Coaching could give Coral Reef an edge this year


Coral Reef has put together an experienced coaching staff in its quest to win the District 16-8A title.

The Coral Reef Barracudas end their third day of practice Wednesday with a prayer led by coach Chevas Clements (gray shirt) on August 7, 2013.
The Coral Reef Barracudas end their third day of practice Wednesday with a prayer led by coach Chevas Clements (gray shirt) on August 7, 2013.
Safid Deen / Miami Herald Staff

Entering his sixth season at the school, Coral Reef coach Chevas Clements takes pride in having a well-rounded program, not just a team.

In the past year, he and the Coral Reef administration have hired several former South Florida coaches to help the Barracudas reach the playoffs for the third time in school history and first since 2011.

Coral Reef athletic director Deb Margolis confirmed the hiring of former Northwestern coach Billy Rolle during a phone interview with the Miami Herald on Wednesday. Rolle has been a part of the Barracudas’ program since its first practice Monday.

Along with former Southridge coach Lamont Evans and former FIU grad assistant Chris Harzinski, the Barracudas are looking to make a run past Miami Killian, Miami Palmetto, Miami Southridge and South Dade to the District 16-8A title.

“We’re trying to compete for a district championship,” Clements said after the Barracudas’ third practice of the season Wednesday. “That’s got to be our first goal.

“We’re just working hard. This is my sixth season in, and in my opinion, we should be trying to be among the elite in the county and in the state because that’s what it’s about — building a program.

Clements called Rolle “a mentor of mine” from their days together at Killian and said his addition along with Green and Harzinski gives him more people to discuss plays with and bring some wisdom to the table.

Rolle resigned from the head coaching position at Northwestern in December 2011 after leading the Bulls to state championships in 1998 and 2007. He also led Killian to a state championship in 2004.

Green, a former Florida State defensive end, joined the Barracudas staff as a defensive line coach after a 3-7 season last year at his alma mater Southridge, where he led the Spartans to a state title in 1994.

Harzinski, who played at Killian for Clements and Rolle, joined the staff in January and is coaching the receivers after his time working under former FIU coach Mario Cristobal.

“It’s very hard to put together good staffs these days because of the hiring process of the county,” Clements said. “So it’s good to just get [coaches] that love the game and put in the time it takes to be successful.”

The Barracudas are looking for big contributions from their seniors, including quarterback Nicodem Pierre, wide receiver Jacob McCrary, defensive back Marcus Leslie and defensive linemen Sterling Shipley and Devonte Jones.

Pierre and Shipley love the addition Green brings, helping the defensive and offensive linemen improve each day.

“We needed a consistent coach, and he’s here,” said Shipley, a 6-1, 260-pounder who claimed a scholarship offer from FAMU. “I feel like I’m getting better already. We have a coach that can bring us together even more, so it’s a blessing. [I have] to thank God for bringing us this good coach and, hopefully, by the time the season comes, we’ll be ready to roll.”

Pierre, who is verbally committed to Duke, said the team’s work in 7-on-7 tournaments during the offseason helped the offense become more “crisp” in its execution.

“Everything we did throughout the summer, we are trying to transition into the season, and it’s looking pretty good to us right now,” Pierre said.

The Barracudas, who play their home games at Southridge, begin their season on Aug. 29 at home against Varela. Other nondistrict opponents include Cooper City, Coral Gables, North Miami, Hialeah and powerhouse Miami Central.

Jones, who has been a starter since his sophomore year and has played a number of positions, including defensive end, linebacker and fullback, said the Barracudas have what it takes to compete with any opponent this season.

“If we go out there and do what we got to do, we can compete with anybody,” Jones said. “I don’t care if you’re Central. I don’t care if you’re Varela. If you’re strapping on your shoulder pads like how we’re strapping on our shoulder pads — we’re ready.”

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