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23 posts from June 2009

June 10, 2009

The public-private school debate

First, from ESPN this morning, Erik Kuselias interviewing the Maine high school football champions:

Kuselias: So what are you guys trying to do to get Maine to be like the football hotbeds like Texas, California and New Jersey?

Huh? When Erik Kuselias thinks of high school football, he thinks of Texas, California and New Jersey before Florida?

Wow, okay.

I had an enlightening conversation with Columbus coach Chris Merritt this afternoon concerning some points brought up in a story I wrote yesterday about summer camps in South Florida. Yesterday, as I sometimes do, I went off on a bit of a tangent within the story about the different amount of preparation that public school programs get during the summer versus private schools. Schools like Columbus tend to work through the summer while most public schools don't really get going until later; late July or August.

Coach Merritt took umbrage with the assertion, pointing out that his Explorers adhere to all the same rules and regulations as their public counterparts under the GMAC and FHSAA.

"We have to follow all those rules just like everyone else, so we do compete on a level playing field," he said. "To say that we have an unfair advantage is misinformed, it's wrong."

He went on to make a good point about another part of the article; when I talk about the way Columbus came roaring out of the gates last year against public school teams. Columbus went on to finish the regular season undefeated, and what coach Merritt had too much class to mention was that the reason they beat those teams so badly is that Columbus was way better than them. Example: Later in the season against Killian, Columbus beat the Cougars by two points, and I think if you talked to anyone who saw that game they would say that it had nothing to do with summer practices or fair or unfair advantages. Columbus was two points better than Killian.

Yesterday, I spoke with Hialeah coach Marc Berman, and he said as much. "Later on in the season, I think it all evens out."

Merritt went on to point out that private school is not some wonderland refuge for all talented athletes. He pointed out that some athletes who proved not to be up for the discipline and high standards have transferred out of private schools all over the county, opting to go elsewhere, many times public schools.

"Not every kid is cut out to wear a tie and go to an all-boys school," he said. Good point.

I remember when I played in high school (Cary High School, Cary, NC), we didn't play against the private schools because they had their own rules. They brought in kids from New Jersey and Virginia, even California and worked their teams like pro franchises. We public schoolers all started in the middle of July with two-a-days, and schools like Columbus weren't on our schedule. The GMAC and Dade County public schools have found a way to make this work by subjecting everyone to the same rules.

The question, like most things in life, seems to come down to finances. Now it's pretty hard to get anyone on the phone at the school district this time of year, but Miami-Dade Public Schools is the one governing body that athletic teams don't share with the private schools. Each time a kid steps on a field with pads on, schools are liable for them. Insurance isn't cheap, and from what I've been able to gather, the disconnect happens when administrators at public schools have to put moritoriums on practices for cost reasons. Schools, especially in our troubled county and state, just cannot afford to keep the kids on the field in early summer.

Is that Columbus' fault? Of course not. And it's not as if Merritt's staff is coaching from an ivory tower. The "coaches waiting to work with the kids" at Columbus that I mention in the story spend a lot of hours of their own time doing so. Actually, public schools with stronger booster programs and more rabid fan bases are sometimes able to defray these costs as well, so it's technically not even a "public-private" debate.

I agree with a lot of points coach Merritt made to me, but a part of me also thinks we can't pretend there is no difference. It may not be an advantage, per se, but it is definitely a circumstance. So what do you think? I know we have a cross-section of public- and private-school readers on this blog, so I trust your opinions. Tell us below in the comments section. And keep an eye out, you can bet we will be touching on this subject again as the summer weeks move us closer to the kickoff of regular season.

McNamara headed to Stanford

He grew up around the sport of wrestling, where his father, Pat, coached Highland Oaks Middle School in North Miami Beach, and opened and built Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines.

On Tuesday, Joe McNamara, who started his football and wrestling career in the ninth grade at Chaminade-Madonna under Mark Guandolo, announced that he would head west to attend Stanford University, which is one of the most prestigious programs in the nation.

While wrestling was important to McNamara, who advanced to the state tournament this past season in the 285-pound division, football began to share the spotlight after leaving Chaminade and following his father to Cypress Bay, where he was reunited with Guandolo, who had always predicted big things from this line prospect who ran under 5.0 (over 40 yards).

At Cypress Bay, the 6-2, 275-pouner started in the 10th grade and was singled out as being one of the most athletic linemen in the state of Florida. While very few had heard about him, the Miami Herald watched this impressive athlete play, rating him in the top 20 before the spring of this year, which paved the way for several offers.

Before letting Stanford know that he was going to head to Palo Alto next year, McNamara was offered by Wisconsin, FIU, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Iowa State, an area where his parents grew up and many of his family members still live.

The spring also brought out schools such as UCLA, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Boston College and UConn.

