There was a feeling you got last May - two weeks into the spring football drills - when South Dade played a talented Cardinal Gibbons squad in an event at Tamiami Park. It was there you had a sense that this group of Buccaneers had the chance to be special.
One of the real prospect rich programs that has gone through some changes over the past few seasons - and have arrived at a place this school has never been at - the state championship game.
For every player who competed for the prospect-rich Florida City Razorbacks, Gould, Richmond, Palmetto or any other youth football hotbed in Perrine, Naranja or Homestead, this year's team represents the quality of youth football that is played each and every year in the sector that could have as much pure football prospects than anywhere else in the nation.
For this mine of gold has brought the success to head coach Nathaniel Hudson and his football program. Players such as defensive back Antwan Cordy, receiver and UM commit Tyre Brady, Mario Mezier, FSU bound receiver C.J. Worton and quarterback Kahlil Render, who is easily the best story around.
Render came over from Homestead - where he was used as an athlete. With the Buccaneers he among the leading prospects around - and without him this program is not in Orlando on Saturday night.
But what has turned the tide in post season wins against Southwest, Killian, South Dade and Palm Beach Gardens, this defense is the reason that there will be a 15th game this year for South Dade.
"This defensive team really for very strong this year and came together," said Cordy, who has been one of the catalysts for this program the past three years. "We built toward this from last year and added a few key pieces."
The Buccaneers play sound defensively, and figure everything else will take care of itself. They don't have a nickname for the defensive unit, but this group is all about playmakers. Technically sound football prospects such as linebackers Tyree Horton and Doyle Grimes, defensive backs Dexter Nottage and a bunch of young men who just get the job done - with very little fanfare.
You shake your head when you watch defensive tackle Ponce Jones, who at 5-9, 255, does not automatically strike fear into the opposition, but at the end of the game, is usually among the leading tacklers.
"Our defense has really made a difference in the playoffs," Hudson explained. "We went through a stretch where the games we were playing were not in the best conditions”.
Players such as linebacker Deion Betts, Tadarius Wilson, James Wiggins, Marlin Wint, Robert Wynter, Demetrius Willis, Cayman Battle, sophomore Wyatt Swanson and others have given this team a chance in every game this year. Against Apopka, this team will be tested - like no other team they played this year.
While the 2013 season has been much about this current program and many of its quality stars, it's also paying respect for what has happened in the past - and that is what this program will be playing for on Saturday night.
Have something to add to this Recruiting Blog? Drop Larry Blustein a note at Floridakids1@aol.com.