Larry Blustein

SPRING SPOTLIGHT – 5A Champ Cardinal Gibbons Will Be Tested In 2019

Larry Blustein
April 09, 2019 - 9:50 am

After winning its first ever state football championship last December in Orlando – beating Ocala’s North Marion High – Cardinal Gibbons head coach Matt Dubuc and his team looked toward the 2019 season.

As classes changed in the off season – and the Chiefs who were 5A for many years – have now moved to 4A for the upcoming season – leaving longtime rival Plantation American Heritage.

Even though American Heritage stays at 5A and will not battle the Chiefs for a coveted spot in the state title game, the stakes have gone up – and getting back to defend will truly be a chore.

With longtime 6A powers Miami Carol City and Booker T. Washington – along with Miami Monsignor Pace and Fort Lauderdale’s NSU University School, the road will be long and filled with many obstacles, but this team is NOT the program of old – and learning from early season losses to Milton, Ga. and Miami Central – this could indeed be a season where this team makes major challenge.

KEY LOSSES ON OFFENSE

While things finally came together on offense down the stretch last season – this program, which lost University of Kentucky quarterback signee Nik Scalzo to an injury, started to rally around each other with sophomore signal caller Brody Palhegyi, who showed amazing poise in leading this team to a first ever state crown.

Palhegyi showed against American Heritage and Tampa Jesuit that he was more than ready for the challenge – and is equally is prepared for this coming season.

In addition, the Chiefs learned that having quality reserves can make all the difference in the world. This coming season – Will Wynn (2020) and 2021 prospect Brady Kelly – will be ready – as well as add competition to the position.

With the departure of Vince Davis to the University of Pittsburgh, it will be up to Class of 2020 standouts Coleman Bennett, Samir English-Brown and two year standout Tajae Davis – along with promising 2021 standout Messiah Johnson.

If you want to see Dubuc and his staff smile, talk about a receiving corps that may be as good as this school has had – with Class of 2020 prospects Jackson Marseille, Dario Esposito, Vamir Cadet, Jordan Freeman, Dasani Gordon and three years starter Major Wright.

The Chiefs easily have two of the best Cass of 2021 pass catcher in south Florida Jake Harrington and Troy Stellato, and 2022 rising prospects Elishia Edwards and Davon Kiser.

On one of the spots on the offensive side that really came through a year ago was the line. The Chiefs are optimistic that the group they have for the 2019 season will also take charge and provide the protection needed.

To show you how young this team will be this coming season, therer is only one Class of 2020 player, but that prospect is big time three year starter Gerald Mincey, a tackle who is among the best in south Florida.

Other linemen include 2021 standouts Connor Blake, Anthony Earle, Michael Earle, Kyle Herrera and William Spicer. There is also a very talented group in the Class 2022 – with Gabe Espinara, Ajani Robinson and Peter Striano.

DEFENSE WINS GAMES – AND CHAMPIONSHIPS

The trademark of this program over the past few years has been a tremendous defense. Quick, big and enough talent to compete with the best around.

Up front – with the loss of several key players – this is a unit that has plenty of potential – with Class of 2020 prospects Terry Marues (DT), Karl Mehrhoff and Dylan Warshefski (DE).

The underclassmen also will be impressive with 2021 standouts Jertavis Black (DT) and Joey Brooks (DE), as well as Class of 2022 prospects Damon Jackson (DT)  and Deshawn Willoughby (DE).

Over the years, one of the positions that the Chiefs have been impressive at is linebacker, and this coming season, the beat goes on with Class of 2020 emerging standouts Gabe Feliciano and Lukas Marcinkevicius.

The Class of 2021 group is also outstanding with Logan Davis, Jai Levison, Jack O’Keeffe and Gavin Selfridge – as well Class of 2022 prospects Tray Brown, Danny Feliciano and Shane Rodchester.

One of the deepest part of this program for the 2019 season will be in the secondary – as talented Class of 2020 performers Michael Antoine, Dario Esposito, Richard Haynie, Douglas transfer Roman Parodie, C.J. Saddler and Dave Williams.

There is also Class of 2021 playmakers Sanaan Cuffy, Ty Jones, Corde St. Louis, Hugo Silsby and promising Class of 2022 talent Isaiah Ferris. There is also athletic Zack Ferris (2021).

With a top kicking game over the past four years – look for that to continue with Class of 2021 special teams prospects Thomas Carney and  Hristos Kommatas.

The tragic passing of longtime coach and mentor Mark Kirby in the off season truly put perspective on this coming year – and you can guarantee that the Chiefs will embrace the role of defending state champs!

We began our series, looking at state championship game teams from 2018 with 2A state runner Champagnat Catholic and Chaminade-Madonna (3A). Next week, it’s a look at two-time state champions Miami Northwestern (6A), St. Thomas Aquinas (7A) and Christopher Columbus (8A). We will also continue to take a look at the contenders in south Florida through the spring and summer.

SPRING SPOTLIGHT

Throughout the spring and summer – we will take a look at several south Florida programs.

Click on the link to check them all out!

2A – Hialeah Champagnat. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-champagnat-...

3A – Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-can-chamina...

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