Lamont Finnie Jr. and Johnny Ford have proven to be two of the most explosive offensive players in Miami-Dade County in recent years.
But players such as sophomore receiver Marcus Fleming, who is already getting interest from colleges, displayed the depth and potential Thursday of a Miami High team dreaming about a return to glory this season.
Finnie Jr. and Fleming each caught two touchdown passes, and Ford picked up nearly 200 all-purpose yards in a 49-23 victory over North Miami in the Stingarees’ season opener at Traz Powell Stadium.
Finnie, a 5-10, 170-pound athlete prospect, transferred over from Edison and is being recruited by several schools including Cincinnati, USF and Louisville.
Ford (5-8, 165), a senior, came over from Coral Gables and has close to 10 FBS offers.
Fleming, a 5-9, 155-pound, sophomore, along with a name familiar to Miami High fans, Roscoe Parrish III, are the future of a team with hopes of clinching its first playoff berth since 2010.
Add to that a sizeable offensive line led by 6-3, 323-pound junior guard Dontae Lucas, who is rated the No. 10 guard in the country by 247Sports.com. Lucas has already drawn interest from UM, UF and Alabama.
“Two years from now, Fleming is going to be the next Amari Cooper or next Calvin Ridley,” Miami High coach Sedrick Irvin said. “He’s young, so he’s still going to make young mistakes, but talent-wise, pound for pound, he’s got it.”
▪ Columbus 45, Mater Academy 7: Usually when you graduate 41 seniors off your team, it’s time to rebuild. But when you’re Columbus, you simply reload.
And the Explorers proved just that early as they scored early and often while dominating on defense enroute to a running clock rout of Mater Academy at Columbus High School.
“I was a little disappointed with the turnovers,” said Columbus coach Chris Merritt, whose team had four—three interceptions and a lost fumble. “But overall a pretty solid effort and it’s good to get out of the gate running,”
Merritt watched numerous new faces step up and lead the way was senior quarterback Anthony Arguelles.
Arguelles, who has patiently waited his turn to get on the field the last few years, scored three touchdowns on his feet and threw for one more in one half of work before relinquishing duties to his backups as Columbus led 38-7 at the half.
Arguelles usually gets it done with his arm on the baseball field. As a relief pitcher for the Explorers, he enters his senior year already with numerous baseball offers including Stetson.
“We preach team around here so I’ve had to be patient and wait for my turn and now that I have it, I want to take full advantage of the opportunity,” said Arguelles who completed 5 of 13 for 64 yards while rushing for 40 yards on six carries. “Right now, I have a baseball offer and we’ll see what happens with football. If I get anything, then I’ll make a decision. Right now it’s up in the air.”
“He’s a good kid who’s been patient and waited his turn,” said Merritt. “We feel good about the year ahead for him.”
Someone else Merritt was gushing over was receiver/tight end Gary Cooper, who was on the receiving end of Arguelles’ score, a 24-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
“He’s special,” said Merritt. “A big kid who doesn’t even realize how big he is. He flattened some JV kid yesterday in practice and came over an apologized to me afterwards. I can see a school like Miami using him as a kind of an H-Back.”
Even though he has two years left, Cooper said he’s already gotten many college feelers, including the Hurricanes.
“I just want to go out and have a big year,” said Cooper, who checks in at 6-2, 220. “If Miami will have me, I’d love to wind up there. That’s a long ways away. We’ve got business to take care of this season.”
Columbus’ next order of business will be a big one as the Explorers will square against Northwestern Sept. 1 at Traz Powell Stadium.
▪ Homestead 8, Braddock 0: Homestead defeated Braddock 8-0 to defend its newly renovated home field, Orange Bowl Field at Harris Field Park. The renovations were made possible thanks to a collective effort by the Orange Bowl Committe and the city of Homestead. Thursday was the 25th anniversary of Hurricanes Andrew’s South Florida landfall.
Tonie Dorsey led Homestead with 151 rushing yards on 17 carries. “We got to take it day by day, work harder and harder. We can’t settle for this, it’s just game one,” Dorsey said.
The Broncos’ defense came up big with six sacks and a forced fumble. The defense also forced Braddock to throw ten consecutive incomplete passes. Jonathan St. Jacques scored only points of the first half on a sack-safety.
On the first offensive play of the third quarter, Dorsey broke loose and scored on an 86-yard run to put Homestead up 8-0.
The news was not all good for Homestead as starters Jaeden Suarez and Kevin Butler left the game with apparent knee injuries.
▪ Northeast 26, Hollywood Hills 21: The Hurricanes rallied from a 21-14 halftime deficit to end a 14-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 9, 2015.
Senior Darrick McClary scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with a minute to play and cornerback Casey Smith sealed it with a leaping interception near midfield on the game’s final play.
After sitting out the first quarter with six other Hills starters for disciplinary reasons and watching Northeast build a 14-0 lead, senior Alex Shelton led a comeback.
He intercepted a pass, caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Roman James, scored on a two-yard touchdown run, forced two fumbles and recovered both of them and blocked what would have been the game-tying extra point early in the fourth quarter.
But Northeast pulled to within 21-20 on Shariff Rodriguez’s second touchdown run of the night and then rallied for the victory in new coach Nick Dellaria’s first game.
▪ Hialeah 8, Miami Springs 7: A seemingly harmless two-point conversion late in the first quarter wound up being the difference in the game as Hialeah edged Miami Springs at Milander Stadium in the annual battle for the Mayor’s Cup.
After Springs had taken a 7-0 lead on an Anthony Walker 30-yard touchdown run midway through the first, the T-Breds with a long touchdown drive capped by an 11-yard scoring toss from Jyzion Wade to Alvonta Shelton. When Wade found Jason Lubin in the corner of the end zone for the two-pointer, it gave Hialeah a lead it would cling to for the remainder of the game.
Walker actually had an 80-interception return for a score in the second quarter but was called back when Springs was called for a personal foul.
“We’re trying to build something here, and this was a good way to get things started tonight,” said Hialeah coach Pierre Senatus, making his T-Bred debut after coming over from Miramar.