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Here come the South Florida Express!

This weekend, Brett Goetz and his South Florida Express 7-on-7 team will see if the last month is any indication of what will happen in the second Badger Sport Skills 7-on-7 event at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Several of the elite players from the Southeast will head to USF with the hopes of bringing home a team title, and while it’s tough to pick a favorite, the Express has to be one of the most talented teams in a field that is expected to attract some big time talent in the event that starts Saturday afternoon and wraps up on Sunday.

“We have a lot of kids who have worked hard for this event,” said Goetz. “But as we found out last year, there are great players all over the place.”

After attracting national, regional and statewide media to the first practice, the Express narrowed down the field, lost a few players to other teams and has a roster than everyone feels comfortable with.

You cannot argue with the talent on this team that is made up of mostly Miami-Dade and Broward players, including receivers Ted Meline, Jelani Rouland and University of Miami commitment Quinton Dunbar (Booker T. Washington), Dante Chambers and Ivan McCarthy (Miramar), Stevie Green (Boyd Anderson), Delvin Jones (Palmetto).

Quarterbacks Brandon Doughty (North Broward Prep) and Michael Strauss (Gulliver Prep) have proven that they are quality players. So are running backs Jakhari Gore (Columbus), Ethan Grant (North Broward Prep) and versatile Eduardo Clements (Booker T. Washington).

“There is plenty of speed on the offensive side of the ball,” said Goetz. “Grant, Clements and Gore have created mismatches in practice.”

On defense, St. Thomas Aquinas’ newest standout, Lamarcus Joyner, regarded by many as the top player defensive back in the state, will be in action along with Hollywood Hills defensive back Tony Grimes, Plantation defensive backs Tim Burke, Michael Anderson, Gilbert St. Louis and Devin Drane, Boyd Anderson defensive back Demar Dorsey, Gulliver sophomore Alvin Toomer and Northwestern standout Khambrel McGee.

“This is a solid unit,” said Grimes, who many had not heard about before the event started last month. “We have speed, quickness and the ability cover receivers of all sizes and shapes.”

Linebackers Darius Davis (American Heritage), Jamaal Bass (Miramar) and sophomore Jeremy Cash (Ransom Everglades) have also looked very impressive.

As impressive as this team is, it could have been far better as Michaelee Harris will miss the games because of SAT testing and super sophomore Teddy Bridgewater had a prior family commitment. The Express also had Killian defensive back Richard Leonard early on as well as Central trio Joshua Reese, Brandon Gainer and Jeffrey Godfrey, who all opted not to play in the event.

LARRY BLUSTEIN
Lblustein@miamiherald.com

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