And the No. 1 high school football team entering the 2013 season is Miami
This is the fourth time in the seven-year history of the poll that a team from
the Sunshine State has started atop the RivalsHigh 100 following Miami (Fla.)
Northwestern in 2007, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas in 2009 and Tampa
(Fla.) Plant in 2010.
Central returns almost its entire offensive unit from a year ago as well as six
members of a defensive unit that showed its mettle through a tough playoff run.
COACH: Roland Smith LAST SEASON: 12-2; won Florida Class 6A state title
FINAL 2011 RANKING: No. 8 nationally.
New Miami (Fla.) Central head coach Roland Smith has been oft-credited for
getting Miami (Fla.) Northwestern on the path for its 2007 RivalsHigh 100
Smith lead Northwestern to a 2006 state title and but relieved of his duties
following a scandal involving a former player -- he and his staff were
eventually cleared of all wrongdoing -- and has spent the last six seasons
teaching at a North Miami middle school. He was hired at Miami Central in April
after former front man
Telly Lockette accepted the running backs
coaching position at USF.
Now Smith has a chance to claim a title for himself as the south Florida power
will start in the pole position atop the RivalsHigh 100 rankings entering the
Smith told the
Miami Herald that this was the right opportunity, at the right time.
"I didn't want to rush into just any situation," Smith said.
"The great thing is I get to coach again with a lot of guys that coached with me
in the past and have done an excellent job here (at Central). I'm so proud and
happy to get a chance to coach with them again."
Smith, the third former Miami Northwestern coach hired to lead Central following
Billy Rolle and Lockette, inherits a juggernaut. Central has been to and won
three consecutive Class 6A state finals and has not lost to a team from
Miami-Dade County since 2008. The team finished each of the last three seasons
ranked inside the top 30 of the RivalsHigh 100, finishing No. 8, 27 and 14 in
2012, 2011 and 2010 respectively.
This year the Rockets return 10 starters on offense and well as six on defense;
they may have the most talented roster in the country.
"Central is loaded and primed to win another state title," Codrington said.
"Obviously the one-two punch featuring Rivals100 running backs
Dalvin Cook and
Joseph Yearby makes the offense one of the most dangerous
backfields in the nation. Florida commit DeVante Phillips is
an excellent receiver and very reliable in the passing game. The offensive line
is very good with Trevor Darling, Michael Smith,
Raul Diaz, Reginald Bain and Joshua Addison to pave the way for Cook and Yearby."
Cook and Yearby are both four-star rated players in the Rivals100 presented by
Under Armour and are currently committed to Florida and Miami, respectively.
Darling is 6-foot-5, 300 pounds and committed to Miami; Smith comes in
at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds and is a USF pledge; Diaz comes in at 6-foot-2, 277
pounds and is an uncommitted three-star prospect while Bain is a two-star
committed to Florida Atlantic.
Returning under center is quarterback Keith Reed who took over at the
position last season. He will obviously be a key to the team's success.
Codrington was impressed with Nichols during the summer circuit but noted that
the defense's key player is Cook.
"He is one of the most electric players in the Class of 2014," Codrington said.
"(Cook) has big play potential and can take it the distance from anywhere on the
field and is athletic enough to be an elite running back or corner at the next
The Rockets' discipline and kicking game are the team's two biggest questions
marks heading into the season. Central was one of the most penalized teams in
the country prior to Lockette's arrival and its special teams were non-existent.
Now, with Lockette gone, will those issues return?
Smith brought a level of discipline with him to Northwestern that could carry
over but replacing Emilio Nadelman from the special teams could become an
Central won't have much time to find answers to those questions as its schedule
will offer stern test week after week.
The first challenge will be against No. 4 Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington. The
Rockets will follow that game up with a road date against the 2009 RivalsHigh
100 national champion and 2011 runner-up Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco, which is
currently ranked No. 83. Central will then host a Miami Northwestern team that
just missed the national rankings and close the regular season with No. 38 Ft.
Lauderdale (Fla.) University School in what could then be a top 10 battle.
One of the Rockets' biggest games will be on the road against Don Bosco.
Bosco has made its way to the top of the high school football mountain by
winning its out-of-state contests and using its special teams to earn victories
against some of Florida's best in Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and
Brandeton (Fla.) Manatee.
Conversely, Central has had little success on the road, losing to Loganville
(Ga.) Grayson last season, 35-3. The Rockets narrowly defeated a 3-7 Cincinnati
(Ohio) Elder team, 24-21 in 2011. In 2010, the team also fell to Kingsland (Ga.)
Camden County, 45-42.