Inner city high schools prepare for football competition
By Derek Joy
Third of Four parts
The worst of the long hot summer is nearing an end, which beckons forth a new school year.
And thus, fall football practice is coming to a close as local high schools stage their respective “Fall Kick-off Classics” this weekend.
“The lost made us hungrier. It created a sense of urgency for the players that were juniors, sophomores and freshmen last year,” said Miami Central Rockets Head Coach Telly Lockette.
After winning it all with a 15-0 record in 2010 to claim the first State Football Championship in the school’s 49 year history, the Rockets were edged, 40-31, by Seffner Armwood in the 2011 State Class 6A Championship game.
Returning from last year’s team are two key offensive players in All State running back Joseph Yearby, and his backup, Dalvin Cook, who would start at most other local high schools. Both are juniors.
Lockette is counting two young prospects at quarterback – senior Brandon Diaz and junior L.K. Reed.
They’ll have the benefit of protection from an experienced offensive line anchored by junior Trevor Darling. Senior defensive end Devin Reed is expected to lead the defensive fireworks.
“It’s interesting what a championship does for a program,” Lockette said. It shows different personalities. Kids with fight want to be a part of your program. It’s not new to be ranked in the Top 10. Our students are up for the challenge.”
There will be myriad challenges in a District that includes Belen Jesuit, Carol City, Homestead and Miami Northwestern, where Step-hen Field earlier this year became the first Anglo head coach in Bulls history.
The Rockets face off against Palm Beach Dwyer in their “Kick-off Classic” on Aug. 24 and open the season Aug. 31, in Atlantla, Ga., against Grayson High School.
Meanwhile, the Bulls stage their “Kick-off Classic” against Booker T. Washington on Aug. 25 and open the season Aug. 31 against the North Miami Beach Chargers.
“We’ve been focused on day to day things at hand,” said Field. “We took 54 students on a 13 day trip to Tallahassee, Georgia, Louisiana and several other places. The students got a chance to visit college campuses. Some received scholarship offers.
“The idea is to show the students that how to be the best we can be with hard work and discipline. We’re really focused on the team rather than individual players.,” added Field, who recognized the impact of his offensive line coach, Vernon Carey, a former Bull and UM Hurricane who recently retired from the Miami Dolphins.
“He (Carey) has tremendous experience. We’re lucky to have him. He has made a tremendous impact on the kids in the program.”
The Bulls and Rockets have battled back and forth for years. The rockets finally got over the hump in 2010 when they won the State Class 6A Football Championship.
And they again knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs last year, only to be stopped by Seffner Armwood in the Championship Game. Belen Jesuit has played the spoiler role since it began competing in the same District with the Bulls and Rockets.
“Our District has some of the top talent in the state. There are no pushovers,” said Lockette. “Day in. Day Out. That’s competition.”