When the Southeastern Football Conference was first talked about four years ago, one of the main concerns from coaches and parents was the recruiting exposure the "independent" league would receive.
Because there had been so much emphasis put on teams who compete for a chance to get to the state championships, it was felt that while the league was designed to have the programs in south Florida compete on a level playing field, they would compromise by getting less college exposure, and in the process, lose out on that valuable chance to be recruited.
While low exposure was evident the first two years of operation, this year changed everything as the 12 teams who competed in the league produced several quality football players as well as fielding teams that were in the spotlight from the start of the season until the Nov. 15 championship game at FAU.
The title game - which featured unbeaten Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian and Coral Springs Charger not only attracted attention from nearly 6,000 fans who attended the championship game, but also college coaches from across the country who wanted to see film and get information on players.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for the smaller schools in south Florida to compete on a level playing field while producing college prospects," said Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy head coach Jake Sorg. "The games were competitive and every team in the conference had some quality talent on the roster."
While the league was designed to make the entire season interesting and keep nearly every team in the hunt for a playoff spot, it was also a chance for some players who sat the bench at larger schools to see extensive playing time at Norther Division schools such s West Palm Beach The King's Academy, Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, N. Palm Beach Benjamin School and Boca Raton Pope John Paul. Add in Coral Springs Charter and unbeaten champion Calvary Christian, and you had talented prospects as well as elite coach like former collegiate coach and coordinator Kirk Hoza, who has elevated Calvary to a level where the Eagles do more than compete.
"We have our share of outstanding young men on this team," Hoza shared. "They are not only quality young men, but very good athletes."
Calvary boasts Defensive Player of Year Tristan Peyton, a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker as well as fellow seniors in receiver/defensive back Parker Collins, lineman Vas Furman and defensive back Rod Sylvester. The Eagles also boast standout junior lineman Storm Sims (son of former Miami Dolphins Keith Sims) and one of the most talented sophomore quarterbacks in south Florida in Nick Holm.
Coach Adam Miller's Coral Springs Charter squad was equally as talented with college prospects Marcos Hilera (senior lineman), juniors Chris Judge, Joshua Paul, Calvin Jackson and Kalen Carson, and sophomore standout defensive end Michael Carrion among others.
"This is a very talented and young team we have," Miller said. "Many of our players compete year round which helps give them exposure."
Pine Crest, which advanced to the quarterfinals boasted seniors Patrick Haley, Isaac Mercado and Nick Nolting.
The Southern Division was loaded with prospect and quality teams as well. Sorg's Westminster Academy squad was stacked with elite prospects such as senior and Co-Offensive Player of the Year Johnnie Gaines, a running back transfer who came in this year from St. Thomas. Fellow seniors Les Dalger, Ryan Moore, Micah Smith, Houston Underwood and Joe Vairo were all tremendous football talent, and sophomore linebacker Zack Ledbetter is setting himself up to be one of the best in the Class of 2017.
In addition to Westminster Academy, south teams such as coach Willie Trimmer's Miami LaSalle, which boasted seniors Terrill Hanks, Manny Readon and Montrel Thomas - and junior John Pierce - were one of the most talented teams. Trimmer, a longtime coach, was the biggest proponent of the league and the exposure the teams have received.
"I have nothing but great things to say about this league and the way we have been covered by colleges and the media," he said. "Our kids have gotten plenty of exposure by attending events in the off season as well."
Florida Christian (Alex Bosque, Nick Tejedor and Paul Gonzalez), Archbishop Curley (Richard Champagne and Beethoven Moise), Boca Raton St. Andrew's Academy and Tavernier Coral Shores have also been competitive.
Coral Shores relished the opportunity to compete in a conference where they were on a level playing field. Coach Ed Holly had some of the more publicized players in the league -such as Co-Offensive Player of the Year, George Jacobsen, his twin brother, Henry, as well as senior Paul Pauchey and Eddie Dunn, and juniors Chris O'Berry and David Williams.
"This league really provided our young men with plenty of exposure," Holly pointed out. "Not just from a football standpoint, but the SFC also rewarded the players in the league for doing well in the classroom."
As Calvary wrapped up the title this year, the SFC was pleased in knowing that the attendance in the championship game at FAU would have been the third largest in last year FHSAA championship weekends (eight games) in Orlando!
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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