Richard McIntosh’s mere physical presence inspired awe even among his peers at the recent Miami Dolphins High School Football Media Day.
One rival coach marveled, “He’s huge. He looks like he’s a beast of a player.’’
Cardinal Gibbons is hoping McIntosh, a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end and University of Miami commit, plays like a freak of nature this coming season as the Chiefs look to make another playoff run in small but competitive District 16-5A.
Gibbons is coming off an 8-3 season and a runner-up finish in the district behind Class 5A state champion Plantation American Heritage.
The district shrunk to three teams this season after Key West chose to go independent.
Heritage is still there and ranked one of the top teams in the nation.
Miami Jackson, whom Gibbons edged 31-30 in a thriller last season, is trying to return to its winning ways under a new coach.
Gibbons is doing some rebuilding of its own, at least on offense.
The Chiefs lost 31 seniors, including quarterback Peyton Bender and receivers Trevon Lee and George Rushing.
But on the defensive side, where Gibbons returns seven starters, the Chiefs are still very formidable.
McIntosh has more than 30 scholarship offers and figures to step to the forefront of a unit that also returns a talented secondary. Senior defensive backs Jonathan Graham and C.J. Maybin posted a combined eight interceptions last season and should thrive with McIntosh putting constant pressure on rival quarterbacks.
Maybin (6-4, 190) is committed to East Carolina, and Graham (5-10, 170) has an offer from FIU.
McIntosh’s brother, Deon, a junior running back, will be counted on more on offense. Deon McIntosh ran for 1,051 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Team to beat: American Heritage. The defending state champs appear to be stronger than last year’s squad that finished the season on a 14-game winning streak. The Patriots ramped up their schedule to include St. Thomas Aquinas and Apopka, and will start the year ranked in the top 10 nationally.
New face: Coach Earl Little, Jackson. Little, the former NFL and University of Miami standout, arrived at Jackson in the spring and has been working to revitalize a program that last season had a four-year streak of reaching the playoffs snapped.
Player to watch: Torrance Gibson, American Heritage quarterback. So many to choose from on Heritage’s team, but Gibson showed how dynamic and explosive a dual-threat quarterback he can be during his state championship win as a junior last season.
Biggest game: Cardinal Gibbons at American Heritage, Oct. 31. The Patriots walloped Gibbons 71-24 last season. This is likely the district clincher for the winner.
Predicted order of finish: 1. American Heritage; 2. Cardinal Gibbons; 3. Jackson.