Miami Dolphins’ High School football media day

Top local athletes get their moment at Miami Dolphins’ High School Football Media Day

 

Much of South Florida’s high school football community joined in the event hosted by the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

You wouldn’t catch Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson and defensive back Tarvarus McFadden on the football field at the same time during a game.

But the Patriots’ touted senior duo took a moment to act like comedians Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

Each grabbed the microphone and made the other laugh during one of the interviews they shared with local media during the Miami Dolphins’ High School Football Media Day.

For the second year in a row, South Florida’s best high school football teams took a break from crashing helmets and shoulder pads to enjoy the spotlight for a few hours as they prepared for the upcoming season.

“It’s exciting for these kids to see the underbelly of this stadium, because they go to games whether it’s the Dolphins or the [University of Miami],” Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons coach Mike Morrill said. “It’s a thrill for them to be here.”

The event that spanned roughly nine hours welcomed players and coaches from 77 Miami-Dade and Broward County teams including defending national champion Miami Booker T. Washington and defending state champions American Heritage, Miami Central and Hialeah Champagnat Catholic.

Teams brought anywhere from five to as many as 17 players to the event, which gave the area’s top players a chance to meet and greet members of local and national media outlets as well as their peers at other schools.

HIGHLIGHTS

The highest contingent belonged to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, which brought 17 players including several of its stalwarts such as defensive end Nick Bosa, running back Jordan Scarlett and receivers Sam Bruce and Devante Peete.

The Raiders, already ranked in the top five nationally by multiple polls to open the season, are expected to contend for the school’s third national championship this season. Aquinas has opened the past two seasons with victories at Sun Life Stadium and will try to make it three in a row Aug. 29 as it takes on American Heritage in a major showdown of national title contenders.

The players also were given a tour of the Dolphins’ locker room at the stadium and were treated to interviews in a news conference setting.

Many of them took the chance to take pictures with teammates and later post them on social media to revel in the event.

Coconut Creek, a team expected to be among Broward County’s more improved this season, dressed in polo shirts — a contrast from every other school wearing their game-day jerseys.

The Cougars later posted a picture on their team’s Twitter page with the hashtag #trendsetters.

Also, two of the longest tenured coaches in Dade and Broward — Miami Belen Jesuit’s Rich Stuart (entering his 32nd season) and Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy’s Byron Walker (entering his 38th season) — visited with each other and shared a long conversation during the event.

REACTION

A hot topic entering the week was the announcement that Miami-Dade County would seek to begin implementing steroid testing in high school sports.

All of the 250-plus athletes asked to fill out questionnaires at the event said they had never taken steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. And most said they would be in favor of a random testing program.

One Miami-Dade public school official told the Miami Herald this week that the program likely wouldn’t be implemented until the winter sports season, however.

Although Morrill, Stuart and Miami La Salle coach Willie Trimmer each said Saturday that their schools have randomly tested for steroids in the past.

FRESH STARTS

Former Plantation coach Frank Hepler, recently hired at Davie Nova, former Miami Edison coach Trevor Harris (now at North Miami Beach Mourning), former Westland Hialeah coach Mike Manasco (now at Miami Palmetto), former Miami Northwestern and Miami Killian coach Billy Rolle (now at Miami Coral Reef) as well as Eddie Alford (Archbishop Carroll) and Aaron Harris (Miami Beach) were among the coaches in attendance who will start the 2014 season at new schools.

NEW-LOOK FALCONS

Other teams such as Pembroke Pines Flanagan, one of the top contenders this season in Class 8A, used the day to debut new eye-catching, lime-colored jerseys.

The Falcons, who made the playoffs for the first time last season, also wore gear with the name “dirty birds” on them, a nickname they said coach Devin Bush came up with for this season.

Flanagan capped the carousel of teams in the afternoon as it showed why it is expected to contend with teams such as Miramar, Coconut Creek Monarch, Deerfield Beach, Coral Gables, Miami Columbus, Miami Killian and defending state champion Homestead South Dade for a shot at a title this season.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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