Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
In order to be considered one of the best high school football teams of all-time a few things have to be checked: state championship, undefeated season and NFL pros. The first two are checked for the 2017 American Heritage (Plantation, FL) football team but a little premature to tell if we will have NFL pros. The Heritage boys have great potential to produce NFL draft picks being that 10 players from the 2018 class alone are 3 star athletes or higher according to 247 sports.
The top four, Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell, Nesta Silvera and Andrew Chatfield will be signing their letters of intent on National Signing Day February 7th on ESPN. With possibly the biggest signing day in school history looming, the 2017 version of the Patriots might well be in consideration to be one of the best teams of all-time. Of course, we won’t truly know how talented this team is until about four or five or so years from now. Their legacy continues with its next chapter with their college destination announced Wednesday.
American Heritage defeated teams by a total of 507-171 and capped off their season with a dominating 44-15 win over Baker County in the 5A state championship game. Their strongest win, a 41-13 win over Florida 3A state champion Chaminade-Madonna. Their closest win a 58-57 overtime win over rival Cardinal Gibbons in the regional semifinals.
Other Patriots to keep an eye on in the upcoming years are Nebraska commit Miles Jones, Auburn commit Anthony Schwartz, NC State signee Calvin Hart, Western Kentucky commit Troy Ingle, UCF commit Dyllon Lester, Princeton commit Zach Zambrano and uncommitted Joshua Alexander.
It would have been nice to see this Heritage team against fellow Florida power IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL). IMG recorded wins last season against two Florida state champions in 6A Miami Northwestern (21-0) and 7A Venice (38-12), Arizona 6A state champion Chandler (27-14), and Alabama 7A state champion Hoover (32-21). Heritage and IMG do have a common 2017 opponent in Bishop Sullivan Catholic. Heritage defeated the Virginia team on the road 14-7 while IMG shutout Sullivan 48-0 at home. The football factory from Bradenton cannot compete for the state championship due to FHSAA rules.
The past three years the Ascenders completed their only undefeated seasons. The 2018 class is loaded with potential NFL stars in Clemson signee Xavier Thomas, Oklahoma signee Brendan Radley-Hines, Notre Dame signee Houston Griffith, Alabama signee Stephon Winn, Oklahoma signee T.J Pledger, Texas signee Ayodele Adeoye, Miami signee Brian Hightower, Clemson signee Mike Jones Jr. and Minnesota signee Curtis Dunlap. All in the top 50 in Florida.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) is considered the national mythical champion of the 2017 season as they were ranked number one by USA Today and MaxPreps. The Monarchs defeated Nevada 4A state champion Bishop Gorman (35-21) and Non Public Group 4 New Jersey Champion Bergen Catholic (62-14). Their 2018 class includes USC commits Amon-Ra St. Brown and JT Daniels, uncommitted four star Solomon Tuliaupupu, Alabama signee Tommy Brown, UCLA commit Chris Murray and Cal signee Nikko Remigio. All in the top 50 in California.
But again we won’t see the true legacy of these 2017 teams until years to come. Teams that have already established their legacy can make their cases as the greatest teams of all time.
2010 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort, Lauderdale, FL)
This powerhouse program has produced great teams over the past 20 years but this version of the Christian Raiders is second to none. Quarterback Jacob Rudock is among seven players that went on to play in the NFL and 22 went on to play D-1 college football. Rudock played most of his college career at Iowa before transferring to Michigan for his senior season. At Michigan he lead the wolverines to a Citrus Bowl win over Florida and was named game MVP. Rudock is currently the backup quarterback to Matthew Stafford for the Detroit Lions.
Other stars on this loaded team included first rounders Phillip Dorsett and Joey Bosa. Dorsett will play on Super Bowl Sunday and Bosa is already considered one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers for the Chargers. Rashad Greene was one of Jameis Winston’s go to receivers on Florida State’s national championship team. Bobby Hart has played two season thus far with the New York Giants totaling 20 starts at offensive tackle. Other NFL draft picks included Cody Riggs and Marcus Roberson.
Aquinas defeated their playoff opponents 215-27 and manhandled Plant 29-7 in the state championship game.
2001 De La Salle (Concord, CA)
One of the greatest sports dynasties in history. From 1994 to 2003 the school held an astonishing 151-0 record. In the 2001 season they outscored their opponents 567-96 recording four shutouts. The Spartans of the bay area defeated nationally ranked Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly along the way.
This team was powered behind the rushing attack of eventual three time NFL pro-bowler Maurice Jones-Drew. Quarterback Matt Gutierrez was projected be the starter at Michigan before suffering a shoulder injury and lost the job to eventual NFL quarterback Chad Henne. He would finish his career at Idaho State and was picked up by the New England Patriots and played backup to Tom Brady for about two seasons.
This team would also produce NFL players T.J. Ward (three time pro bowler and super bowl champion), Derek Landri, Demetrius Williams, and Cameron Colvin.
1976 Warner Robins (Georgia)
Arguably the best team from Georgia was dominate on both sides of the ball outscoring their opponents 614 to 86. This team produced 22 D-1 players and five NFL draft picks including first rounder James Brooks. Brooks was a four time pro-bowler and paired with running mate Icky Woods for the 1988 AFC Championship team for the Cincinnati Bengals. Jimmy Womack served as fullback for the University of Georgia’s championship team in 1980 where he lead blocked for heisman winner Herschel Walker.
Also drafted to the NFL were Ron Simmons, Eddie Anderson and Byron Walker.
Honorable Mention for the greatest high school football teams of all-time: 2006 Lakeland (FL), 2007 Miami Northwestern, 1997 McKinley (OH), and 1985 Yates (TX).
American Heritage has a chance to be in this elite class as time will tell just how great their legacy will become. Wednesday is a big chapter as their legacy continues to grow.