-time Monsignor Pace and Carol City standout linebacker has found a way to keep on moving forward – even if the school is small and the crowds are even smaller.
Far from the city traffic of South Florida, Williams, a starting linebacker for No. 14 Union College (6-2) in Barbourville, K.Y., is turning plenty of heads, and showing NFL scouts that he still has the same talent that brought him so much fame before signing with the University of Miami.
On Thursday, in a 33-27 loss to No. 25 Shorter (Ga.) College, Williams recorded a school-record 22 tackles with two going for a loss of 4 yards and a forced fumble.
Williams now has 105 tackles on the season, becoming the 11th player in program history to record 100 tackles in a season. His 105 stops ranks sixth in program history. His team still has three regular season games left before the playoffs.
As we continue following recruiting in the state of Florida, we don’t want to forget our high school graduates who are now attending community colleges across the country. It is our way of not losing track of our greatest natural resource - our Florida kids!
The last image most had of Alwan Lee was one during perhaps the greatest offensive performance put on by a quarterback in South Florida. Lee and his Booker T. Washington team fell short to Seffner Armwood a few times during his career, but the game that saw Lee put up over 400 yards of offensive and almost took down the Hawks by himself, was one that everyone remembers.
While Lee was to accept a scholarship to play at USF, things never worked out for this talented athlete, forcing him to start over in California at Yuba Community College, where he is joined by a number of teammates from BTW such as Lester Hundley, Ladeven Kirkland, Deivon Tate and Anthony White.
“I am looking at a few schools, but would like to come back to Florida,” said Lee. “I have done well out here and the competition is really impressive, but after this year, I am looking to land at a D1A school back east.”
Lee, a sophomore, is still playing quarterback as well as receiver and making a solid impact, which has added to his already quality resume.
When Ryan Leggett was at St. Thomas Aquinas, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as the Wesley Carroll era lasted three season before the talented quarterback went on to Mississippi St. and led the Bulldogs to a bowl win over UCF.
While he had very few snaps for the Raiders, the 6-2, 190-pounder was in search of a chance to show what he could do as a starter. He found that opportunity at San Jose City College, where he starts and coaches believe that he has a very good opportunity to be a D1 college prospect.
Last Saturday, his team beat Hartnell College, 27-6 in the conference opener. In that game, Leggett went 16 of 27 for 205 yards, 1 TD and no picks.
If you have an athlete who is playing at a community college, D2, D3 or NAIA program that gets little exposure, let me know and we’ll let everyone back home know that we are still tracking the players.
Andre and I will have another edition of The Countdown for you. But for those of you who haven't been able to tune in to The Miami Dolphins High School Football Show yet on Saturday nights on My TV-33, here's a link to all of the episodes over at CBS-4.com.
Andre and I preview this week's big showdowns -- NMB-Carol City, Everglades-Miramar, Gables-Columbus, Gulliver-Archbishop Carroll and Plantation-Boyd Anderson -- and give your our picks. If you want to see previous episodes, our Herald Picks portion usually come out in Part 4 of each episode.
When Fort Scott Community College beat Highland last Saturday, 39-0, it marked the fourth consecutive shutout for the nation's No. 4 rated community college football team.
With 5 shutouts in the first six games, the 6-0 Greyhounds, who compete in the Kansas Jayhawk Conference, boast a couple of locals, who have helped pave the way for a team that is looking a lot like a program ready to challenge for a national title.
Rated behind Navarro of Texas, Snow (Utah) and Butler Community College (Kansas), the Greyhounds' defense features Northwestern freshman safety Lavonte David (6-0, 201) and Deerfield Beach standout defensive end Jason Paul-Pierre, a 6-6, 255-pounder, who is regarded as one of the best sophomores in the country.
David was a part of the past two state championship teams for the Bulls.
The Kansas Jayhawk Conference also boasts local players:
BUTLER: Leroy Smith, DB, 6-2, 200, Fr., Southridge.
COFFEYVILLE: Jacky Candy, S, 6-0, 185, So, Stranahan; Deshon Daniels, RB, 5-10, 195, Fr., Southridge; Andrew Joseph, WR, 5-9, 165, Fr., Royal Palm Beach.
DODGE CITY: Jamarcus Ballard, DB, 6-1, 205, Fr., Coconut Creek; Yannic George, DB, 5-10, 185, Fr., Miramar; Jean Julmiste, WR, 6-3, 190, Fr., Miramar; William Orr, LB, 6-0, 190, Fr., Pahokee; Jabar Westerman, DL, 6-2, 290, Fr., Deerfield Beach.
