As the prognosticators do their thing this time of year – picking winners of districts – there are always going to be those schools who get overlooked.
When you follow many of these "borderline" programs around during the course of an offseason, you tend to see more than others. It may be a 7-on-7 win, a performance that came against top-flight competition or a dozen other reasons. But the main thing in all this is every year, there are going to be teams that are slept on.
As we continue to count down another season, there are many aspects of the game that we like to explore. Sure, you will get the top players and teams, but there are also other facets of the game that many also like to hear about.
During the course of the past nine months, several football teams have made that commitment to be that surprise team.
Today, we look at the six teams that could really make a serious playoff run:
DOUGLAS EAGLES: Talk to head coach Willis May and he will tell you straight on: "if we don't make the playoffs, the season is a waste." As district teams such as Deerfield Beach and Piper will attempt to be the obstacle, May's teams were just edged out the past two years, so there is solid motivation. In addition, there are very few teams in Florida that have a better and more talented offensive line. This is a team could definitely make a run.
EDISON RED RAIDERS: Nobody is going to turn their backs on head coach Napoleon Joseph's talented and well-coached football program. While being in a district with four-time Class 4A state champion Booker T. Washington would chase most programs off, this is a team that has those talents – such as Jamauri "Bam" Lagurre and Nadab Joseph – to line up with just about anyone. Add in the fact that you have a coaching staff that knows these athletes very well, and the recipe for success is in place.
FORT LAUDERDALE FLYING L'S: When you have St. Thomas Aquinas in a district with Blanche Ely, it really becomes a one-game season when the Tigers and Flying Ls hook up. But head coach Richard Dunbar has taken things one step further when he made his schedule, and by playing schools such as Punta Gorda Charlotte, South Broward, Lakeland, Vero Beach and Archbishop McCarthy will get this program ready for the games that truly count.
GOLEMAN GATORS: Winning football and this program never seemed to go together, but that is really starting to change as alum Ariel Cribeiro has a very talented and skilled program that many are overlooking. Dade Christian transfer Jose Valdivia is an example of where this team is headed in a district where many are favoring Mater Academy and Doral along with Reagan. Watch out for this quality and improving team.
NORTH MIAMI BEACH CHARGERS: Coach Jeff Bertani is not the winningest head coach in school history for nothing. His ability to take a handful of talented athletes and put them on both sides of the ball, and on special teams, has been a calling card that adds up to wins and producing big-time prospects. This is a program that should win the district, and with so many impressive prospects, could pull a first round playoff surprise.
WESTERN WILDCATS: As some have already watched this football team perform during the offseason, others are of the belief that no matter how good head coach Adam Ratkevich and his team are, making the playoffs in a district where the mine field starts with Flanagan and continues with Miramar, newcomers Plantation and South Plantation. But if you understand offense and defense, and see what this program has on the roster, picking off one of those "favorites" could be a reality.
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