"I was sold on Stanford the first time I saw the campus," McNamara said. "The school, the tradition and the direction they are headed all played a key role in the decision.

Last season, McNamara was responsible for helping the Lightning reach the playoffs before losing to rival Miramar.

Attending very few camps, McNamara's appearance at the Elite Scouting Combine in April was one that cemented his standing among top line prospects in the state of Florida.

"From the first time we watched him as a 10th grader, there was something about the kid that you knew was special," said Charles Fishbein of ESS. "He was in great shape, was quick and had tremendous strength. Stanford came into Florida and got a very good player who will accomplish some big things out there."

June 09, 2009

Baron happily surprised to be taken before 2nd round

Ferguson catcher Steven Baron figured his asking price was too high, that teams might not be willing to take a chance on him after his "average" senior season at the plate.

Steven Baron He found himself to be pleasantly surprised to say the least Tuesday night when the Seattle Mariners decided to spend the 33rd overall pick (and first pick in the compensatory round) on him.

"I'm still trembling," said Baron, who was watching the draft online from his parents' home in Kendall. "I was on the phone with my advisor and he said stay on the phone with me and watch the computer. All of a sudden I heard 'Steven Baron' and my heart skipped a beat."

Baron earned All-Dade First Team honors after leading the Falcons to the GMAC title. He hit .350 with two home runs and 16 RBI -- not as good as he wanted. But it didn't stop the Mariners, who he visited on his own last week for a workout, from being convinced Baron has a bright future.

"I'm so excited right now. It's unbelievable," Baron said. "This was totally unexpected. It's been such a crazy year. Everything is just so unbelievable. I had people hugging me, people knocking on the door. This is a moment I'll never forget."

Baron was all set to go to Duke before the draft began. Blue Devils coaches visited him Monday night and showed him a powerpoint presentation, geared to demonstrate the benefits of attending college instead of going to the minor leagues. They also bumped his scholarship up -- raising the offer from $40,000 a year to $50,000.

Baron (6-0, 190) may still choose to go to Duke (he has until August 15th to negotiate). But there's probably a better chance the Mariners will make an offer closer to Baron's $1.3-$1.4 million asking price and convince him to begin his professional career.

"It's been tough. I've had a lot of people tugging me both ways," Baron said. "But I got to do what's best for me."

Seen and heard at the Miami Dolphins 7-on-7

"I always knew I was better than him. Now I have my chance to prove it." -- Hialeah quarterback Juan Soto on last year's QB competition with Bidner Dorlean, who has since transfered to Booker T. Washington.

"I'm not trying to be another Eugene Smith. I'm just trying to be me." --Miramar quarterback Ryan Williams, who showed off a canon-arm on Tuesday. Williams trasnfered from American Heritage to Miramar this summer.

"Right now we're missing some guys, but I think we can have success like last year." -- Columbus coach Chris Merritt.

Against Hialeah, Jackson's defense forced six turnovers and looked like the fastest unit on in the park.

Although they were on the camp roster, Miami Northwestern did not show up at Central Park on Tuesday.

If possible, Hialeah defensive end and blue chip recruit Corey Lemonier looked bigger than at the end of last season. Lining up in coverage, Lemonier stayed step-for-step with most receivers.

Check out the Herald's stories on summer camps in South Florida here, or be all old-fashionedy and pick up a print copy.

Heath Evans 7-on-7, June 20

Class 4A champion Tampa Plant, Olympic Heights and Miami Southridge have accepted invitations to compete in the fourth annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Championship on June 20 at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach.

The field was expanded to 18 teams in the invitation-only, which benefits the Heath Evans Foundation, and features some of the top teams and players from throughout the state.

Teams who also have accepted invitations are two-time Class 1B state champion Jupiter Christian, traditional power Glades Central, Class 2A finalist Miami Gulliver Prep, Dwyer, featuring Florida’s top prospect Matt Elam, Class 3A pre-season favorite Booker T. Washington of Miami, Miramar, Boyd Anderson, Ely, Park Vista, Daytona Mainland, Daytona Seabreeze, Cardinal Gibbons, Glades Day, The King’s Academy and Cardinal Newman.

Evans started the 7-on-7 tournament to bring something back to Palm Beach County while raising awareness and money for his foundation.

“Bringing in NFL players gives the kids an opportunity to learn first-hand about the integrity, discipline and character that are needed to help them reach the next level,” said Evans. “It helps set this event apart and makes it special.”

Among the NFL players expected to attend include Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk of the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, former University of Florida star wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, now with the Denver Broncos, and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington.

The tournament is open to the public. Tickets are $5 person and available at the gate. The King’s Academy is located at 8401 Belvedere Road, approximately one mile east of 441.

