The dream season of Miramar will be hard to reproduce, but with a number of key transfers and the steady coaching hand of Damon Cogdell, the defending state 6A football champions will give it a strong shot.
Miramar was one of four teams from the state's south region to win state crowns last year. The others were
Dwyer-Palm Beach Gardens (4A), American Heritage-Delray Beach (1A) and Glades Day-Belle Glade (1B).
Traditional 6A powers Northwestern (Miami, Fla.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), Central (Miami) and Belen Jesuit (Miami) figure to contend for a state title as well. Here is a brief look at some of the South Florida squads and individuals who should figure prominently in the 2010 season.
Last season: 14-1
With a 42-20 win over DeLand, the Patriots won their first-ever state crown in December. They were hit hard by graduation and a repeat performance will be monumental but not out of the question.
The team's biggest hole was left by the three-headed monster of star quarterback Ryan Williams, All-American receiver Ivan McCartney and Jeremiah Hicks, who rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 scores last season. Williams threw for 2,267 yards and 27 touchdowns. Dual-threat quarterback and Carol City transfer Devonte Mathis will compete with Cameron Hudge for the starting job. Mathis was one of the Chiefs' big game-breakers completing 63 of 118 passes for 716 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for six scores.
Playing behind a solid core of wideouts last season, junior Malcom Lewis will have the chance to emerge. He had 17 catches for 232 yards and three scores last year, including a 56-yard touchdown that helped Miramar beat Central 21-14 in the state semifinals.
McArthur (Hollywood) transfer Sean McVay, a senior, will look to compliment Lewis. McVay's stock rose this summer after catching two touchdown passes to help Miramar capture a 20-19 win over Glades Central in the championship game of the fifth annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 tournament at King's Academy.
Despite offensive additions, the Patriots have many gaps to fill on defense. The unit, known as "The Dark Side," was among the most dominant in the state, holding opponents to 6.8 points per game last season. Linebackers Markies Hall, Mark Rucker and Mike Fleurinvil, a sophomore, will lead the middle core of the defense, while McArthur transfer Stephen Montgomery, Carol City (Miami) transfer Jeffrey Perry and Tracey Howard will lead the secondary. Clevonne Davis and Willie Paisley, a transfer from Carol City, will anchor the defensive line.
A big part of Miramar's success was due to the leadership of Cogdell, who received at least three Coach of the Year awards last season, including one from the Miami Dolphins.
Big Games: Sept. 10 at DeSoto (Texas); Oct. 15 vs. St. Thomas Aquinas
Last season: 10-2
After averaging 38 points per game, Northwestern's season came to an end with a 29-16 6A quarterfinal loss to Central (Miami). The Bulls, who had reached the state finals the three previous seasons, are led by one of the state's top quarterbacks in University of Miami-bound Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 165 of 262 passes for 2,546 yards and 32 touchdowns, while rushing for 379 yards and five scores as junior.
He also set a Miami-Dade County record for touchdown passes in a game with seven.
Bridgewater, along with teammate Eli Rogers, helped lead the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team to two national tournament titles: the Badger National Tournament in Tuscaloosa (Ala.) and the Nike Tournament in Beaverton, Ore.
Rogers, also a Miami-commit, was one of Bridgewater's top targets last season finishing with 35 catches for 551 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns. Playing behind standout receivers Michaelee Harris and Lorenzo Shinhoster, who both graduated, Rogers, will undoubtedly be Bridgewater's top target this season.
On defense, linebackers Demetrius Allen and Lyndon Edwards, both Florida International commits, lead the way. Junior defensive end Eric Kinsey has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the Class of 2012. The secondary will be led by Central Florida commit, Jermaine Reve, who plays safety. He recorded 70 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception last season.
Big Games: Sept. 3 vs. Carol City; Oct. 21 at Miami Springs
Last season: 12-2
Despite the departure of UCF-bound Jeffrey Godfrey, Miami-Dade County’s all-time leading passer, and his trio of stars, running back Brandon Gainer (Kentucky), offensive lineman Jose Jose (USF) and receiver Joshua Reese (UCF), the Rockets should reload, aided by a pair of transfers.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler, transfers from Miami Springs, will look to fill the shoes of both Reese and Godfrey.
Cato, a senior, threw for 2,777 yards and 37 touchdowns, while Shuler had 73 catches for 1,216 yards and 16 scores. Charles Gaines was one of Central’s top pass-catchers last year, catching 24 passes for 440 yards and eight touchdowns. Gaines was also first-team All-Miami-Dade County selection as a sophomore.
Running back Devonte Freeman, a Florida State commit, will look to fill Gainer’s shoes. Last season, Freeman rushed for 545 yards on 70 carries with two scores (averaging 8 yards per carry).
Big games: Aug. 27 at Ely; Sept. 23 vs. Miami Springs; Oct. 8, at Northwestern
Other notable Class 6A players including last season's statistics:
RB, Kevin Grooms (South Broward-Hollywood): The senior rushed for 1,625 yards on 174 carries and 17 touchdowns.
WR, Anthony Drayton, (Stranahan-Fort Lauderdale): The senior had 43 catches for 723 yards and 11 touchdowns.
WR, Avery Johnson, (Ely-Pompano Beach): The junior had 50 catches for 705 yards and seven touchdowns.
DL, Ryan Shazier (Plantation): The Florida-commit had 87 tackles, 19 sacks and two forced fumbles.
DL, Bryant Dubose, (Northeast-Oakland Park): The senior recorded 55 tackles, 11 sacks and three forced fumbles.
DL, Anthony Rabasa, (Columbus-Miami): The senior recorded 10 sacks.
LB, Marvin Jean, (Krop-Miami): The senior recorded 155 tackles and three sacks.
LB, Denzel Perryman, (Coral Gables): The senior had 126 tackles (80 solo).