Duke couldn't beat the University of Miami last Saturday, but it won a recruiting battle for another one of the top players in the Canes' backyard.
Cypress Bay linebacker Austin Gamble, who visited the Blue Devils this past weekend, decided Sunday Duke is where he wants to play college football. The 6-1, 230-pound senior is considered the ninth-best recruit in Broward this season by The Miami Herald and a consensus Top 50 inside linebacker by Rivals and Scout.com. "Duke is making big strides," Gamble said. " They had a couple seasons where they didn't win a game, but they've done a lot better, especially with some guys from down here. A lot of people say Coach [David] Cutliffe and his work ethic are going to change things. I want to be a part of it."
Gamble said he's passing on offers from Louisville, Pittsburgh, FIU and Mississippi State because he likes the academics at Duke, too.
Gamble is the second commitment from South Florida for the Blue Devils, who start have five players on their current roster from Dade or Broward including quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. Gulliver Prep receiver Conner Vernon, Miami-Dade's No. 12-rated recruit, is also headed to Duke. He made his official visit to Duke this weekend with Gamble.
-- MANNY NAVARRO
The SeaHorse Wrestling Club is proud to announce that the premier pre-season wrestling tournament, the 34TH ANNUAL SEAHORSE OPEN, will be held Nov. 28 and 29, and has moved from Nova to the City of CORAL SPRINGS GYM (2501 Coral Springs Drive) in Coral Springs. With the move to a facility that can accommodate 10 mats, over 900 wrestlers are expected to compete in this 2-day event.
The competition will be outstanding as wrestlers from some of the best teams and clubs in Florida, complete in the state's longest running and best pre-season wrestling event. This event serves as a tune up for the upcoming season and gives coaches an opportunity to give their wrestlers some quality mat time, no matter what the level of ability.
If you have any questions, e-mail at email@example.com or call Ron Schulz, Event Director, 954-290-5262, or Competition Director Allen Held at 954-854-1124.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28- Weigh-in and registration, 8:00-9:30 am Cadets (15-16). Two divisions-Varsity level, JV level, High School weight classes, Schoolboys (age 13-14), High school weights plus 75, 85, 95 Kids (12 and under) by age and USA wrestling weights.
ALL WRESTLERS WILL WEIGH IN WITH A SINGLET ON. We will cover the decimal. $20 entry fee for schoolboys, and cadets, $15 for 12 and under KIDS and 2008-09 USA Wrestling card. Cards will be available at the meet.
Match times for Kids, Schoolboys, and Cadet JV—1-1-1, Cadets-varsity—2-1-1 Awards for 1st-4th places individual and top two teams in Kids/Schoolboys and Cadets.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29 --Juniors-2 divisions-State level, Varsity level and OPEN division, MASTERS division (over 35).
Weigh-in & registration Nov 28 4-6 PM or Nov 29- 8:00-9:30 am-JR-high school weights Open-NCAA wts. ALL WRESTLERS WILL WEIGH-IN IN A SINGLET. We will cover the decimal.
$20 for JUNIORS and OPEN. Must have a 2008-09 USA card. Available at the meet with proof of age.
Juniors-State 2-2-2, cons--2-1-1 Juniors-Varsity all matches-2-1-1, Open-- 2-2-2-all match
High School rules to be used EXCEPT OPEN and MASTERS.
NO SEEDING-RANDOM DRAW
Awards for first four places individual and top two teams in Juniors and Open
Wrestling to begin at 10:00 am to completion.
Admission $5 per day for adults and $2 for 12 and under.
SAVE THE LONG WAIT IN LINE, BUY YOUR CARD ONLINE AT floridausawrestling.org
His idol is LaDanian Tomlinson and his dream is to one day play football at Georgia Tech. On Friday night, Sheridan Hills senior running Frainy Alfrena moved closer to that dream with another impressive performance.
A week after setting a Broward County single game record, with a 15 carry, 405 yard and five touchdown performance against Highlands Christian, the 5-10, 180-pounder led the Sharks (5-2), rushing 33 times for 294 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-26 non-district win over Moore Haven.
“Alfrena was unstoppable,” Moore Haven coach Jason Bond said. “He was the best back we’ve seen this year, and we didn’t stop him all night. Our defensive line broke down a little bit.”
In the first seven games of the season, Alfrena now has 1,750 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this season.