Pace flag football team set for state quarterfinals

 

If you go

What: State flag football championships.

When: Friday-Saturday.

Where: Osceola High School, 420 South Thacker Ave., Kissimmee.

Admission: $8 per session.

Defending state champion: Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge.

Friday’s quarterfinals: Tallahassee FAMU vs. Jacksonville Mandarin, 4; Tarpon Springs vs. Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge, 5:30; Tampa Robinson vs. Orlando Dr. Phillips, 7; Delray Beach Atlantic vs. Miami Monsignor Pace, 8:30.

Saturday’s semifinals: 9 and 10:30 a.m.; Championship: 7.


Special to The Miami Herald

Every year since 1997, Broward County schools compete in the Miami Dolphins’ annual Girls’ High School Flag Football Jamboree at the Doctor’s Hospital Training Facility in Davie.

In March, four Miami-Dade teams, including Monsignor Pace, participated for the first time. Coach John M. Rodriguez’s squad didn’t play until the last session, which gave he and his assistants ample time to watch the other games.

Toward the end of the day, they all agreed on one thing: “We looked at each other and said, ‘We could hang and play with any of those teams,’ ” Rodriguez said.

Two months later, the Spartans (16-0) face Delray Beach Atlantic at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Osceola High School in Kissimmee in the FHSAA state quarterfinals.

It marks the furthest any Miami-Dade program has reached in the flag football postseason.

What’s surprising for Pace is that Rodriguez considered it to be a rebuilding year after six significant players graduated from a talented 2012 team. That squad lost 14-7 in four overtimes to Archbishop McCarthy in the first-round play-in.

“We started this season not knowing how good we were going to be because we had a lot of players who hadn’t played a lot in the past,” Rodriguez said. “We were able to add on some incoming freshmen that turned out to be phenomenal and seniors who contributed significantly to our success.”

The Spartans have gotten it done with a remarkable point differential — just 20 points allowed and more than 500 scored.

Sophomore quarterback Sabrina Cabrera, who has compiled 60 total touchdowns, decided to try out for the team last year when she enjoyed powder puff football during homecoming weekend.

“Last year’s quarterback told me to believe in myself, God, let everything happen, trust my gut,” Cabrera said. “It has stayed with me and helped me.”

Having several outlets to look for on the field, including freshman Destiny Wilson and senior Brandi Harrington, has also eased Cabrera into her role.

On defense, senior linebacker Ja’Torria Washington said the unit sets a goal of shutting out each opponent and preventing it from reaching its own 40-yard line.

“The reason we’re able to click so well is they all vibe off each other,” senior cornerback Aislinn Jolicoeur said of the offense. “That vibes off the defense. The offense might not be having a great game and the defense has to pick it up and then help us out. It’s a whole team effort.”

During the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Spartans have beaten Dade’s Mater Academy 19-0 and Broward’s Everglades 13-0 and Stranahan 26-7.

Despite a perfect record, Rodriguez’s players heard from friends outside the county that Dade teams had earned a reputation for competing in a weak area. Two steps from a state title, Pace hopes to continue to change that perception.

“Everyone always remembers the first time, not the second time,” Washington said. “The first person is the one to kick-start it making history. If we do all of our jobs as players and as a team, we’ll be a team of history, come back and represent Miami and Monsignor Pace.”

BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL

•  District 14 semifinal — Columbus d. Ransom Everglades 19-25, 25-13, 25-13, 23-25, 15-8: Ian Robinson’s statistics weren’t impressive — just five kills, two blocks — but he is the biggest reason why Columbus’ volleyball season continues on and that of host Ransom Everglades ended.

Columbus coach Greg Villareal gave Robinson lots of credit for his play as the Explorers defeated Ransom.

Ransom coach Roger Peluso said pretty much the same thing when he noted that Columbus made the “adjustment” by putting the 6-4 Robinson on his star outside hitter, 6-3 Victor Campano.

“The last time we played them, they put a smaller kid on Victor,” said Peluso, whose team finished its season 10-15 but with earlier wins over two of the better teams in the county — Columbus and Southwest.

Villareal said that the smaller kid Peluso referred to is only 5-8, but he had at that time beaten out Robinson, who was inconsistent earlier in the season.

This time, though, with Robinson in the lineup, Campano was neutralized, Villareal said.

“Ian didn’t get a ton of blocks, but he disrupted [Campano],” Villareal said. “Ian frustrated him. It got to the point that they had to take their kid out for a bit because he didn’t know to respond to Ian.”

With Robinson doing the dirty work, that freed up some of his teammates, including J.T. Will, who had 16 kills and 9 digs, and Ryan Navarro (11 digs).

