Miami-Dade High Schools

These two teams play Friday for Florida Independent Football Conference championship

Brandon Yanes (11) and Kyon White Royal (44) watch as they prepare to run drills during football practice at Palmer Trinity School on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018.
Brandon Yanes (11) and Kyon White Royal (44) watch as they prepare to run drills during football practice at Palmer Trinity School on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. adiaz@miamiherald.com

After a tough loss against Westminster Christian (9-0) three weeks ago, Palmer Trinity (8-2) has an opportunity to get some revenge this Friday.

The teams will play for the Florida Independent Football Conference championship at Miramar at 7 p.m., the final test before beginning action in the Class 3A state football playoffs next week — a spot Palmer Trinity has not been in since coach Mark Reese took over the program three years ago.

THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

Senior quarterback Nicholas Casares took the second loss of the season especially hard.

“It was personal,” he said. “It was more on me than anything.”

Ever since, study time has doubled. More than two hundred offensive plays are stuck to a cellphone belt around his wrist. Honing his connection to the running backs has become a priority.

Senior Brandon Yanes is playing his first year with the Falcons and his aggressiveness and speed have turned him into a star. Heading into Friday’s game, the running back has 1,257 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

“All of the sudden, from the first game of the season, I was picking up on things, everything felt right, and I was flowing really good,” said Yanes, light and agile at 5-10.

Kyon White-Royal compliment their efforts from the fullback position. Summer-long conditioning and dedication have paid off for the 6-foot senior who had only played defense before this season.

“As a fullback I see the play develop, and I like that the game is in my hands,” he said.

Like White-Royal, most key players play defense and offense. With a roster of only 27 players, Reese demands full attendance.

HIGHER GOALS

Reese was a University of Miami football graduate assistant until 2015 when he joined Palmer Trinity as a defensive coordinator.

At 44, the father of young kids chose to spend more time with them and hone the Falcons football program from Monday to Friday. He then became the head coach in 2016 and the state playoffs are within reach. Palmer Trinity entered the week ranked fifth in the Region 4-3A power rankings. Westminster Christian is fourth. The top six teams from the region after this week advance to the playoffs.

“Anything can happen if we get to state playoffs,” Reese said.

He credits his team’s success to his seniors: “Three years ago, we didn’t know where this program was going, and some kids left to other schools, but our seniors invested in this.”

“What changed with him is the standards that he upheld for us,” White-Royal said.

This year’s Falcons have already set the school’s record for most wins in the season and are hungry for more.

First it’s the FIFC championship. Then, the playoffs await.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Reese said, “except us.”

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