When the 2013 high school football season came to an end last November, Monarch head coach Calvin Davis never had to give that season-ending speech. His players had already looked forward to 2014.
There was a feeling for this northwest Broward program that there would be enough talent returning to make a serious run in what already looks like a competitive 8A field that features Broward schools, Miramar, Flanagan, Cypress Bay and Deerfield Beach, a few programs in Palm Beach - and five Miami-Dade schools that have a reason to believe that Orlando is a realistic destination.
"When we finished that season with a loss to Miramar, there wasn't one of the 17 returning starters on this team that didn't believe that we should be in Orlando in December of 2014," Davis said. "I think while people were fixed on the tremendous skilled athletes we had coming back, they didn't pay attention to both sides of our line and our quality linebackers."
While having University of Alabama commits Calvin Ridley (6-1, 175) and Shawn Burgess Becker (6-2, 195) back on both sides of the ball was a given, this program did have enough underclassmen from last year to believe that there was more than just two players that would spark the Knights this coming season.
On offense, the senior class featured state-rated quarterback Michael Harris (6-1, 175), Ellex "Pooh" Davis (5-9, 160) and Brandon Pope, and returning running back Cavarri Morss, a 5-9 speedster, who had a huge spring.
What this program did in the off season was add depth at running back with bruising Brayon Parrish (5-11, 180) and two-way performer Deon Thompson (5-8, 205), who also plays linebacker. Offensive lineman Roberto Montanez (6-4, 270) was also a huge key.
"I think people underestimate the balance that we have on this offense," Davis said. "We showcase that in all our classes."
The senior class on defense is also a spot many took for granted. Led by quality secondary performers Ronnie Hoggins (5-10, 170) and Antone Hodge (5-9, 175), this is a strong and athletic unit. Add in defensive end Musa Abuzahrieh (6-2, 210) and linebacker Chauncey Edwards (5-10, 205) and things get interesting.
"Our defense is very underrated," said Hoggins, who is being looked at by schools such as Wisconsin, TCU and Louisville. "We are athletic, talented and have a reason to believe we can compete with anyone."
Where the Knights figure to make the biggest impact in 2014 will be with the depth that the underclassmen provide. The junior class features defensive lineman Matt Croyle (6-2, 250), secondary performers Isaiah McIntyre (5-9, 175), Buddy Lewis (5-9, 160), Javrick Taylor (6-0, 160) and Delmedris Berry, a 5-10, 155-pounder. Offensive linemen Phillip Douglass (6-2, 270) and Joshua Varona (6-4, 260), and speedy and versatile Cavin Ridley (6-2, 195).
"The true measure of a championship team is the ability to use all the players you have on the roster," Davis said. "We have to believe that there are very few programs that have the talent in all classes that we do."
Sophomore receiver Jerry Jeudy (6-2, 175) has already received numerous college offers - defensive lineman William Wallace (6-0, 265) is an up and coming standout.
Even incoming freshmen such as defensive end Keldrick Hooks (6-4, 270) and defensive lineman Karl Paul (6-0, 260), running back
Jalen Barther (5-10, 155) and linebacker K.J. Lewis (6-0, 180) figure to add to the mix of talent.
"There is really nothing that we are going to say to programs that are the favorites to get to Orlando," said Hoggins. "The only thing we will do is go out every week and show them that we are one of the teams to beat."
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. 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.
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OTHER INFORMATIONAL BLOGS
Productive June Boosts UM's Recruiting Perception
More of my interview with Jordan Cronkrite that could not make The Opening story in Sunday’s paper:
Cronkrite, the Miami Westminster Christian running back who committed to UM in April, said Friday he doubts he will stick with his pledge to the Hurricanes if Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas back Jordan Scarlett were to commit to UM.
Scarlett decommitted from Florida Atlantic on June 27 and lists UM, Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina among his favorites.
“I doubt I’d probably still be with UM,” Cronkrite said. “I’d probably look somewhere else.”
Cronkrite said he spoke with the UM coaching staff before the recent dead period started to see where he stood with the Canes.
“I had a talk with the coaches about the future,” he said. “And where I stand and where we stand at the running back position and all that. It was a nice talk.”
The topics of discussion?
“If things were to change or more people commit to the school – not certain names – but just what would happen with me and how our relationship would be, and where I’d go on their board if certain people commit.
“They told me I’m still on top of their list right now.”
Cronkrite remains committed to UM in the meantime, and will wait to see how things will unfold in the months to come.
There are multiple reports regarding Dexter Williams’ family wants the Winter Park West Orange tailback to play at the University of Florida.
And the reclassification of Miami Booker T. Washington’s Mark Walton gives UM its most solid commitment at the running back position in the Class of 2015.
Cronkrite simply would prefer not to play in a loaded backfield with Walton, Scarlett, Joseph Yearby, Gus Edwards and Walter Tucker where carries will be scarce for all parties involved.
“[I’m] not running away from competition, but just being realistic,” Cronkrite said. “They said they’re bringing in two and there’s three. There’s more time for me to be seen for the next level after college.”
Cronkrite listed West Virginia, Ohio State, South Carolina and Florida as “the main” schools in contention for his potential services. Cronkrite said he has a close relationship with a coaching staff member from each of the first three schools on that list.
Cronkrite has tentative plans to visit South Carolina and Ohio State after The Opening, which ends on Thursday. He visited West Virginia earlier this summer, and has visited UF before.