Douglas senior catcher Dominic Dicaprio got two bits of good news this past summer when he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
First, as expected, he passed his driving test and got his license.
Second, and most unexpected, he bumped into Douglas coach Todd Fitz-Gerald, who notified him that the Eagles had hired Rich Hofman as an assistant.
Hofman, 70, has won more than 1,000 games as a coach, including 10 state titles and two national championships.
Never miss a local story.
“Not bad,” Fitz-Gerald joked with a deadpan delivery. “Rich has got a couple of wins under his belt I guess.”
Dicaprio, a Rice University recruit, said it was “an honor” to be coached by Hofman.
“With his knowledge, he can help us accomplish our goals,” Dicaprio said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Hofman, who became nationally known when he coached Alex Rodriguez and others at Westminster Christian, finishing the 1992 and 1996 seasons ranked No. 1 in the country, made it clear that he is at Douglas to assist Fitz-Gerald in any way.
Fitz-Gerald is an impressive coach in his own right. He has a 300-91 career record with one state title and one national title, both of which came at American Heritage.
Together, Hofman and Fitz-Gerald have a combined record of 1,320-378 with 11 state titles and three No. 1 rankings nationally.
Hofman’s official title this season is bench coach. During practices, he mostly focuses on defense with the infielders and catchers.
“But I’m using Rich in every facet,” said Fitz-Gerald, whose Eagles opened their 2015 season Monday. “We talk constantly during games and bounce ideas off each other.”
Fitz-Gerald and Hofman first encountered each other in 1988. Fitz-Gerald was the starting pitcher for American Heritage that day in a regional final against Westminster Christian, coached by Hofman.
Westminster won 16-0.
Fitz-Gerald would exact his revenge as a head coach, where he said he is one of the few coaches with a winning record against Hofman, whose teams over the past decade — Piper, University School, SLAM — have not been stellar.
Douglas’ talented roster with a half-dozen Division I-type recruits is one of the many reasons Hofman is so thrilled to have this new opportunity.
Hofman recently bought a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina and has promised his wife to spend more time there and away from baseball. Being an assistant instead of a head coach will free him up more.
“I’m happy to be coaching baseball and not have to deal with parents and administration,” Hofman said. “Todd gives me a lot of responsibility on the field, and I love teaching the game. Plus, if you don’t have that pencil to write the starting lineup, kids like you more. It’s nice to be liked.”
Hofman and Fitz-Gerald believe Douglas is a legitimate threat to make a postseason run in Class 8A. The coaching staff, even beyond Hofman, is excellent, Fitz-Gerald said, and the team chemistry is good.
“Contrary to what people say, I’m not one of those ego guys,” said Fitz-Gerald, who has worked with Hofman in summer ball the past two years. “Rich and I have the same goal — get to the Blue [the state championships in May at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers].”
Broward season outlook
Monday-Saturday: Regular-season opening-week tournaments.
March 23-28: Spring break tournaments.
April 20-24: Districts.
April 29-30: Regional quarterfinals.
May 5: Regional semifinals.
May 8: Regional finals Classes 6A-5A, 2A-1A.
May 12: Regional finals Classes 8A-7A, 4A-3A.
May 13-16, 18-21: State championships at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 8A: Homestead South Dade; 7A: Hialeah American; 6A: Hialeah Gardens Mater Academy; 5A: Tampa Jesuit; 4A: Ocala Trinity Catholic; 3A: Tallahassee North Florida Christian; 2A: Brito Miami Private; 1A: Williston.
PRESEASON TOP 10
2. Archbishop McCarthy
3. St. Thomas Aquinas
5. American Heritage
6. West Broward
7. Pine Crest
8. Cypress Bay
9. Pines Charter
10. Cardinal Gibbons
On the rise: North Broward Prep, Cooper City, Monarch, Taravella.
TOP 15 RETURNING PLAYERS
P-3B Christian Demby, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.
P Gentry Fortuno, Flanagan, Sr.
P Anthony Masiello, North Broward Prep, Jr.
P Evan McKendry, University School, Jr.
P Michael Schappell, West Broward, Sr.
P Jordan Spicer, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.
