As Earl Sims watched his young football team compete during the spring and summer, he was comforted by the fact that there are eight seniors who will also lead his Gulliver Prep squad this season.
Taking part in the final 7-on-7 event of the summer at Archbishop Carroll last weekend, Sims and the Raiders have been preparing for the 2012 season since they were knocked out of the playoffs against district rival and 4A powerhouse Booker T. Washington last season.
This is a district that will test this team — with Monsignor Pace and Edison also doing very well in the spring and throughout the summer.
“We know that this is not going to be easy,” Sims said. “We set our schedule up to play tough teams so we will be ready when the district rolls around.”
The Raiders have a number of seniors returning to the lineup this season. Leading the way is defensive end/receiver Stacey Thomas (6-2, 230), who has received more than 35 offers.
Thomas is one of those rare prospects who could line up at one of three positions at the next level. During the summer, he has gotten bigger and stronger.
In addition, the class of 2013 boasts running back Bo Ellis (5-8, 185), defensive back Markeith Cooper (5-8, 165), safety/running back Errol Jackson (5-7, 170), receiver Kody Schnebly, and linemen Jordi Dalmau (6-2, 290), Grant Siegel (6-4, 270) and center Ryan Caparello.
Ellis is starting to receiver more offers, and Dalmau an All-State selection a year ago, has made the most of his offseason, attending events such as the Davin Joseph Offensive Line Camp.
With solid senior leadership in place, the Raiders trot out one of the most impressive group of underclassmen around. The class of 2014 class features big time prospects such as receiver Cornelius Floyd (6-1, 170), who is coming off a knee injury last year. He is expected to be at the same level as the elite junior prospects who have already been offered and promoted.
In addition, the junior class has speedy running back/defensive back Mitch Davis (5-7, 150), lineman Braynon Edwards (6-3, 335) and Booker T. Washington transfer Alonzo Fanakos, a 5-10, 185-pound quarterback. Fanakos is an accurate passer who moves the offense. He saw playing time for the Tornadoes last year — following a tremendous youth career at Scott Lake.
“We have to believe that with the young men we have in our junior and senior classes, we certainly have enough talent to compete with anyone,” Sims said. “Our youth may hurt us early, but I expect that these young men have grown up plenty during the summer.”
Class of 2015 standouts such as linebacker/receiver Dominic Sheppard (6-2, 215) and safety Antonio Sotolongo (6-1, 175) are expected to be regional and national recruits. Both have been tremendous during the summer. So has receiver Chris Guggenheim (6-2, 175).
Sheppard is one of those prospects who will blow up over the next year, making him one of the most sought after players in South Florida. His size, speed and athleticism have pushed him into a early spotlight.
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current class of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. All you have to do is send a DVD and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein, P.O. Box 3181, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009.