High school football

Diminutive McKenzie shines for American Heritage on big stage


Plantation American Heritage’s Isaiah McKenzie had a dynamic 60-yard touchdown catch and run in a 38-14 victory over Cypress Bay on national TV.

A group of Cypress Bay defenders try to run down American Heritage running back Isaiah McKenzie (5) during their ESPN-televised game at Cypress Bay High School in Weston on Aug. 25, 2013.
A group of Cypress Bay defenders try to run down American Heritage running back Isaiah McKenzie (5) during their ESPN-televised game at Cypress Bay High School in Weston on Aug. 25, 2013.
Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff


The day after Miami Booker T. Washington made its presence felt among the elite high school football teams in the country, four more South Florida schools got the chance to play in front of a national TV audience with several standout players shining above the rest.

Plantation American Heritage’s Isaiah McKenzie, an undersized receiver at 5-9 and 170 pounds, stood above them all as his dynamic speed and quick decision-making stole the show during the Patriots’ 38-14 victory over host Cypress Bay during ESPN’s High School Football Kickoff on Sunday.

In the first game, Davie University School beat Homestead 41-21.

McKenzie owned the play of the day, scoring a 60-yard touchdown on a left-wide receiver screen after running to the right sideline and then deciding to finish off the way he started down the left sideline. The play, which gave Heritage a 24-7 lead heading into halftime, was his only touchdown as he had two more explosive touchdowns discounted because of penalties.

“Even though I’m small, I can do a lot of things,” McKenzie said. “Nothing is impossible to me.

“I was just trying to make a big play because I knew it was before the half and it’s usually what I do. I just took it cross field, took it back and had a couple of good blocks.”

McKenzie received help from his teammates, Georgia running back commit Sony Michel and junior quarterback Torrance Gibson, who were instrumental parts of Heritage’s offense during the game. Heritage scored on two of its first four plays, with Gibson connecting on an 80-yard catch and run by Dallas Perez and running back Travis Jackson scoring on a 64-yard run. Michel and Gibson finished the day with two touchdowns apiece.

In the opener, Sean White, Christian Taylor and Jordan Scarlett propelled Davie University School past University of Florida commit Ermon Lane, Maurice Alexander and the Homestead Broncos.

White, an Auburn University oral commit, had a shaky contest, finishing 16 of 25 for 139 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Taylor, a Duke oral commit, caught all three touchdowns from White, finishing with eight receptions for 93 yards. Scarlett finished with 20 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.

White said his “misreads” came from Homestead’s zone defense, which was putting extra attention on sophomore receiver Sam Bruce, who finished with four catches for 64 yards.

“I have no doubt we’ll clean those up, and we’ll be fine going into the season,” White said.

As for Homestead, Alexander and Lane had a tough time dealing with the University School defense in its first scrimmage as a team all summer, with two interceptions coming from Devante Davis and one from Lane.

Alexander finished 28 of 45 for 291 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. As for Lane, who sprained his right ankle on the first play of the game and had cramps throughout, he finished with just four catches for 42 yards.

Lane, considered the second-best wide receiver in the country by several media outlets, was matched up with good friend and fellow UF commit, cornerback Quincy Wilson during the game. The two shared barbs during the game and celebrated their interceptions with bombastic Gator chomps after the plays.

“We were jawing back and forth a little bit,” said Wilson, who returned his interception 22 yards for a score. “It’s a big game. He’s never going to [play] soft because we’re friends.”

University School opens its season at Taravella on Friday, and Heritage hosts Miami Central on the same day.

Michel said his team will be ready for the Rockets, who dominated Palm Beach Dwyer 44-13 in a preseason road win on Saturday.

“We just going into the game and we’re probably just going to get that W,” he said. “That’s what we’re going for --- to get that W.”

•  Late Saturday — Keys Gate 30, Gateway Charter 6: Senior linebacker Aaron Givens had six tackles and an interception. Senior Zach Ward threw three touchdown passes — two to Octavious Harbin and the other to Lanier Davis.

•  Late Friday — Barrington Christian 24, Florida Christian 20: The Falcons dominated on the ground, amassing 440 yards. Junior fullback Theodore Lott led the Falcons with three rushing touchdowns and 110 yards on 15 carries.

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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