In my opinion

Dellenbach lays down solid foundation for success



They came to see American Heritage’s Sony Michel run the ball. They had heard about the nation’s best Class of 2014 running back. But what the football fans in Sebring would see over the next three hours was the rebirth of a program that is building — at a high level — for the long haul.

Under the direction of former NFL standout lineman Jeff Dellenbach, the Plantation American Heritage Patriots have more than laid down a solid foundation. Although Byron Walker had always put together a quality program through the many years at the school, it’s tough to match the prospects this program has on the field this season.

No matter what happens in the playoffs — and strange things can take place — this is a team that is indeed putting together a professional style program, which includes a head coach who played in the NFL for 16 years.

Dellenbach learned plenty from his pro coaches Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells and the legendary Don Shula, so he and his staff have taken the same approach, and the results were positive all season.

With all eyes on the talented Michel (and for good reason), this year was also about a number of big-time prospects who elevated their game. Michel had 94 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 55 yards receiving in the Patriots’ 55-7 victory over Sebring in September.

Other players to look for are linebacker Michael Deeb (Notre Dame commit), quarterback Tyler Cogswell (Arkansas) and Tyler Carmona, who at 6-5, 200 pounds is a mismatch for any secondary.

Other seniors such as speedy Walter Tucker (linebacker/running back), safety Bryant Gross-Armiento, Khari Herbert (WR/DB), fullback Victor Ferrera, defensive end Mark Aguillar and defensive lineman Darius Holiday have been huge, and each has attracted college attention.

But this is also about an underclass that has not only been able to pick up the system that Dellenbach and his staff spend year-round improving, but they have grasped it like major prospects do, and have been recognized for it.

Junior receiver/defensive back and return specialist Isaiah McKenzie is a 5-8, 165-pound game-changer — at any level. His more than 1,000 all purpose yards backs that up. So is sophomore Torrance Gibson, a 6-3, 195-pounder who could be as good as any player in the state. Receiver, safety, quarterback; he can play them all, and play them all well.

Another marquee prospect is junior safety Carter Jacobs. At 6-1, 185 pounds, this playmaker is one of the fastest-rising players around. He is fast and always around the ball..

Other underclassmen that will keep this program rolling include junior kicker Scott Wade; sophomore running back Travis Jackson, sophomore linebacker Anthony Flory and sophomore tight end Mark Kazdan; and freshman Brandon Johnson, a 6-2, 180-pounder who is the son of former UM and Florida Marlins catcher Charles Johnson.

“You look at the coaching and talent this program has, and they will be around for a long time,” said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. “Coach Dellenbach has surrounded himself with former players like Tony Nathan and Mike Rumph and coaches who have been doing this for a long time.”

Running ahead

At the start of the season, players such as Joseph Yearby, Alex Collins, Sony Michel, Fred Coppet and other top-flight rushers were mentioned as having the best chance to be the “best” running back in South Florida.

After winning the title last year as a sophomore, Yearby seemed like a shoe-in to repeat this season. Never happened.

Instead, Keenan Springer, a running back for surprising Miami Reagan, jumped over all the top backs to put his name where some of the best have graced football fields across Miami-Dade and Broward counties

If you are wondering, Springer had 1,328 yards and 19 touchdowns. Collins (1,263) from South Plantation, Michel (1,170), Northwestern’s Darius Tice (1,136) and Darius Hoggins (1,134) from Monarch round out this year’s top five runners. Keep an eye on all these players.

We are always looking to help promote 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? Email Follow Larry on Twitter at /larryblustein.

Read more Larry Blustein stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    Flanagan football team a true contender

    Devin Bush remembers when it happened. The time and place where his Flanagan High football program had finally turned that corner and became a team that was no longer a pretender in the race to get to the state championship game.

Columbus High football coach Chris Merritt.

    In My Opinion

    Columbus High football has abundance of talent, experience

    When Miami Columbus head coach Chris Merritt and his assistants looked back on the 2013 football season, the lack of experience jumped out as the reason his team failed to win the district and posted an “average” 7-5 record.

  • In My Opinion

    Despite losing coach and senior talent, Miramar poised to reload

    Although this program has been one of the best in Florida over the past five years, some felt that Miramar might fall from the elite this upcoming season after losing coach Damon Cogdell and a quality class of seniors.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category