This unofficial grouping of teams from region 4 of Class 3A is full of programs looking to show that they play good football, too. Some people will see the names and will want to dismiss these programs, but make no mistake – there are some good football players on these teams and they are led by some very good football coaches.
Homestead Everglades Prep Panthers
2016 Record: 4-5 (played in District 8-3A)
Coach: Tobar Wilson
2017 Outlook: Everglades Prep is a “small school” that has done a good job of developing its football program.
The Panthers have managed to win about half of their games over the past two years and have won the Academy Cup – the trophy awarded when Everglades Prep takes on rival Somerset Academy Silver Palms – in back to back years.
Head coach Tobar Wilson is entering his second year of leading the team and he’ll be depending on the trio of junior quarterback Demetrius Burns, running back/linebacker Terrique Lawrence and freshman athlete Sirr Daye to do much of the heavy lifting on a week to week basis.
Miami Palm Glades Prep Eagles
2016 Record: 3-3 (played in Florida Independent Football Conference)
Coach: Robert Green (1st year)
2017 Outlook: Palm Glades Prep enters the 2017 season with a new head coach after former coach and athletic director Donald March left to take the head coaching position at Southwest Miami High, his alma mater.
Robert Green has been tabbed as the new head coach.
Most new coaches want to “change the culture” within their program, but Green’s main objective will be creating a football culture for this still new program.
What will help is the fact that Palm Glades Prep has a nucleus of upperclassmen that it can lean on in 2017 – senior receivers Javonta Holmes and Ashante Appleby along with senior quarterback Marcus Spivey.
Miami Palmer Trinity Falcons
2016 Record: 7-2-1 (played in Florida Independent Football Conference)
Coach: Mark Reese
2017 Outlook: Playing independently suited Palmer Trinity very well.
The Falcons won back to back Florida Independent Football Conference (FIFC) championships (2016 & 2015) and didn’t lose a game to another FIFC opponent in that span.
Head coach Mark Reese hopes to build on that momentum and confidence, now that the Falcons are jumping back into sanctioned FHSAA play.
Palmer Trinity’s top rusher – Jalen Sloan – and top receiver – John Malloy – both return this season. Sloan (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) fell just a couple hundred yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark and led the team with eight rushing scores this past season while Malloy (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) hauled in a team-high four receiving touchdowns in 2016.
Junior Nicholas Casares will step into the role of starting quarterback in 2017. He saw limited action this past season but should fit right in because he’s grown with the rest of the returning core – like Kyon White-Royal and Alex Navarro.
Because of its favorable schedule, Palmer Trinity could repeat its success from 2016 – a seven-win season – and might be able to earn a spot in the playoffs.
Miami Pinecrest Prep Crocs
2016 Record: 1-7 (played in Florida Independent Football Conference)
Coach: Ricardo Cruz
2017 Outlook: 2017 marks the fourth year Pinecrest Prep has had a varsity football program. Focusing on the positive, the Crocs were able to capture the school’s first victory in a football game this past season – a 22-18 win over Riviera Beach Inlet Grove.
The team has a new head coach in Ricardo Cruz and they are hoping to carry that winning feeling into the 2017 season.
Pinecrest Prep has a dearth of senior leadership, but that means Coach Cruz and his staff can grow and develop the young players within the program.
Homestead Somerset Academy Silver Palms Stallions
2016 Record: 5-5 (played in District 8-3A)
Coach: Javi Valdes (1st year)
2017 Outlook: Somerset Academy Silver Palms, like its rival Everglades Prep, is another small program that has done fairly well at being a competitive team.
Credit the talent-rich Homestead area that the schools sit in.
2017 is a new beginning for the Stallions.
Veteran Miami-Dade coach Javi Valdes was brought in to replace Frank DeSousa and his hiring signifies that Somerset Silver Palms is ready to “up the ante” on its football program.
Valdes big school experience on his resume – having stints at Miami Killian (Class 8A), Miami Coral Reef (Class 8A) and Hialeah Gardens Mater Academy (Class 7A) – but he also knows what it takes to build a program from the ground up.
What will aid Valdes’ rebuild in 2017 is the return of linemen Jonathan Lorza (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and Guillermo Toro (6-foot-4, 280 pounds). Having a solid line will give Valdes some leeway as he finds new playmakers for the offense and defense.
Miami Westminster Christian Warriors
2016 Record: 5-6 (played in District 8-3A)
Coach: Ed Holly (1st year)
2017 Outlook: Remember, Westminster Christian’s football program was on the doorstep of greatness just a few short seasons ago. Then-head coach Sedrick Irvin had the Warriors in the Class 3A state semifinals and the program had a nucleus of top-notch recruits.
Since then, the program has progressively waned. Even the 2016 team still had a good core of young talented players, but the headlining trio of Kalani Norris, Demetries Ford, and Jeramy Passmore all took their talents to Miami Christopher Columbus.
Also, 2016’s head coach Earl Little took a position on Florida International University’s coaching staff.
Wiping the slate clean, Westminster Christian brought in Ed Holly to be its next head coach. Holly’s name will ring with most, as he spent 2016 in Scooba, Mississippi as the defensive coordinator for East Mississippi Community College – the team featured in Netflix’s docu-series Last Chance U.
Holly is no stranger to South Florida, though.
From 2010 to 2015, Holly served as the head football coach at Tavernier Coral Shores High, where he led the team to three straight playoff appearances in the Southeastern Football Conference (SFC).
Running Holly’s offense will be 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior quarterback Mike Baiter. Baiter played behind Harrison Easton this past season, but Easton transferred to Coral Gables High – opening the door for Baiter to shine in 2017.
New playmakers – on offense and defense – will have to emerge for the Warriors if they want to be successful this season.
Almost all the teams in this grouping are either rebuilding or building.
The one team that could have a productive year – in terms of a potential playoff berth – is Palmer Trinity. The Falcons return a nice core from a team that won a pair of independent league championships.
If things go really right for Palmer Trinity, I don’t consider it a far-fetched thought to consider them a playoff contender.
Everglades Prep is a team that could reach the .500 mark again this season because of its athletic core. Youngster Sirr Daye has star potential and he could thrive as the team’s go-to weapon.
Playoff Teams: None
Ashante Appleby – Palm Glades Prep
Carlos Teruel – Palm Glades Prep
Clifford Holmes – Somerset Silver Palms
Demetrius Burns – Everglades Prep
Elijah Nunez – Somerset Silver Palms
Guillermo Toro – Somerset Silver Palms
Ja’Morie Grier – Palm Glades Prep
Jalen Sloan – Palmer Trinity
Javonta Holmes – Palm Glades Prep
Jesse Perez – Palm Glades Prep
John Malloy – Palmer Trinity
Jonathan Lorza – Somerset Silver Palms
Kai Vargas – Somerset Silver Palms
Kavon Holmes – Everglades Prep
Kiondae Wilson – Westminster Christian
Kyon White-Royal – Palmer Trinity
Lui Ferro – Westminster Christian
Marc Franklin – Palm Glades Prep
Marcus Spivey – Palm Glades Prep
Mario Bulte – Palm Glades Prep
Michael Baiter – Westminster Christian
Nicholas Casares – Palmer Trinity
Owen Almeida – Palmer Trinity
Paulo Anastacio – Westminster Christian
Santiago Messmacher – Palmer Trinity
Sirr Daye – Everglades Prep
Terrique Lawrence – Everglades Prep
Tevin Charles – Everglades Prep
Thomas Martinez – Everglades Prep
Tyler Farias – Palmer Trinity