The Rockets don’t refuel. They reload.
The Miami Central football team has key players move on to the college ranks every season, but each time, it also replenishes the talent vacated with a new crop of rising prospects and transfers.
This season is no different — as was evidenced by Central’s Green and White Game held at the school Saturday.
Central is loaded on both sides of the ball as it attempts to win its fourth consecutive Class 6A state championship and fifth in six seasons this fall.
Some seniors could finish their high school careers 4 for 4 in state championships — like middle linebacker Donavan Thompson, who spearheads a Rockets defense that has college-ready players all over.
“To come out and win this one, it would mean more because it’s my senior year, last ride,” said Thompson, who currently lists his top three colleges as Arkansas, USF and Oregon State. “My main focus is to get everybody around me better.”
The cast around him isn’t too shabby. Senior FSU commitments in defensive end Keir Thomas and defensive back Jamel Cook and Florida-committed linebacker/defensive end Eric Mitchell, a transfer from Norland, surround him. As if that weren’t enough, the Rockets also have rising junior linebacker Waynmon Steed already committed to UM. Steed said Miami coaches have told him they remind him of Sean Spence.
All but Cook (rest) played in Saturday’s spring scrimmage.
So with all that talent, Central seems set on defense. But what about offense? How do the Rockets replace dynamic offensive playmakers such as DaVante Phillips, Anthony Jones and Cedric Miller?
Coach Roland Smith was able to reel in transfers from wide receiver Darnell Salomon (Champagnat) and running back Kenio Mike (Coral Gables).
“It’s all love over here,” said Salomon, who lists his top five as Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and FSU.
While at Champagnat, Salomon was mostly used on the outside, but he was seen taking several repetitions in the slot at the scrimmage. Wherever he was, he was getting open and using his 6-2, 205-pound frame to box out defenders and make catches.
“You want to move him around because you don’t want it to be easy to game-plan against him, because he’s one of the top receivers in the nation and teams will try to put their best cover corner on him,” Smith said.
There’s a competition at quarterback to see who will be throwing to Salomon in the fall between incumbent Jerrod Thomas and Gulliver transfer Anthony “Mo” Hassan. Smith said Thomas is in the lead at the end of spring.
Mike will be the feature back for the offense, and he is confident he can contribute.
“I have proven myself that I can get the job done. I can bring Central to another level this football season,” he said. “With the O-line I have blocking for me, it’s a blessing.”
The right side of the line Mike spoke of features big junior Navauhn Donaldson (6-5, 315) and Tahj Brighthaupt (6-8, 350).
With the talent on display Saturday, Miami Central has to be considered a front-runner to take home the state title once again.
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