North Miami Beach stunned Braddock with a 59-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game and never slowed down from there.
When it was over, the Chargers had themselves a huge 57-0 victory in the season opener for both teams on Thursday night at North Miami Stadium.
On the first play of the game and the season, NMB quarterback Wendell Morrison threw a lateral pass to Fritz Merus who then squared up and hit a wide open Alvin Floyd on the first play of the game to put the Chargers up 7-0, and that was only the tip of the iceberg.
“We talked all summer about opening with something big and kind of let loose and we couldn’t have executed it any better,” said NMB head coach Jeff Bertani. “It obviously set the tone for the rest of the evening.”
Morrison went on to have a huge first half, firing touchdown passes of 71 yards to Floyd and 32 yards to Marcelin Guerrier and running for 80 yards on five carries on the ground including a 15 yarder for score as the Chargers blew out to a 50-0 lead at the half prompting a running clock in the second half.
“It was a good night for sure,” said Morrison, just a junior who is getting looks from Toledo and Akron. “We wanted to come out and hit them fast. They beat us last year so we wanted to square things up. You could tell they kind of let down after that first play. Looked like they didn’t want to play anymore.”
The Chargers also got big plays from Ernest Labissiere and Volaskis Walkin.
Labissiere returned a punt 38 yards for a score to put NMB up 36-0 midway through the second quarter and, with Braddock threatening for the only time all night, Walkin picked off a Adolfo Garcia pass and returned it 90 yards on the final play of the first half.
“Coach [Bertani] told us we were going to come out and run that play on the first play and we were really pumped,” said Floyd, a senior who has Southerm Miss, Syracuse and Toledo as schools at the top of his list. “I think it sets the tone for our season. Everybody better watch out for us this year.”
21 YEARS FOR BERTANI
When he took the field on Thursday night, it marked the start of NMB coach Jeff Bertani’s 21st season at the helm of the Chargers program making him the longest tenured coach in Miami-Dade County among public schools and second-longest overall with Belen’s Rich Stuart (32 years) at the top.
“I’m either stupid, loyal or crazy or all of the above,” Bertani said with a laugh. “It’s fun. I’m still having a great time with these kids. Until I get tired or somebody runs we out, I’m going to have a great time.”
It was a shocking moment when Jorge Aguirre trotted out on the field for North Miami Beach following the Chargers’ first touchdown on Thursday night.
That’s because Aguirre is a placekicker. What’s the significance? It marked the first time in more than a decade that NMB attempted an extra point.
More than 10 years ago, Bertani, frustrated by a lack of a kicking game, bagged kicking PATs and just went for two all the time. It turned out to be a busy night for Aguirre as the chargers tallied eight touchdowns and he made seven of his eight PATs.
“My principal made me get a kicker,” Bertani said with a wink and a chuckle. “We finally found a kid that was willing to do it so we’re going to give it a shot. It worked out pretty well [Thursday night] and Jorge did a nice job.”
When told of the 10-year PAT drought, Aguirre said: “I had no idea about that. Knowing that now, I’m glad I was really able to come through [Thursday] with the exception of that one miss, so I’m just looking forward to contributing the rest of the season.”