By Larry Blustein
There is no getting around the fact that Fort Lauderdale High's football program has a rich history that dates back over 100 years. The problem for many of the alumni through the years is that the growth of Broward County has taken its toll on the talent.
While prospects have come and gone through the years, the Flying Ls have always attempted to play on the rich traditions of the past, but as more and more schools opened - and the population began to shift toward the west, this is a program that had to scramble to get football talent locally, which was a tough assignment.
As most of the coaches who have tried to get some kind of momentum going through the years, it took one of its proud alumni to come back and see that vision. It has been open that if you build a solid foundation and make it fashionable to wear those white and blue uniforms, players would stay home and take pride like head coach Richard Dunbar has.
A graduate of the school Dunbar came back over the past five years to set down that foundation. To show that playing football at this school would pay off in a major way, and it has.
As the Flying Ls head into this year's season, they are indeed one of the favorites to win a district. That news in itself has gotten players, coaches, fans and alumni watching once again. This school does not win football districts. In fact, the sport of football has never really been a priority.
"We came in to change this culture," Dunbar said. "We wanted the players and this school to have pride in this program and understand that we can win games if the young men buy into the system and stay home."
Fort Lauderdale has always had the athletes, but having enough of them has been the problem. When the program sent linebacker Jaboree Williams to Wake Forest this past season, it put the program on the map. Now, using that momentum, Dunbar and the Flying Ls are looking to keep that going as they will roll out one of the most talented and deep programs the school has had in years.
Led by 6-4, 190-pound University of Cincinnati commit James Gardner, the team certainly has a reason to be optimistic after a tremendous off season that saw several players compete on 7-on-7 teams as well as grade out well at camps and combines.
"Having a prospect like James, who is a polished receiver, only helps add credibility to this program." Dunbar said. "Like Jaboree the past few years, he jumps starts this program, but he is not alone."
Fellow seniors such as Pomeroy Francis (OLB/SS, 6-0, 195) and two-way lineman Wajih Albaroudi (6-2, 265) are special. Albaroudi comes to Fort Lauderdale from Somerset Academy.
In addition, 2015 seniors include defensive back Devin Brown (5-11, 195) and versatile center, long snapper and punter Andrew Hales (6-2, 225) are key to this team as well.
With a solid and experienced senior class, Dunbar and the Flying Ls will also look toward the future - with an impressive underclass, led by talented receiver Junior Demelien, a 5-9, 165-pounder, who was spotlighted a number of times during the off season. Receiver Bradley Fleurinord (6-1, 185) is another player who stepped up over the past six months as well.
"We feel great with those young men who will be with us for the next two years," Dunbar pointed out. "You can really see the attitudes in this program change a lot."
While Demelien and Fleurinord are players Dunbar is excited about, Kevin "K.T." Thomas is the prospect who really brings plenty to this program. Not only is a tremendous defensive back prospect, but is also a kept on special teams as well as an athlete who can play quarterback if needed.
Thomas has already picked up interest from schools such as Lafayette, Dartmouth, Bucknell, Louisville, and Army. KT has great academics and is a kid that every coach would want in his program.
One of the younger players that this program is very excited about as the season approaches is Class of 2017 sophomore offensive/defensive lineman Torri Young. This 6-1, 225-pounder is going to be special and the Flying Ls will have him for three seasons.
"We approached this year with an attitude that we are now starting to turn the corner," Dunbar pointed out. "Now, we have to play hard and make things happen in a positive way, and I believe we are ready to do that."
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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