The only good thing someone can offer a coach who inherits a team that went winless the previous season is this: There’s only one place to go, and that is up.
Such has been the case for Nick Dellaria, who is in his first season as the head coach at Northeast High in Oakland Park.
A self-admitted “Broward County lifer,” Dellaria has his work cut out for him, as the Hurricanes not only went 0-10 last year but have gone 3-39 in four seasons since the program featured talent like former University of Miami receiver Stacey Coley, a seventh-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings last April.
“Nowhere to go but up? Yeah, that pretty much would sum it up,” said Dellaria, who played his high school ball at Piper and spent the past 20 years coaching as an assistant under Allen Jackson at Monarch, Otis Gray and Keith Franklin at Dillard, and Doug Gatewood at South Plantation before succeeding him as the Paladins coach for one season in 2015.
Never miss a local story.
“Our staff and the kids have kind of taken up that mentality,” Dellaria added. “I told them, ‘You have not had a quality high school football experience, and that’s the first thing you’re going to gain here.’ Some of these kids haven’t had two wins in their entire high school career, and we’re going to try and change that.”
Even though South Plantation struggled to a 3-7 record in Dellaria’s lone season at the helm, he enjoyed his moment of glory when the Paladins pulled off one of the biggest upsets of that season. South Plantation stunned then-nationally ranked and eventual Class 8A state champion Flanagan 13-12.
Dellaria was hired at Northeast in the summer of 2016 and served as offensive coordinator last season under then-coach L.D. Anderson.
“The team has not had much stability at the head coaching position over the last four years, and some of the leadership has not been what they needed or what they should’ve had as far as I’m concerned with a high school football program,” Dellaria said. “Now it’s time to try and put some wins together. Try and put a team together. Build with young guys through JV, make them stay together, work together and try to build a culture.”
The Canes took their first step toward turning things around immediately this season with a 26-21 opening-week victory over Hollywood Hills.
Northeast (1-1), just like almost every other team in Broward, has been waiting nearly three weeks to get back on the field after Hurricane Irma put the season on hold. The Hurricanes will hit the gridiron again Friday when they face Monarch at Coconut Creek High at 7 p.m.
Another tool that should help in attracting talent to the program is a brand new 3,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art weight room which is close to being completed.
“It’s going to be really nice — new modern equipment with all the bells and whistles — and should really help bring some new energy to this program,” Dellaria said. “Now it’s all about trying to get the kids to buy in to what you’re selling.”
While the Hurricanes roster is not as stocked with talent as many of its rivals, Dellaria does have some potential standouts led by Malik Occiur, a 6-1, 205-pound safety who is rated a two-star recruit and the 159th-best safety in the country by 247Sports.com. Occiur is a Western Kentucky commitment who had been committed to FAU until recently.
He will be joined by linebackers Shariff Rodriguez and Jordan Sylla (a three-year starter), defensive back Joseph Louizaire, and Gary White, a strong safety and running back on offense who transferred from Bradenton Manatee.
“It’s definitely been different since coach Nick has come in,” White said. “He’s an organized coach and has gotten our guys to be more physical, faster and more organized. What happened in the past is history now. We don’t remember it. We’re looking forward, not backward, that’s what he likes to preach.”
American Heritage’s Jude Kim tied the Broward County record for lowest score in an 18-hole meet by shooting a 64 on Wednesday at Lago Mar Country Club. Kim tied the mark set by former Heritage golfer Tommy Hurst in 2011 at the Fort Lauderdale Country Club’s South course.
▪ American Heritage Plantation 280, Columbus 288: Kim 8-under 64; Robert Nieves (C) 67; Alberto Martinez (AH) 69; Adamo DiTullio (AH) 72; Luis Suarez (C) 72; Sharif Amastha (C) 74; Leo Herrera (AH) 75; Jose Perez (C) 75.
▪ Gulliver 156, Westminster 172, Palmer 189: Roman Lopez 34, Alexander Dalmau 38, Max McKenna 41, John Marshall 43, Jason Kleinman 45
▪ Carrollton 173, Arch Bishop McCarthy 158 (at Biltmore Hotel GC par 35): Tanya Eathakotti (CAR) 33, Casey Sommer (AM) 34.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas d. Cardinal Gibbons 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18: Maddy Stiffler 12 service points, 5 aces, 4 digs; Jessica DelRey 8 service points, 3 aces, 9 digs; CG 2-2.
▪ Westwood Christian d. Princeton Christian Game 1 (25-21, 25-15, 25-22): Lauren Amat 15 assists, 10 aces,6 kills. Christina Molina 9 kills. Bailey Thomson 8 kills, 4 aces.
▪ Westwood Christian d. Princeton Christian Game 2 (25-21, 25-15, 25-18): Lauren Amat 24 assists , 11 aces, 5 kills. Victoria Mcveigh 6 aces, 7 kills. Cristina Molina 8 kills, 5 aces.
▪ Calvary Christian Volleyball d. Westminster Academy (25-18, 25-10, 25-19): Manaia Rewi 11 Kills, 9 assists, 6 aces, 4 digs. Kaitlyn Green 6 kills, 4 digs, 1 block, ace. Eliana Burgos 19 assists, 4 digs, 3 aces, 2 kills. CC 2-2.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
▪ Doral 116, Columbus 54: David Montana (DOR) won 50 free, 100 free; DOR 2-0.
▪ American Heritage 102, NSU University School 62; American Heritage 124, Chaminade-Madonna 37; NSU University School 82, Chaminade-Madonna 60: Daniel Jacobs (US) won 200 free, 500 free; Patrick Groters (US) 100 back, 200 IM.
▪ Doral 114, Carrollton 56: Stephanie Sequera won 50 free, 200 IM; DOR 2-0.
▪ American Heritage 93, NSU University School 81; American Heritage 126, Chaminade-Madonna 30; NSU University School 133, Chaminade-Madonna 33: Catharine Cooper (AH) won 100 free, 200 free; Amanda Kopas (US) won 200 IM, 100 fly.