Next up for Columbus (16-8) is Friday’s district final at Ransom against top seed Southwest (20-5).

Regardless of what happens in that match, though, Villareal said his team has already exceeded expectations after graduating seven seniors and returning only one starter from last season.

“After going to the state semifinals last year and the state quarterfinals two years ago, I looked at this as a rebuilding season,” Villareal said. “But we’ve done more than that already.”

WALTER VILLA

MORE BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL

•  District 12 semifinal — Hialeah Miami Lakes d. Pace 25-21, 25-12, 25-16: Dennis Perez 31 assists, 7 digs, 14 service points. Gus Pena 13 kills, 9 digs, 3 blocks. Manny Celestino 11 kills, 14 digs. HML 14-5.

POSTPONEMENTS

Inclement weather forced the postponement of several regional baseball and softball playoff games.

Here’s a look at what regional quarterfinal games were rescheduled for Thursday.

BASEBALL

Region 4-8A: Coral Gables at American, 11 a.m.

Region 4-8A at Alex Fernandez: Hialeah at Goleman, 2

Region 4-8A: South Dade at Sunset, 11 a.m.

Region 3-8A: Cypress Bay at Douglas, 1

Region 3-8A: Coral Glades at Flanagan, 1

Region 4-6A: Belen at Archbishop McCarthy, 7

Region 4-6A at Westland Gardens Park: Pembroke Pines Charter at Mater Academy, 11 a.m.

Region 4-4A at St. Thomas University: Gulliver at La Salle, 11 a.m.

Region 4-4A: TERRA at St. Brendan, 11 a.m.

Region 4-4A: North Broward Prep at Monsignor Pace, 7

Region 4-2A at Miami Christian: Redland Christian vs. Brito, 10 a.m.

SOFTBALL

Region 4-8A: American at Goleman, 11 a.m.

Region 4-6A at Bucky Dent Park: Pembroke Pines Charter at Mater Academy, 6

Region 4-2A: Zion Lutheran at Sheridan Hills Christian, 2

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE

BASEBALL

Region 4-8A quarterfinal:

Region 4-8A quarterfinal at Alex Fernandez:

Region 4-8A quarterfinal:

Region 3-8A quarterfinal:

Region 3-8A quarterfinal:

Region 4-7A quarterfinal: Monarch at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7

Region 4-7A quarterfinal: Nova at Northeast, 7

Region 4-6A quarterfinal:

Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Westland Gardens Park:

Region 4-5A quarterfinal: Riviera Beach Suncoast at American Heritage, 7

Region 4-5A quarterfinal: Pompano Beach at Jensen Beach, 7

Region 4-4A quarterfinal at St. Thomas University:

Region 4-4A quarterfinal:

Region 4-4A quarterfinal:

Region 4-3A quarterfinal at Florida Memorial: Mater Lakes vs. Westminster Christian, 4

Region 4-3A quarterfinal: Dade Christian at Florida Christian, 7

Region 4-3A quarterfinal: Delray American Heritage at Coral Springs Christian, 7

Region 4-3A quarterfinal: Highlands Christian at Boca Raton Pope John Paul II, 7

Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Miami Christian:

Region 4-2A quarterfinal: Westwood Christian at Colonial Christian, 4

Region 4-2A quarterfinal: Champagnat Catholic at Zion Lutheran, 3:30

Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Curtis Park: Sheridan Hills Christian at Mater East, 7

Region 4-8A semifinal:

Region 4-6A semifinal at Bucky Dent Park:

Region 4-2A semifinal:

BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL

District 8 final at Taravella: 7

District 9 final at Cardinal Gibbons: Cardinal Gibbons vs. St Thomas Aquinas, 6

District 12 final at Mourning: Hialeah Miami Lakes at Mourning, 5

District 15 final at Braddock: Varela vs. Sunset, 7

District 16 final at Palmetto: Palmetto vs. Coral Reef, 6

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

TRACK AND FIELD

Class 3A state meet at University of North Florida

SOFTBALL

Region 3-8A final: Palm Beach Central at Cypress Bay, 7

Region 4-7A final: St. Thomas Aquinas at West Boca Raton, 7

Region 4-5A final: Lemon Bay at Plantation American Heritage, 7

Region 4-3A final: Westminster Christian at Delray American Heritage, 7

BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL

District 14 final at Ransom Everglades: 7

FLAG FOOTBALL

State quarterfinal at Kissimmee Osceola: Monsignor Pace vs. Delray Beach Atlantic, TBA

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

TRACK AND FIELD

Class 4A state meet at University of North Florida

FLAG FOOTBALL

State championship at Kissimmee Osceola

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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