Evans, who signed with the New Orleans Saints in the offseason after four years with the New England Patriots, is looking forward to the new developments at this year’s event.

The fourth annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Championship has added several new twists for the fans and players. There will be a “Beat the Pros Challenge” giving fans and high school players a chance to test their skills against NFL players attending the event.

The Heath Evans Foundation is selling $1 raffle tickets only at the event and two fans will be chosen for each skill competition. Two high school players will also participate in each event, which includes a 40-yard dash, catching punts from a JUGGS machine and passing accuracy.

“We wanted to do something different, something unique that involved everyone,” said Evans, who graduated from The King’s Academy and attended Auburn University. “A chance to meet and test your skills against an NFL player will be fun. And that’s our goal, to make this a highly competitive tournament while having fun.”

Proceeds from this tournament will benefit the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Heath Evans Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse. It is committed to breaking the cycle of abuse through healing the psychological, physical, and spiritual wounds inflicted on innocent children; to bring hope and healing to the young victims of sexual abuse.

Major sponsors include Hulett Environmental Services, Chick-fil-A and Cheney Brothers.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Glenn Martin, President of the Heath Evans Foundation at (561) 282-6345 or by email at glenn.martin@heathevans.org.

7:30 a.m. – High school teams check-in begins
8:30 a.m. – Introduction and Welcome by Heath Evans
9 a.m. – NFL players usually start arriving
9:15 a.m. – First-round games start
10:15 a.m. – Second-round games start
11:15 a.m. – Third-round games start
Noon – Lunch break and guest speakers for high school players
12:45 p.m. – Beat the Pro Challenge No. 1 -- Vince Wilfork
1 p.m. – Single-elimination games begin
1:45 p.m. – Beat the Pro Challenge No. 2 -- Heath Evans
2:45 p.m. – Beat the Pro Challenge No. 3 -- Matt Cassel
3 p.m. – Semifinals
4 p.m. – Championship Game

June 07, 2009

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: Columbus Explorers

HEAD COACH: Chris Merritt

CITY: Miami

2008 RECORD: 10-1

CLASS: 14-6A

Daniel Arrizurieta, OL, 6-1, 230,
Michael Arrizurieta, OL, 6-1, 230
Mark Cal, OL/LS, 5-9, 265
Garret Calao, QB, 5-11, 175
James Calzavara, WR, 5-11, 175
Jakhari Gore, RB, 5-10, 175
Mark Estape, DL, 5-11, 250
Tommy Heffernan, LB, 6-2, 210
Tyrell Hemingway, SS/WR, 5-11, 180
Chris Gonzalez-Jacobo, OL, 6-1, 260
Jake Keller, OLB/DE, 6-2, 185
Daniel Prado, OLB, 5-9, 200
Nick Prado, FB, 5-10, 220
Barry Santos, CB, 5-9, 175
Robert Schaeffler, TE, 6-1, 190
Alex Wethy, OL, 6-3, 250

Brandon Bradley, LB, 5-10, 190
Anthony Rabassa, DE, 6-3, 215

Dion Bush, DB, 6-0, 170
Javy Pagliery, DL, 5-11, 245
Brandon Radcliff, RB, 5-10, 190

June 05, 2009

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: Jackson Generals

HEAD COACH: Nigel Dunn

CITY: Miami

2008 RECORD: 3-7

CLASS: 16-3A

Kaytron Becton, DB/WR, 5-10, 165
Floyd Collins, LB, 5-10, 185
Terrance Griffin, OL/DL, 6-2, 235
Jonathan Hernandez, OL, 6-1, 225
Tavaris McMillian, LB, 6-0, 190
Graylon Mitcheler, LB, 5-10, 195
Princeton Perry, DB/WR, 6-1, 175
Rashard Stewart, DB/QB, 5-11, 185

Ruben Carter, OL/DL, 6-4, 230
Terronce Robbins, RB, 165
Robenson Therezie, RB/DB/LB, 5-11, 190

Deandre Jasper, WR/RB, 5-10, 185

June 04, 2009

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: Westminster Christian Warriors


CITY: Miami

2008 RECORD: 7-3


Kyle Dodds, RB/LB, 5-10, 210
Sean Jenkins, WR/DB, 6-0, 180
Perry Meiklejohn, OT, 6-3, 305

Nathan Pritchett, OG, 6-0, 240
Antonio Washington, FS, 5-11, 165

Jimmy Jennings, DE, 6-1, 185
Nick Kuntz, OC, 6-2, 245
Jameel Middlebrooks, RB/DB, 5-9, 175
Carlos Muniz, LB, 6-0, 190
Sterling Pilsbury, WR, 6-0, 175

