Greg Magner served as football coach, athletic director and mentor for many student-athletes at Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame Prep in Miami from 1990 up until the very moment the school closed after 63 years because of financial issues last May.
Saturday night, his new team, Hialeah Gardens, made him a winner again and extended the longest losing-streak in county history in the process.
With a 26-8 victory over Westland Hialeah at Milander Park, the Gladiators handed the Wildcats their 35th consecutive loss, 11 shy of the state-record set by Tampa Leto in 2014 and the longest run of defeats any high school team in football talent-rich Miami-Dade has ever endured.
Magner’s advice for Westland?
“Your record is 0-0, the score is 0-0, the time on the clock is all zeroes, just bring your hard hat and keep coming,” said Magner, who despite leading Curley to the playoffs 13 times in his 26 seasons there has a career record of more losses (152) than wins (137).
“I’ve been there. The process will take care of the product.”
▪ Westland ended a run of eight consecutive shutouts dating back to Sept. 1, 2016 when it scored on the opening drive of the game. Running back Ernesto Gonzalez scored on a 35-yard touchdown run and quarterback Josue Castro ran in on the ensuing two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 9:52 to play in the opening quarter.
Westland, which had been outscored 1,412 to 37 and shutout 24 times in its previous three seasons combined (with three different head coached), has a new coach this season in former Florida Gators equipment manager Matthew Van Dusen. But there were only 23 players in uniform for Saturday’s game (four players were suspended) and cramping and fatigue became an issue in the second half.
The Wildcats turned it over four times and were penalized eight times for 85 yards.
“Tough one tonight, hats off to Hialeah Gardens on a hard fought game,” Van Dusen 28, tweeted after the game. “No quit in our players, ready to put the work in next week.”
“Thank you for trying your hardest out there tonight and not getting blown out 50-0!” the Westland Pep Club tweeted at Van Dusen. “Pep club appreciates you and sees the change in you guys.”
▪ Hialeah Gardens, which owns the third-longest losing streak in county history at 30 games and was 1-8 last season, rolled up 235 yards rushing and did most of it in the second half.
Senior Christian Delcorro ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and senior Christian Fernandez carved up Westland’s defense for 101 yards on eight carries including a 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“Usually what you tell your kids in a tight ballgame is the first drive of the second half is big and we came out and got a score at the beginning of the second half and that kind of just set the tone, that’s all,” Magner said.
“CJ Fernandez did a good job. But you always have to give credit to your line. Team effort. That’s what it’s about.”
▪ There were only six passes attempted all game between the teams, which run single wing offenses.
Westland’s Castro was intercepted in his only pass attempt and Gardens’ quarterback Darian Hernandez finished 2-of-5 for 65 yards including a 55-yard touchdown pass to junior Christian Herrera.