Larry Blustein

SPRING SPOTLIGHT – University School Is Ready To Make Run Once Again In 4A

Larry Blustein
May 07, 2019 - 11:41 am

Going into the 2018 high school football season, University School head football coach Daniel Luque felt that his team had a great chance of getting to the 4A state finals.

During the course of the season, the Sharks met every challenge – convincingly beating every opponent on the way to the top seed in the region for the second straight year.

Despite a loss to eventual 3A state champs Chaminade-Madonna, there was a feeling that if this team remained focused, there was no reason that they couldn’t end up in Orlando.

In the playoffs, they cruised to wins over Miami Gulliver Prep and Glades Central for the second time in the season. Then, the meeting with perennial power Cocoa.

It was that Cocoa game that this team found out a lot about the character of this program, taking the Tigers to the limit – before dropping a heart-breaker, 32-31.

What was tough about that setback was everyone who watched the final matchup between Cocoa and Jacksonville Raines felt that if this program made the state finals, they would have brought home the school’s second state championship.

As the frustration in the off season was evident – it has served as a reminder how close this team was to winning it all.

With that tough loss as motivation, the Sharks head into the 2019 season with the belief that they have the talent and coaching to be in the mix once again.

As the landscape in 4A has changed – with the addition of defending 5A state champion Cardinal Gibbons and longtime power Miami Carol City – Coach Luque and this team still believes that there is enough talent returning, and coming in to once again go after that elusive crown.

With an upgraded schedule, including 7A McArthur, 8A Western, 2A power Miami Christian, defending 8A state runner-up Christopher Columbus, Fort Myers Bishop Verot and always competitive Immokalee among the opponents, there is indeed plenty of optimism.

DEFENSE, DEFENSE 

As a number of gifted offensive players have moved on – the defense once again will lead the way – with big time prospects all over the field.

Up front, heavily recruited sack specialist Jalen Reeves (DE) is back and will be the catalyst of this impressive group. He holds the school record with one season left.

Also, look for nose guard Jeremy Acosta, tackle Chalede Jackson and RJ Sorenson.

The linebacking corps will be impressive – with 2021 standouts Emile Aime and Zach Cowheard – as well as Sebastian Riboul, Cody Smothers and Alex Thomas.

The Sharks are always competitive in the secondary – with Neal Ashley, Mauricio Colon, Tamarii Jones-Cummings, Caetano Drinkwater, Ricardo “Rick” Hallman, Dominic Mathis, Dancy Nehimiah and Tre Sweeney.

THE RETURN OF NICK VATTIATO

If you follow high school football, you know all about Class of 2021 quarterback Nick Vattiato. Arguably the best prospect in any class in this region of the country, this impressive talent returns to help guide an offense that has plenty of new faces.

Vattiato will have Dominic Stephens along with him to start the season off.

With the departure of nationally-rated running back Kenny McIntosh, who will be at the University of Georgia, the Sharks will look to a trio of quality runners – in Max Balthazer and youngsters Jermaine Beard and Javant Brown.

The group of receivers that this program features this coming season has the potential to be extremely good.

Exciting Robert Floyd will be joined by potential playmakers Donte Alexander, Connor Donahue, Dylan Robertson, Ben Sherotta, Brenden Walterman and nationally-rated Class of 2023 prospect Brandon Inniss.

As good as the skill position players are, the Sharks and Coach Luque boast a very impressive and talented group of linemen. Leading the way is nationally-recruited Class of 2021 tackle Marcus Tate, who has emerged as one of Florida’s best – in any class.

Also up front will be Dawson Alters, David Espino, Jr, Harrison Greene, Michael Mianowski, Christian Morales, Ryan Sobel and Tajudeen Nashid Talib.

The special teams will indeed be very special with Class of 2021 kicker John Cannon, who is one of Florida’s best, and 2021 long snapper Shai Kochav.

TRACKING SOUTH FLORIDA

We began our series, looking at state championship game teams from 2018 with 2A state runner Champagnat Catholic, two-time defending champ Chaminade-Madonna (3A) defending state champion Cardinal Gibbons (5A), two-time defending state champion Miami Northwestern (6A), state runner-up St. Thomas Aquinas (7A), and new coach Dave Dunn and state runner-up Christopher Columbus (8A).

This week, with our look at the Sharks, we will continue to take a look at the contenders in south Florida.

Click on the link to check them all out!

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

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

5A – Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-5a-champ-ca...

6A – Miami Northwestern Bulls. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-northwester...

7A – Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-st-thomas-a...

8A – Miami Christopher Columbus Explorers. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-8a-unfinish...

Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each Monday night (7-8) on WQAM (560AM - https://wqam.radio.com/media/podcast/south-florida-high-school-sports-radio). For the past 12 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot about football recruiting!