There is no need to tell Harold Barnwell about his district. The veteran Carol City coach has heard all about it the past year.
That’s why as the season begins this week, his Chiefs have to believe that no matter how many powers such as Central, Northwestern, Belen Jesuit and Homestead you crunch into this prospect rich district, his team has a chance to win every time they step on the field.
While last week’s 21-7 win over the defending 5A state champion Norland Vikings in a preseason classic, is always nice to talk about, the win over a program that has plenty of holes to fill, is just the tip of what Carol City believes will be a very productive year.
One of the traditional powers in South Florida and statewide through much of the 70s, 80s and parts of the 90s, Carol City has always had the athletes. But in recent years, many have left the area, leaving this team thin at many positions. Still, every time they put on those black, orange and white uniforms, there is still that respect factor.
After missing out on a playoff appearance last year, Barnwell and the Chiefs went to work, developing the seniors they had one the roster, while teaching many of the underclassmen. It became a year-round commitment.
For years, Carol City was never a program you would see at 7-on-7 tournaments or camps, but things changed the past two years, and this spring and summer, this was a team that was as visible as any.
“We felt that this what was needed to keep this program on track,” Barnwell said. “It’s still very much a work in progress, but I think the players on this team understand that what you put into the game, you get back.”
Carol City’s offseason took them to West Palm Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Orlando, where they took home the individual title, handing rival Booker T. Washington its first loss of the summer.
While several underclassmen are expected to step up and lead this team, the Chiefs are led by seniors — such as standout quarterback Akeem Jones, FIU commit Simeon Thomas (defensive back), and receivers Edward Rolle, Edwin Durassaint, Gregory Conde, Donnie Howard and Devonte McKinnie.
The Class of 2012 also features offensive linemen Antwan Burgess and Akeem Berwick, and tight end Raykeem Poteau.
There are also defensive players such as secondary standouts Dike Lanier, Marvib Marshall, linebacker Tracey Wade, and linemen Carlton Williams, Aaron Thomas and Cameron Fisher.
The junior class is the place where this program will build for the future — as well as use the depth this season.
On offense, there is versatile Trayon Gray, who not only can catch the ball as a receiver, but is considered one of the rising quarterbacks in South Florida.
The offense also boasts running backs Roy Edwards, receivers Theodore Hammonds and Derrell Rolle, and lineman Raekwon Williams.
In addition, there are defensive backs Matthew Whyte, Tyree Johnson, Rodney Walker, Laroy James, Terrence Yancy, Justin James, Christopher Johnson, Alston Ivory, Osband Thompson, linebackers Gerre Barnwell, Kevon Phillips, Devante Roker, and linemen David Burnett, Rondrevious King, Ted Celestin, Donta Davis, Rashad Maine, and Jimmie Pace.
There are also a group of Class of 2015 sophomores and 2016 freshmen who have already made an impression. Players such as defensive backs Ronneldon Ellington and Michael Imani, receiver Edward Loveland, offensive lineman Alkimiss Davis and defensive line prospect Devante Sampson. Freshman defensive lineman Dewanis Huell is also a player to keep an eye on.
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.
Have a comment? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.