If there is an answer to why South Florida high school football is a cut above the rest in the country, it may come as soon as this Friday and Saturday.
As the annual Austin 34 South Florida Officiating Camp gets going at Tamiami Park, the high school football world will focus on this second week of spring event that would be just a scrimmage anywhere else in the nation, but not here.
Not with all the talent that will be on display.
With high school and college fan websites and local media of all kinds flocking to the two-day event, there will be more written, spoken and talked about what goes on during these full contact scrimmages is designed to train referees for high school, college and NFL positions.
Remember, it's only a scrimmage.
With teams coming from as far away as West Palm Beach, where Oxbridge will head south, to several local football programs – everyone wants to get a sneak peak of what everyone will look like when the fall arrives.
As 7-on-7 events have more than filled their purpose, fans and coaches want to see the real football. The game where everything is on the line. That's why events like this weekend are more than embraced, especially at a time when the NCAA continues to make it harder for these athletes to receive college exposure – and earn one of those coveted scholarships.
From a fan standpoint, this is a weekend where you get the opportunity to see for yourself what is coming back – and of course – what programs need to work on before the start of the season. While many athletes are still involved in track, we will not see those individuals this weekend. But there will be a lot of talent – and yes – those great spring showdowns.
The Friday matchups will see new head coach Matt Dubuc of Cardinal Gibbons make his debut against the always competitive and athletic Coral Gables. Hialeah may be the early favorite to win a competitive district, and will square off with a much improved Palmetto team.
If fans of south Florida want to see a real good matchup of talent, the Christopher Columbus and Booker T. Washington scrimmage promises to be exciting as Tim "Ice" Harris returns to the sideline for the four-time defending Class 4A state champion Tornadoes. The Explorers always have enough young talent that gets a good look – like last year's scrimmage with powerful Hallandale. Columbus will also play Dillard and Plantation as well.
Friday will also see the return of head coach Eddie "Rabbit" Brown to Miami-Dade County, as his Boyd Anderson squad will play South Dade and Dr. Krop.
Belen Jesuit and veteran head coach Rich Stuart will also be involved in a few very good scrimmages. The Wolverines, who have the honor of being invited to play in Ireland in September, will play Ronald Reagan, McArthur and Oxbridge.
Javi Valdes and his new look Killian Cougars will also show what this program has with games against Miami High and Dillard. This is a team that will really start to make a huge impact this season.
Saturday also promises to be very entertaining – as Oxbridge, state power Carol City, the always tough Miramar Patriots, Stranahan, International School of Broward and the much-anticipated debut of Jackson head coach Lakatriona Brunson.
AUSTIN 34 CAMP
The Austin Officiating Group, headed by former NFL official Gerald Austin, hosts officiating camps that teach persons interested in being football referees, learning techniques and mechanics of seven-man crews that are in collegiate and professional football games.
Players and fans may not realize but officiating a game takes on the same dynamics which players deal with during game situations on their respective teams (chemistry, communication, execution, adjustment). Officials must communicate with each other during the heightened pace of a game to ensure that all areas are supervised from the coin toss to the extra point tries. There are from four-man to seven-man crews--which was the target of the officiating camp.
This year, NFL instructors scheduled to attend include Jerry Markbreit (NFL Referee Trainer), David Wyant (NFL Recruiting Coordinator), Neely Dunn (NFL Supervisor of Officials), Roy Ellison (NFL Umpire), Ruben Fowler (NFL Umpire), Steve Zimmer (NFL Field Judge), and Jim Mello – (NFL Head Linesman).
Colleges supervisors expected to be at the clinic include Gerald Austin (Conference USA), Jim Blackwood (Western Athletic Conference), Jim Jackson (Ohio Valley Conference), Terry McAuley (American Athletic Conference), Harold Mitchell (Southwest Athletic Conference) and (Tom Symonette - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Cardinal Gibbons vs. Coral Gables
Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy vs. Hialeah Gardens
Keys Gate Charter vs. North Miami
Hialeah vs. Palmetto
Christopher Columbus vs. Booker T. Washington
Boyd Anderson vs. South Dade
Christopher Columbus vs. Dillard
Belen Jesuit vs. Ronald Reagan
Ferguson vs. Coral Park
Hialeah-Miami Lakes vs. Braddock
Killian vs. Miami High
Coconut Creek vs. Homestead
Boyd Anderson vs. Dr. Krop
Miami Springs vs. Archbishop McCarthy
Killian vs. Dillard
South Miami vs. Mourning
Braddock vs. Ronald Reagan
Miramar vs. Oxbridge
Carol City vs. Stranahan
International School of Broward vs. Goleman
Deerfield Beach vs. Jackson
Belen Jesuit vs. McArthur
Plantation vs. Monarch
Belen Jesuit vs. Oxbridge
Piper vs. Jackson
Western vs. Monarch
Carol City vs. Fort Lauderdale
Miramar vs. Stranahan
Deerfield Beach vs. Southridge
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