• His versatility (quarterback, wide receiver, punter, defensive back) with a penchant for the unpredictable. A 77-yard kickoff return and a fake fourth-and-12 punt from his own 38 that stunned even Kotys provided a 13-6 victory against Miami High in their 1964 classic.
• The high visibility accorded high school football during Rentz’ era. Without pro football franchises in the state, sports fans treated prep football on a par with college teams. For the ’64 Gables-Miami High game, the Orange Bowl crowd was 28,360.
Rentz’ 21 consecutive victories and performances against Miami High remain indelibly etched in that rivalry. So much so that when he showed up to collect a Miami High Hall of Fame jacket on behalf of his ailing uncle, Frank Rentz, at a banquet a few years ago, the master of ceremonies, felt compelled to caution, “now Larry, the only reason why you’re here is because of Frank. We’re going to give you this jacket, but you’re not allowed to wear it.”
Even Spurrier, always primed for the last word, enjoys teasing about Rentz’ role as the holder for Spurrier’s game-winning 40-yard field goal against Auburn that might have cemented Spurrier’s Heisman Trophy in 1966. “Great kick, terrible hold,” Spurrier told a Jacksonville writer several years ago. “The laces were facing me.”
Well before Rentz began his multi-sport career at Coral Gables High, friends saw special skills. As eighth graders, Rentz and John Norris would trek to a park on Rickenbacker Causeway and walk along the seawall that abutted against the first bridge leading to Key Biscayne. “Larry would have a jig — a spear with a rope on it — and spot and spear fish,” Norris recalled recently, “None of us could even come close to his ability to do that.”
Rentz and his brother Carl went fly fishing for tarpon out of a 17-foot back country skiff that could run over 70 MPH. His brother’s three-hour battle with a 200-pound tarpon on a fly rod is still etched in his memory. “He had’em in the boat,” Rentz recalls. “And Cecil Keith, a professional guide, gaffed the fish, but the fish jumped off the gaff and in doing so broke three of Cecil’s ribs.”
Rentz also played basketball and baseball at Gables and once was hastily recruited as a fill-in for the high jump at a sectional track meet in Fort Lauderdale and then proceeded to win the event, at 6 feet 2 inches, although he had never high-jumped before. He played golf well enough for his uncle to suggest he could succeed on the pro tour with practice (“but I hated just hitting balls,” Rentz now says). He still enjoys fishing and hunting upstate for deer, wild turkeys, groundhogs and duck but says “in my early years — 20s and 30s — I would pull the trigger, but now I don’t care to kill anything.”
It was not what Rentz did in leading Gables to consecutive state football titles in 1963 and 1964 (the first years of statewide playoffs) but how he did it, “I remember him as one of those people who make spectacular things look easy,” said Larry Davidson, who kicked the game-winning field goal against Tampa Robinson in the 1963 championship game after Rentz scored two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 44 yards to set up the field goal in the final 15 seconds. “Larry wasn’t the kind of kid who would brag about how much or how little he worked out. But I can tell you that at the end of practices when we did wind sprints — he was always at the head of the pack.”