The Miami Dolphins scrimmage may have been scrubbed on Saturday due to inclement weather, but that didn’t mean something else important wasn’t going on at Hard Rock Stadium.
Plenty was going on inside, on the Club Suite Level, as the Dolphins hosted their seventh-annual high school media day.
From the big shots like St. Thomas Aquinas and Miami Central to the smaller independent schools like Florida Christian and Pompano Beach, nearly 100 schools and over 1,000 kids made the trek to Hard Rock to participate in the day’s activities.
The Dolphins designed the event six years ago in an effort to develop high school athletes off the field through media training and having them go through the interview experience.
It also caters to the South Florida media, giving all outlets an opportunity to interview and interact with coaches and players three weeks before the season begins.
“The media is a big part of this including the Herald,” said former Dolphin Twan Rusell who now serves as the Ambassador of Youth Football for the organization. “Your investment helps make this the event it has become. For the longest time, all of the media outlets would kind of do their own thing so we finally thought rather than everyone piece mealing it, why not bring the entire thing together.
“Now it’s turned into an event where you can train kids and teach them how to communicate in a setting where you might be nervous and anxious about what you’re going to say. They’ll simply be better prepared and that’s what this event has turned into.”
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s event:
▪ District and Classification Realignment
When it comes to districts and even classifications, nothing is going to be the same.
At the forefront was the long-awaited breakup of the so-called “District of Death,” which pitted rivals Carol City, Central and Northwestern all in District 16-6A.
Arguably the three best teams in the entire state were left to cannibalize each other each season and only one would make it to Orlando.
Now Central will remain in 6A while Northwestern moves to 5A and Carol City in 4A and was a hot topic of conversation on Saturday.
“We’re still going to play each other in the regular season,” said Central coach Roland Smith. “But I guess there will be no more postseason games between us which is disappointing because those playoff games were really exciting community events but at the same time also allows each team the opportunity to bring back a state title.”
▪ Who will emerge from the new “Region of Death” in 4A?
While the District of Death is gone, a new “Region of Death” has formed in Class 4A. There are no districts in Region 4, but best of luck to the likes of University School, Booker T. Washington, Gulliver Prep, Carol City, Cardinal Gibbons and even Delray American Heritage in Palm Beach county as only one team will emerge unbelievably stacked group to make the 4A state semifinals.
“We feel like we schedule tough anyway so it will be whatever it is,” said University head coach Daniel Luque, whose team barely missed a berth in last year’s 4A final with a last-second semifinal loss to Cocoa. “Whoever does come out of this regional will clearly have earned their way.”
▪ Can Cardinal Gibbons and Chaminade repeat again?
Gibbons won its first-ever state title last December in Class 5A while Chaminade repeated as the Class 3A state champ. The Chiefs will play the role as defending champ for the first time but moved down to 4A will have to find a way to emerge from the aforementioned “Region of Death.”
Chaminade remained in 3A and has a much easier road to the final.
“We scheduled tough again and that’s the only way you can be ready for the postseason,” said Chaminade head coach Dameon Jones.
▪ Will Northwestern win three in a row?
After what could only be described as a massively tumultuous 2018 season that saw them start 3-5 only to turn around and stunningly win their last seven games for a second straight state title, the Northwestern Bulls will look to three-peat in 2019.
“The kids will be ready,” said head coach Max Edwards who was clearly on the hot seat towards the end of last season and likely saved his job with the postseason run. “Hopefully they learned from last season and will come out this year with more of a sense of urgency.”
▪ Will Western live up to all the hype?
Without a doubt, the most enthusiastic of all the teams to take the press table on Saturday were the Western Wildcats and head coach Adam Radkevich.
“Coach Rack” let out a loud holler when the sat down and the rest of his team sitting in the audience started hollering as well.
For good reason. Western had stepped up to the big-time in the last few years and the Wildcats are loaded with FBS talent this season. Deerfield Beach has annually been the favorite to come out of 8A each year in Broward County, but Western will pose a serious threat to the Bucks this season.