1B Alex Toral, Archbishop McCarthy, So.
1B Danny Rodriguez-Velez, Pines Charter, Sr.
SS Chayce Hay-Eldon, West Broward, Sr.
3B David Villar, American Heritage, Sr.
C Dominic DiCaprio, Douglas, Sr.;
C Alex Dickinson, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.
C Miguel Presno, Flanagan, Sr.
OF Pemron Burrows, Douglas, Sr.
OF Griffin Conine, Pine Crest, Sr.
OTHERS TO WATCH
P Brett Alayon, Pines Charter, Sr.; P Richie Cruz, American Heritage, Sr.; P Andrew Gottfried, Calvary Christian, Sr.; P Trace Norkus, Westminster Academy, Sr.; P Nate Pawelczyk, Cardinal Gibbons, Sr.; P Raul Quesada, Everglades, Sr.; P-1B Garret Rukes, Pine Crest, Jr.; 1B Nick Marchese, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.; 2B Mike Mele, South Plantation, Sr.; SS James Buckley, Monarch, Sr.; SS Zack Kone, Pine Crest, Sr.; SS Colton Welker, Douglas, Jr.; 3B Juan DelaEspriella, Cypress Bay, Sr.; C Jake Anchia, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; C Justin Lamazares, American Heritage, Sr.; C-3B Edison Rodriguez, Sagemont, Sr.; OF Dillon Bautista, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; OF Justin Lara, Cardinal Gibbons, Sr.; OF Jared Schwait, North Broward Prep, Sr.; OF Juan Teixeira, Somerset, Jr.
NOTE: For complete team-by-team previews, please click the online version of this story on our High School Sports page at www.MiamiHerald.com/sports.
Andre C. Fernandez
SEASON OUTLOOK: TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
1. FLANAGAN (Coach Ray Evans). Last year: 24-2 (Regional finalist). Top players: P Gentry Fortuno, Sr.; C Miguel Presno, Sr.; OF Eric Rivera, Jr.; INF Mark Vientos, So.; LHP-1B Dylan O’Connell, Jr.; INF Ricky Presno, So.
2. DOUGLAS (Coach Todd Fitz-Gerald, 4th year at MSD, 14th overall, 300-91). Last year: 19-9 (Regional finalist). Top players: C Dominic Dicaprio, Sr.; 3B-RHP Devin Conn, Sr.; LHP Jesus Luzardo, Jr.; SS Colton Welker, Jr.; 1B Blake Bottomley, Sr.; LF Yorvis Torrealba, Sr.; OF Pemron Burrows, Sr.
3. WEST BROWARD (Coach Sergio Ambros, 5th year at WB, 8th overall, 76-47). Last year: 17-5. Top players: P Michael Schappell, Sr.; P Christian Dearman, Sr.; P Nicholas MacDonald, Jr.; SS Chayce Hay-Eldon, Sr.; 3B Richie Garcia, Sr.; 1B-OF Dalton Brockman, Sr.
4. CYPRESS BAY (Coach Paul Liotti, 1st year at CB, 9th overall, 138-93). Last year: 17-10 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: 3B Juan Dela Espriella, Sr.; C-P Devin Ramirez, Jr.; P Luis Sucre, Sr.; 2B Jose Natera, Jr.; CF Joey Rodriguez, Sr.; 1B-C Alex Valladarez, Sr.
5. COOPER CITY (Coach Chris Delgado, 1st year). Last year: 17-7 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS Steve DiPuglia, Sr.; P Joey Cutrone, Sr.; P Jeremy Brauer, So.; OF Johnny Miller, So.; OF-P Cameron Stadler, So.; INF Ethan Shea, Jr.
6. TARAVELLA (Coach Alan Clark, 3rd year). Last year: 16-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P Justin Walker, Sr.
7. EVERGLADES (Coach Matthew Cordova, 1st year). Last year: 8-16. Top players: P Raul Quesada, Sr.; P Justin Carrillo, Jr.; C-1B Yabel Arzeno, Sr.; OF Juan David Gamero, Sr.; P Nico Tanega-Doster, Sr.; OF-P Dominic Desisto, Sr.
