Tucked away in one of the southern-most corners of Miami-Dade County, sits a 10-year-old charter school that has won 60 percent of its football games over the past three years.
Despite their respectable win-loss record in recent history, most people still don’t know about Homestead Somerset Academy Silver Palms’ football program because it has failed to secure a playoff berth.
But the Stallions are ready to change that.
Football Hotbed confirmed Thursday that former Miami Killian head coach Javi Valdes has been tabbed to become Somerset Silver Palms’ new head coach.
Valdes replaces Frank DeSousa, who led the Stallions’ football program since its inception in 2013. Additionally, Somerset Academy Silver Palms has brought in Ken Floyd to serve as the school’s athletic director. Floyd and Valdes worked together at Killian in 2016.
Hiring Valdes gives Somerset Academy Silver Palms one of Miami-Dade County’s more respected yet still young coaches. Valdes’ resume includes head coaching experience at Mater Academy, Coral Reef, and Killian as well as stints as an assistant at other large programs.
Valdes said he is excited for the new challenge ahead of him.
“Things just kind of fell into place,” Valdes began. “I’ve had a lot of blessing come to me lately and this is definitely one of them. Somerset Academy [Silver Palms] is an excellent academic school that sits in a very talented area. I’m excited…it’s going to be an uphill battle, but we’re going to set a new standard for the players and the program. We’re going to attack it day by day.”
Somerset Silver Palms began playing varsity level football in 2014 after spending a season playing “8-man football”. The Stallions competed in District 8-3A – with Everglades Prep, Miami Westminster Christian, and Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna – the past two seasons.
However, with the new FHSAA playoff point system doing away with formed districts in classes 4A through 1A, teams will be able to freely build a schedule to accumulate the necessary points to secure a playoff spot.
Bringing in Valdes – and by extension, Floyd – shows Somerset Silver Palms’ administration wants to “up the ante” on its football program.
“They said ‘we want to give the football program a spark’,” Valdes said. “And they saw that I am familiar with working at a charter school and heading a football program at a charter school from my time at Mater Academy. Until Mater Academy came along, no charter school really had done much in terms of football. So, they know that I know what it takes to elevate a program like this.”
Somerset Academy Silver Palms has had a handful of talented players come through the program. Quarterback James Padro graduated in 2016 and holds multiple school passing records and 2017 linebacker Aaron Chichester became the school’s first Division-I football signee when he signed with Jacksonville University.
2018 3-star running back Lentivone Lesane, who recently committed to UCLA, began his career at Somerset Silver Palms before taking his talents to Mater Academy.
Valdes outlined his plan for the rebuild.
“We’re going to be an active program – every day,” Valdes said. “We’re going to be active in the community, we’re going to be active during the offseason – going to camps, combines and 7-on-7’s – and we’re going to be active in the weight room. The kids that are here now will lay the foundation for what this program will become.”