Larry Blustein

There really isn’t an offseason in football anymore

It’s official, there is no longer a word in the football vocabulary that has anything to do with the offseason. There is simply no off days, weeks or months like in the past. Too much is at stake.

So, from the time that the 2013 season ended in Orlando — with South Dade beating Apopka in the Class 8A title game, there have been combines, clinics, 7-on-7 all-star team tryouts and 7-on-7 tournaments.

That leaves the question — at least for old-timers like myself and others — where are the baseball players, track athletes and soccer standouts? Do they no longer play multiple sports?

Well, they actually do. Many football players have been able to do well in track and excel during a 7-on-7 event. As do baseball prospects such as North Miami’s Victor Sam, who does pretty well on the football field as a top receiver prospect for the Pioneers.

It has reached a point — as we saw during last weekend’s 16-team B2G Sports event at Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale — where some will actually split time like many did in the tournament last weekend, opting for track on Saturday and football on Sunday.

Many of the top 7-on-7 teams from across the state find it tough to survive a South Florida tournament that now is home to some 10 different teams, and the competition to attract players is intense.

The South Florida Express Elite — the first team to field an offseason program nearly 10 years ago — won the event and a trip to Los Angeles to compete in the national tournament.

Brett Goetz has helped to build and fund the program that has high-profile coaches and players.

He takes the team to every event and showcases the players to colleges during the summer months.

Although many teams have been added, it’s still Goetz and his loyal coaches who have maintained this program — and many quality teams have followed.

Even Goetz realized that once the popularity of the offseason events gained steam, more teams would be formed and the competition to attract players would be tough.

“From the beginning, our intention was to give players such as Ryan Shazier, Geno Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, Ivan McCartney and so many others a place to stay in football mode year-round,” Goetz said. “To this day, they all reflect on what the experience of playing with us was all about.”

Although 7-on-7 teams do go after a lot of the same players — even after high-profile tryouts are held — the real winners in all this are the dozens of young prospects who never got the chance to participate in the offseason.

More teams have added to the local competition, with Team Strong Arm coming up with a number of prospects who can really play, which added up to second-place finish and a trip with the Express to California.

Another impressive team is Fire North. Coached by Dennis Morroquin, it features a talented combination of Kato Nelson to teammate Darnell Salomon that paved the way for the 2A state crown this past season at Champagnat Catholic.

The Fire South, GVP All-Stars, Team Red Zone, Team Hard Knocks and Miami Showcase also have given additional players and chance they might not have had in the past.

“The more teams we get to play, the better competition it is for all our kids in South Florida,” said Morroquin, who has coordinated the Hialeah offense the past few seasons. “The thing about all the teams that we have down here is all have so much talent, you never know what will happen from game to game.”

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