8. CORAL GLADES (Coach Mike Goulette, 1st year). Last year: 10-11. Top players: RHP T.J. Williams, Sr.; OF-RHP T.J. Densmore, Jr.; 3B-SS Alex Lara, Jr.
9. SOUTH PLANTATION (Coach Ryan Manuell, 2nd year, 6-11-1). Last year: 6-11-1. Top players: P-2B Mike Mele, Sr.; 1B Steven Seager, Sr.; C Aaron Sigal, Sr.; P-INF Andy Huegele, Sr.; P Rhys Friedman, Jr.
10. PIPER (Coach Pat Pisani, 1st year). Last year: 7-15. Top players: SS-P Eric Rath, Jr.; CF Chris Nunez, Jr.; 1B Ryan Taylor, Jr.; C Greg Snyder, Jr.; LF Michael Cuminale, Jr.
11. MIRAMAR (Coach Mario Rodriguez, 8th year, 57-98). Last year: 5-15. Top players: SS Alex Rodriguez, Sr.; P Michael Rodriguez, Sr.; CF Christopher Beech, Sr.; C Kevin Richards, Sr.; C Marty Silverberg, Sr.; 2B Jose Artiles, Sr.
12. DEERFIELD BEACH (Coach Mike Dobre). Last year: 5-17. Top players: C George Edmunds, Sr.; C Trent Youstin, Jr.; P Kyle Miller, Sr.; P Matt Simons, Sr.; P Cezanne Omar, Sr.; SS Dalton Williams, Jr.; 3B Connor Kelly, Jr.; 1B Rafael Santos, So.
1. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Coach Troy Cameron, 3rd year, 37-14). Last year: 18-7 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: C Alex Dickinson, Sr.; P Jordan Spicer, Sr.; 1B-P Nick Marchese, Sr.; SS Gary Mattis, Jr.; CF Jawuan Harris, Sr.; P Johnny Leone, So.
2. MONARCH (Coach Joe Franco, 10th year, 99-86). Last year: 15-8 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS James Buckley, Sr.; 2B Manny Rojas, Sr.; C Jon Benestad, Sr.; INF-RHP Joey Hennessey, Jr.; CF Joey Rugare, Jr.; INF-RHP Joey Gerber, Sr.; OF Eddie Mercado, Sr.; 1B-RHP C.J. Delbosque, Jr.; LF-RHP Nick Taylor, Sr.
3. NOVA (Coach Pat McQuaid, 42nd year, 836-297). Last year: 20-5. Top players: 3B-P Javier Lopez, Sr.; LF Jose Oliva, Sr.; P-1B Vince Coletti, Sr.; 2B Edwin Pichardo, Sr.; C Austin Davis, Sr.; CF-P James Spatafora, Jr.; RF-P Shane Rowe, Sr.
4. FORT LAUDERDALE (Coach Terry Portice, 19th year, 217-258-4). Last year: 12-10-1 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: C Reese Blankenship, Sr.; OF-P Hassan Westbrook, Sr.; P Daniel Silva, Jr.; SS Trevor Jones, Jr.; OF Ty Kublickis, Jr.; C-2B Sean O’Connell, So.
5. SOUTH BROWARD (Coach Charlie Cardinale). Last year: 10-14 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS Bryan Luzon, Jr.; P Chris Cortello, Sr.
PINES CHARTER (Coach Carlos Iglesias, 9th year, 120-75). Last year: 19-5 (Regional finalist). Top players: 1B Danny Rodriguez-Velez, Sr.; P Brett Alayon, Sr.; C Trent Herzog, Sr.; 2B Alex Monge-Rodriguez, Sr.; SS Anthony Gomez, Sr.; 3B Peter Dourvetakis, Sr.
1. ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Rich Bielski, 7th year at AM, 17th overall, 380-111-5). Last year: 27-3 (Regional finalist). Top players: C Jake Anchia, Sr.; OF Dillan Bautista, Sr.; P-3B Christian Demby, Sr.; 1B Alex Toral, So.; P Brian Van Belle, Sr.; P Austin Haworth, Sr.; SS Kobe Lopez, Jr.; INF Freddie Matos, Sr.
2. AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Bruce Aven, 4th year, 66-15). Last year: 14-8. Top players: 3B David Villar, Sr.; C Justin Lamazares, Sr.; RHP Richie Cruz, Sr.
3. CARDINAL GIBBONS (Coach Jason Hamilton, 12th year at CG, 15th overall, 285-123-1). Last year: 16-11 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: CF Justin Lara, Sr.; RHP Nate Pawelczyk, Sr.; RHP-3B Karl Hirsch, Sr.; C Austin Marrow, Sr.; OF Colin Durkin, Jr.; RHP-INF Sean Otto, Sr.
1. PINE CREST (Coach Wayne Stofsky, 1st year at PC, 5th overall, 48-33). Last year: 12-15. Top players: OF Griffin Conine, Sr.; SS Zack Kone, Sr.; LHP-1B Garret Rukes, Jr.; CF-2B-RHP Jordan Schulefand, So.; C-1B Michael Rothenberg, So.; RHP-OF Adam Saks, Sr.
2. NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Brian Campbell, 8th year, 103-91). Last year: 20-10 (State semifinalist). Top players: P-1B Anthony Masiello, Jr.; P-1B Brian Fagan, Sr.; OF Jared Schwait, Sr.; SS Kevin Thomas, Sr.; P Max Tannenbaum, Sr.; C Franco Camacho, Sr.
3. UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (Coach Dan Rovetto, 2nd year at US, 4th overall, 37-19). Last year: 15-11. Top players: RHP Evan McKendry, Jr.; RHP Jesse Crosno, Sr.; 3B Evan Klugerman, Sr.; OF Cam Chaftez, Sr.; RHP-3B Buddy Hayward, So.; Sammy Guillorme, So.
4. SOMERSET ACADEMY (Coach Onel Garcia, 6th year). Last year: 13-12. Top players: OF Juan Teixeira, Jr.; 1B Mike Van Degna, Sr.; OF Kenny Moreno-Costa, Jr.; 2B Derek Cartaya, Jr.; C Luis Chavez, Jr.; 3B Jack Khawly, Jr.
5. CHAMINADE (Coach Mike Moss, 10th year at CM, 28th overall, 383-274-4). Last year: 12-17 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P-DH Brendan Tuttle, So.; C-OF Shene Stockelman, Sr.; 1B-3B Nick Izquierdo, Sr.; SS Mike Dreg, Jr.; P Damien Fornash, Sr.; P-OF Alex Smith, Sr.; OF Chris Vickers, Jr.
6. CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Gregg Mucerino, 7th year at CCA, 14th overall, 148-81). Last year: 11-15. Top players: RHP-OF Andrew Gottfried, Sr.; SS Josh Lane, Sr.; RHP-INF Tommy Taborda, Sr.; INF-OF-RHP Winn Allen, Sr.; C Jonah Carigan, Sr.; C-INF-OF Colin Majewski, Sr.
1. WESTMINSTER ACADEMY (Coach Nicholas James, 5th year at WA, 7th overall, 97-61). Last year: 21-7 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: RHP Trace Norkus, Sr.; RHP Frankie Corridori, Sr.; INF Jake Dudas, Sr.; OF Nick Gauntner, Sr.; OF Gabe Delgado, Sr.
2. SAGEMONT (Coach Wesley Morejon, 3rd year, 19-22). Last year: 14-8 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: C-3B Edison Rodriguez, Sr.; 3B-C-2B Stefan Revelo, Jr.; SS Luis Tuero, Fr.; CF Chris Iacono, Sr.; OF Angelo Pagliuca, Jr.; P-OF-1B Niko Leontarakis, Jr.
3. CORAL SPRINGS CHRISTIAN (Coach Steve Carp, 1st year at CSC, 7th overall, 120-54). Last year: 21-7 (State semifinalist). Top players: 3B-P Jordan Sabates, Jr.; SS-P Kyle Catreese, So.; 1B-P Kevin Gutierrez, Jr.; CF-P Zack Clarke, Jr.; RF Chris Chivaroli, Sr.; 2B Ethan Hochhauser, Fr.