As he stands on the sideline on the football field at Nova, less than an hour before the biggest game of his season — one that many believe could be the eventual 3A title game against American Heritage Delray, Roger Harriott is cool and very much collected.
The only head football coach University School has ever had, this is someone who had a plan — from the day he stepped on campus — to have his football program in the position it’s been at the past three years.
Harriott didn’t just arrive from nowhere. This was a productive running back at St. Thomas Aquinas and collegiately at Boston University and Villanova. He has been equally as productive as a head football coach is one of the guys.
When discipline is needed, Harriott will get after his players, but the thing that earns him more respect than anything is his ability too relate to and be father figure to every player on that roster.
“Coach Harriott is one of those coaches who knows what we are all going through,” said senior receiver Jordan Cunningham. “All he asks is that you do things the proven way and take no shortcuts.”
You are not talking about the average coach, here. This is an educated leader who has fun and makes sure those around him have the same fun. This is a coach who was offered the Syracuse University running backs coaching position two years ago, and he took it. But as soon as he accepted and headed to a very successful program in the making, Harriott knew his heart was in South Florida - with his family and a program he constructed from scratch.
Harriott knows how to run a tight ship and has done it since the program was started with “regular” students, most never playing the sport competitively.
“Nine-one with players who never played the game,” Harriott challenged. “That has to be one of the most overlooked things we have done.”
Nobody can argue, even with a roster of major college talent, running off nine wins, in the first season — without any proven players — was quite an achievement. But what it did was set the table for a decent six year run that has unveiled one of the most talent-filled teams in the state.
This team is different than the others. Not that anything is a for sure, but you have to look at the superior football prospects that this program has.
To me, I have said it all along that outside linebacker Nick Internicola may be the best defensive player, right now, in South Florida. The Rutgers bound standout comes up huge in every game. Big time potential that everyone has started to notice.
As impressive as Internicola has been, the Suns also have a major list of talent, starting on offense with Cunningham, a three-year starter. The 6-2, 180-pounder is a product of this school since the beginning. One of the scholar athletes in this program who have proven they belong, and to see Miami and Stanford continue to push for his services as a student/athlete is not a mistake.
As impressive as Cunningham is as a pass-catcher, sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett (6-0, 200) is as good as you get at any level, nationally. A player who is still learning and getting stronger. He is 4.36 (40) kind of fast as well.
In addition, senior quarterback Mike White, receivers Dionte Taylor, Donnice Woods and offensive lineman Jordan Budwig; junior running back LaJuan Hunt and receiver Emmanuel Soto; and freshman receiver/kick returner Sam Bruce are all special as well.