By Larry Blustein
Last year, when Kareem Reid looked at his Coconut Creek football team, he saw some talent and plenty of promise. This year, he views his Cougars as a program that can compete for a district title.
Playing in a district (15-6A) that is perhaps as prospect rich as you will find, Coconut Creek will look to improve on last year's 5-5 season that saw them drop key games in a district that was stacked with talent - including champion Dillard, runner-up Boynton Beach and a budding power in Hallandale, which was among the highest scoring programs in Florida. Add in Riviera Beach Suncoast and Stranahan - and this is a loaded district that may be as good as you get.
This off season saw Reid and his football program hit the group running. The Cougars - in "restoring the roar" - went out and added pieces to this already gifted program that could signal a change in some of those close games a year ago.
"We worked very hard in improving the roster and the attitude of this program," Reid said. "The athletes we had last year, combined with the key prospects added will give us the talent to stand toe-to-toe with anyone."
What the Cougars did in the off season was compete in everything from elite 7-on-7 events to working out and getting stronger and more talented.
While the underclassmen are going to be a huge part of the program, it's this group of seniors that will certainly make a huge difference. That experience and leadership may have been missing from last year's squad, but Reid insists, will be present this time around.
"We are very much counting on the senior class to provide that experience and overall leadership," Reid pointed out. "Players who have been through just about everything in this program."
Among the seniors what will be counted on heavily, includes transfers Korron Rozier (5-10, 185, Athlete) and linebacker Kermit Silva, a 5-11 210-pounder, who can give the Cougars a major lift.
In addition, players such as offensive lineman Huntley Sawyers (6-2, 300), defensive back/running back Marcus St. Louis (5-10, 175), linebacker Marcus Johnson (5-10, 205), defensive back Erskine Joseph (5-9, 160), receiver Aquani Barnes (6-3, 180) and defensive end David Wanliss (5-11, 195).
If you really want to see Reid and his staff smile, talk about the underclassmen. Prospects such as Class of 2016 standouts such as two-year starting quarterback Jhakari Harrison (6-0, 170) as well as nationally rated receiver Binjimin Victor (6-4, 170) and quality defensive back Trayvon Mullen (6-2, 170).
"We have an elite group of juniors, sophomores and incoming freshmen on this team," Reid pointed out. "We have to believe that this is as good a group of underclassmen as you will find."
In addition to Harrison, Victor and Mullen, the Class of 2016 will also feature versatile Malek Young (5-10, 175), defensive end Woodly Sully (6-3, 210), safety Alexy Jean-Baptiste (6-2, 190) and defensive lineman Darion St. Felix, a 6-1, 255-pounder.
The Class of 2017 has one of the nation's best in receiver Emmanuel Greene. This one-time youth football standout made a huge splash last season as a freshman and really caught fire in the off season with head-turning performances in the spring and summer, earning him many collegiate offers.
"Prospects like Emmanuel really make this program go," Reid explained. "While many have just watched him play 7-on-7, and have judged him off of what he did during those games, he is more impressive when the pads come on. He is truly an elite prospect and a pleasure to have in this program."
While there is plenty of optimism for the upcoming season, getting a playoff spot in this crowded district is certainly no guarantee, but the Cougars have shown that they are indeed ready to compete with anyone on the schedule!
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.
Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.
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