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So. Florida teams get ready for spring football

After numerous camps and combines, 7-on-7 tournaments and conditioning drills, this coming Wednesday will usher in another chapter of south Florida football.

From Deerfield Beach to Florida City, high school teams will spend the month of May showcasing players, working to fill holes and getting ready for a summer that is always productive.

No matter what direction you look at, college coaches will flood the fields in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, hoping to discover the next Teddy Bridgewater or Geno Smith.

Spring football in the state of Florida, especially in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, has been something that college coaches plan months and months ahead for. It is where the future for many schools are realized - during three intense weeks of high level football.

"This is when the college coaches really make their mark down in this region," said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. "There was a time you would see 20-25 programs come down here and set the table for the future. Now, there are almost 100 coaches roaming our talented fields during May."

While colleges need to see what they can add for the upcoming classes, the local high school coaches and players use the time to apply what has been learned and to see what needs to be worked on during the next four months.

Having the opportunity to compete year round has helped some schools continue to stay at a high level. While high school coaches differ on what their players get involved in during the off season, this is the one month they have the entire team together.

"We have a lot of positions to fill before we open the season, so the spring is very important to us," said Cypress Bay head coach Mark Guandolo, who guided his team to the 8A state title game. "When you have to replace an entire offensive backfield, the competition will be interesting."

This is the one month when evaluating is a paramount. With many colleges already securing the Class of 2014, it's the rising juniors (2015) and sophomores (2016) who get the chance to shine as well.

As talented as this 2014 class is in south Florida, perhaps as impressive as anywhere in the country, the athletes behind them are also impressive as well. That will keep schools from all over the country very busy.

DEFENDING THEIR TURF
With a record six teams taking part in the state championships last season - which produced four winners - it's also time to take a look at what's going on with defending 3A state champion Davie University School, 4A state champion Miami Booker T. Washington, 6A Miami Central and 7A Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas - as well as 2A runner-up Miami Dade Christian and Cypress Bay.

Here is a pre-spring rundown:

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON TORNADOES
2012 RECORD:
13-1. Beat Jacksonville Bolles, 35-7, in the 4A title game.
HEAD COACH: Tim "Ice" Harris
HEADLINERS: Treon Harris, QB, Krondis Larry, RB, Nigel Patten, DB, Chad Thomas, DE and Lamar Parker, WR.
NEWCOMERS: James King, LB, Emilio Gibbs, Carlos Williams, WR and Darrius Scott, WR.
WHAT TO EXPECT: There is little doubt that this is a program that fully expects to be in the state title game at the end of the season, and with four huge transfers, the reality is they will be very tough to dethrone. This is easily one of the nation's elite programs.

CENTRAL ROCKETS
2012 RECORD:
12-2. Beat Gainesville, 37-14, in the 6A title game.
HEAD COACH: Roland Smith.
HEADLINERS:Dalvin Cook, RB/S, Joseph Yearby, RB, Trevor Darling, OL, Deatrick Nichols, DB, Raul Diaz, OL, Michael Smith, OL, Rasheed Blatch, LB, Marquis Couch, LB, Tavius Brown and Da'vante Phillips, WR.
NEWCOMERS: Terrell Bonds, DB and Calvin Brewton, DB.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This is perhaps the best offensive team in the state of Florida. With Roland Smith moving in this spring and learning his new players, things should go along smoothly. Defensively, the Rockets are underrated. They are stacked just about everywhere.

CYPRESS BAY LIGHTNING
2012 RECORD:
12-3. Lost to Apopka, 53-50, in the 8A title game.
HEAD COACH: Mark Guandolo
HEADLINERS: Marquese Dudley-Gordon, S, Deion Hallmon, DB, Justin Rae, DT, Griffin Jossfolk, LB and Gavin Anderson, DB.
NEWCOMERS: There is much expected from incoming ninth grade running back Mike Epstein, who will be ready to go in the summer.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This is still a well coached and talented program, but the lack of experience in a very tough district and region will call for a number of younger prospects to step up. The schedule is once again very tough.

DADE CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS
2012 RECORD:
12-1. Lost to Jacksonville University Christian, 28-10, in the 2A state title game.
HEAD COACH: Mike Sonneborn
HEADLINERS: Mariel Steadman, RB, Victor Young, LB, Mike Perra, LB, John Perez OL, John Saintil, DB, Alex Perrera DL and Blake Janvion, DB.
NEWCOMERS: While there are no new transfers, there are some players who figure to make an impact during the spring.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The only Miami-Dade program to finish the regular season unbeaten, this year figures to be tough for a program that lost three D1 players over the past two seasons and has to replace 13 starters. There are some youngsters who are expected to keep this current winning tradition alive.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS RAIDERS
2012 RECORD:
13-2. Won 7A state title, 41-25, over Tallahassee Lincoln.
HEAD COACH: Rocco Casullo
HEADLINERS: Anthony Moten, DT, Mardre London, RB, Corey Holmes, WR, Alshinard Harris, DB, Ryan Crozier, OL, Nicholas Linder, OL, Deltron Sands, RB (2015) and Nick Bosa DE (2016).
NEWCOMERS: The player who everyone has been talking about is rising senior quarterback Wade Freebeck, who comes in from Western.
WHAT TO EXPECT: With a very challenging schedule - especially in the first three weeks - this is a program that will be tested. But keep in mind, this is one of those teams that has talent and depth at every position, and should be in the mix nationally - again!

UNIVERSITY SCHOOL SUNS
2012 RECORD:
12-0. Beat Madison County, 24-17, in the 3A state title game.
HEAD COACH: Roger Harriott
HEADLINERS: Quincy Wilson, DB, Emmanuel Soto, WR, LaJuan Hunt, RB, Andrew Korakakakos, LB, Jordan Scarlett, RB (2015) and Andrew DiRocco, PK.
NEWCOMERS: Richard Yeargin III, OLB and Sean White, QB.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Plenty of holes to fill from last year as the talented Suns move into 4A - where Booker T. Washington will be waiting. The addition of former Chaminade-Madonna standouts Yeargin and White will continue to elevate the team many selected as the best in the area. The schedule is the toughest in the brief history of the program.

We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. All you have to do is send a You Tube or Hudl link and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein at Floridakids1@aol.com.

Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.

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