I was trying to think driving back from Fort Lauderdale last Friday night when was the last time I had so much fun covering Miami Springs football.
I had to go back two decades during a memorable 1993 season when a small group of 29 overachieving kids lit up the high school landscape by going 11-0 before falling to eventual state champ Southridge in the second round of the playoffs.
Since then, it had been 19 consecutive seasons (they did make the playoffs in 1995 but that was a 5-5 team) of, well, not much.
Some nice players along the way, led by Willis McGahee (1996-98), Devin Aromashodu (1998-2001) and most notably T.Y. Hilton (2004-07) but not much in the way of team accomplishments and seasons of underachieving when it came to making the postseason.
Then, of course, the bottom fell out two years ago and we’ve beaten that horse a million times, so we won’t bother making it a million and one.
And then, like a brand new beautiful sunrise after a very dark stormy night, the story of the 2013 Miami Springs Golden Hawks football team arrived, and what a story it turned out to be.
A winless team in 2011, a one-win team in 2012. What possibly could we have expected last summer?
The reality of the situation is that if you had pinned head coach Darryel Bethune in a corner and injected him with truth serum, the best prediction you might have gotten out of him was perhaps 5-5. Ditto for me.
A new district alignment for the Hawks last spring was favorable, with only American considered a heavyweight, so Springs entered the season with a handful of winnable games.
But 7-3 and the playoffs? No way! And we might add that a pair of last-second losses to American and Ferguson kept them from possibly 9-1 and a district title.
One had to wonder if a .500 season was even achievable after the season opened with a lopsided 32-0 loss to Hialeah. But then came a bunch of “soft,” winnable games early in the season against Hialeah Gardens, Edison, Westland Hialeah, Hialeah-Miami Lakes and Goleman, which allowed the Hawks to gain confidence every week and suddenly they were 5-1 and in the thick of the district title race with American and Mater Academy.
After a heartbreaking loss to American on a field goal with five seconds left came the team’s most exciting victory in more than a decade when Miami Springs edged Mater by one point (35-34) in an overtime thriller that ultimately was the difference between playoffs and no playoffs.
The 56-0 loss to Aquinas last week? Forget it. That one was coming like a freight train in a tunnel and, truth be told, Aquinas has done that to many an opponent over the years.
Somehow, someway, Bethune, who basically started a program from ground zero when he arrived here 22 months ago, pulled it off. Congrats to him, his coaching staff and the likes of quarterback Gerald Anderson, running back Malik Thomas, who finished third in the county in rushing, and a group of hard-working dedicated kids who pulled together and proved all the doubters wrong.