Davod Thompson, QB, 6-1, 180

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: Northwestern Bulls

HEAD COACH: Billy Rolle

CITY: Miami

2008 RECORD: 13-2 (state runnerup)

CLASS: 13-6A

Todd Chandler, DT, 6-1, 290
Charles Fashaw, TE, 6-4, 215
Rashad Gaitor, DE/OLB, 6-1, 190
Michaelee Harris, WR, 6-1, 180
Jonathan Jenkins, OL, 6-4, 260
Brandon Joseph, DB, 5-8, 160
Ricky Joseph, DL, 6-3, 280
Alex Kelly, DB, 5-8, 160
Badrevin Kelly, RB, 5-9, 170
Corvin Lamb, RB, 5-9, 180
Jahrie Level, WR, 6-1, 165
Eugene Lott, DL, 6-2, 250
Khalid Marshall, DB, 5-9, 175
Jamal McClendon, WR, 6-1, 170
Khambrel McGee, DB, 5-9, 170
Emmanuel Peterson, DB, 5-11, 175
Donald Senat, OL, 6-3, 250
Lorenzo Shinhoster, WR, 5-9, 175
Roy Smith, WR, 5-8, 160
Tyrell Smith, DE, 6-0, 200
Jerome Thomas, S, 6-1, 180
Torrian Wilson, OL, 6-5, 320

Demetrius Allen, LB, 6-0, 200
Ahmed Bendross, DB, 5-7, 155
Devin Bennett, LB, 6-2, 180
Teddy Bridgewater, QB/WR, 6-3, 170
Terrance Carey, OL, 6-3, 250
Ralp Carr, OL, 6-1, 300
Shawn Collier, LB, 6-0, 170
Eustace Duncanson, OL, 6-8, 320
Lyndon Edwards, LB, 6-1, 200
Rashad Flanders, LB, 6-0, 200
Jeff Hollinger, FB, 5-10, 190
Dantrell Horne, WR, 6-3, 160
Jerrill Jenkins, RB, 5-11, 180
Anthony Johnson, S, 6-3, 160
Diamonte Jones, WR, 6-2, 170
Roy McClendon, DL, 6-0, 210
James Merrill, DB, 5-8, 160
Christian Morris, OL, 6-2, 270
Derrick Morris, DB, 5-9, 160
Jermaine Reve, S, 6-0, 180
Eli Rogers, WR, 5-9, 170
Everett Slocum, OL, 6-5, 250

Quinton Bynoe, LB, 5-8, 245
Orlando David, QB, 6-3, 220
Elgin Hilliard, QB, 6-3, 165
Terry Joseph, RB, 5-7, 150
Devante Jumper, DB, 5-8, 160
Trenton Perriman, DB, 5-9, 155
Marcus Pyron, DL, 5-9, 200
Billy Rolle, DB, 6-0, 180
Clinton Taylor, WR, 5-9, 160
Felix Vanderpool, DB, 5-8, 150
Patrick Walter, WR, 5-9, 160

June 03, 2009


HEAD COACH: Telly Lockette

CITY: Miami

2008 RECORD: 8-4

CLASS: 13-6A

Xavier Allen, DB, 5-9, 180
Shawn Brown, OL/DL, 6-2, 300
Derrick Dansby, LB/S, 6-1, 190
Antwan Darling, DB, 6-1, 191
Marcus Fairley, LB, 6-0, 215
Brandon Gainer, RB, 6-1, 210
Jeffrey Godfrey, QB, 6-0, 186
Lucious Hinton, DB, 6-1, 165
Derrick Knowles, WR, 5-9, 182
Jose Jose, OL/DL, 6-0, 330
Kennavus Noel, DB, 5-10, 165
Joshua Reese, WR, 6-1, 186
Lebranden Richardson, DE, 6-1, 195
Stanley St. Jean, OL, 6-3, 260
Jose Sosa, DE, 6-2, 230
Jordan Thomas, DB, 6-1, 163

Jefferson Augustine, WR, 5-11, 180
Reggie Brown, RB, 5-8, 166
Alonso Faison, DB, 5-8, 170
Thomas Finnie, DB, 5-10, 178
Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-10, 170
Charles Gaines, WR, 5-10, 179
Dwight Jackson, LB, 6-0, 195
Thomas Lvelee, DL, 6-0, 265
Delray Lewis, RB, 5-10, 180
Marquis Lucas, OL/DL, 6-4, 295
Ernest McDaniel, RB, 5-9, 171
John Miller, OL/DL, 6-2, 255
Miles Pace, LB, 6-0, 230
Alexander Petithomme, PK, 5-6, 145
Oliver Vigille, LB, 5-11, 186
Elijah Wilson, DB, 5-10, 180

Henry Antenor, WR, 5-10, 170
Rashee Harrell, RB, 5-9, 160
Drexell Lindsay, WR, 5-5, 130
Edmond Thomas, WR, 5-8, 155