Fifteen years after starting up the program, the Doral Academy football team made history Thursday afternoon at North Miami Stadium.
The Firebirds put a 43-0 thumping on Mourning in a District 16-7A matchup and with that, secured the district runnerup spot to lock up a postseason birth, the first ever since they stepped on the field in 2001.
Doral’s first round playoff opponent has already been determined as well as McArthur has already locked up the District 15-7A title and will host the Firebirds at McArthur Stadium in Hollywood on Nov. 11.
“Something like this starts at the top with the administration and the commitment from the top to have a great program with its support and trickles down to my coaching staff, one of the hardest working staffs around,” said first year Doral coach Jase Stewart who came over from Hallandale after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. “One of the things I’ve discovered in being a head coach for the first time is all of the extra, peripheral administrative things you have to do outside of just coaching the team which is where having a great staff under you means so much and obviously it all ultimately comes down to the kids in how hard they work not only on the field but in the classroom.”
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Stewart watched as his Doral team (7-1, 6-1) took control from the start of the game thanks mainly to quarterback Angel Alvarez and running back Javier Zuniga. Alvarez fired a quarterback’s version of a perfect game in the first half, completing 9 of 9 passes for 180 yards and four touchdowns while Zuniga finished his day with 116 yards on nine carries and one score.
“We knew what was at stake today and knew what we were capable of so it was just a matter of coming out here and executing and doing what the coaches told us to do,” said Alvarez who transferred over after three years at Braddock. “Now we’re part of history and it feels great.” I’ve been working since my freshman year to get myself exposed out there and now under Coach (Jase) Stewart it’s a big leap in my football career and look where we are now.”
“It feels amazing,” said Zuniga who led the county in rushing a year ago at Sunset while leading the Knights to their first ever district title. “I actually went through this last year making history at Sunset and it can’t make me any happier to help do it for another program.”
“It’s been a process and we actually have a saying around here and that’s “trust the process,’ said Stewart when asked about all of the meshing the team had to do with so many new faces coming into the program this year. “Everyone believing that if you do things a certain way, you’re going to be successful and not just about football, everything else as well and the kids have bought into that since day one and now we’re playing with a great deal of confidence, not overconfidence but a level of confidence where when we step on the field we can play with anybody and that’s what I’m looking for moving forward.”
Mourning fell to 2-6 overall, 2-5 in the district.