HML, American football coaches prep for season

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 0 Comments

For Tyronn Johnson, the entire spring was spent building what he called a nucleus as he’s entering his second season as Hialeah Miami Lakes head football coach.

American head coach, Joe Morgan, was keeping his team intact to make a run at a sixth consecutive playoff berth and the Patriots’ fifth district championship in seven seasons.
But a new state law just derailed both coaches’ plans.

Now, student-athletes are taking advantage of the state statute, which allows them to transfer to top-ranked schools, where college scouts frequently offer players scholarships to attend big-time colleges. 

The law impacted American and Hialeah Miami Lakes football programs, as some of their Miami-Dade players are now on the rosters of storied high-school teams, and are now relying on inexperienced players to pick up the slack. 

Nonetheless, both coaches like their teams’ chances for the 2017 season.

Johnson said his Trojans looked “good” during spring practice and their Jamboree game, a promising sign for the upcoming regular season.

But in June and July, three of his top players transferred to state champion Carol City, Northwestern, Norland and Central, winner of four straight state titles, and some of their teammates followed their lead.

The depletion of his team left Johnson disheartened and forced him to rebuild his team a second time, as the Trojans open the regular season against Palmetto, on Saturday, August 26.  

“The law put us in a tough position,” Johnson said. “We have to take it one game at at time. We have to do our best with what we have.”

Like Johnson, Morgan is entering his second year as the Patriots’ head coach, and his biggest challenge of convincing his players to stay put was to no avail.

“They were worried about scouts coming to their games and earning scholarships,” Morgan said. “I told them it’s not where you are, it’s how well you are playing. They will come and scout you on how well your perform on the football field and classroom.”

He may get to see some of his former players when the Patriots kick-off the regular season against storied program Northwestern on Friday, August 25, and their last game of the season against Carol City in November.

Or, maybe on other teams on American’s 2017 schedule.

Northwestern and Carol City combined for a total of 12 state championships in football, and most of their players went on to play for storied colleges and later were drafted in the NFL.

But for his players this season, Morgan is encouraging them to overcome their intimidation of the legacies of Northwestern and Carol City, as American will play a tougher schedule this season.

Following Northwestern, the Patriots, ranked No. 208 in the state by Max Preps, take on powerhouses Killian; two-time state champion Norland; a date with North Miami in September; Krop in October; and North Miami Beach, which snatched the district title away from American.
The Patriots, who lost to Columbus in the regional quarterfinal, won five consecutive district titles before the Chargers claimed the championship last year

Morgan said his roster includes seven returning starters with senior Wayna Williams as the starting quarterback.

Williams took over for the injured Tyree Bibby in the Patriots’ loss to the Bulls, and led American to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

“He’s done everything we asked of him,” Morgan said. “He’s pretty talented but some things he needs to brush up on. We all need to brush up on some things.”

Morgan said senior running back Chaaleb Womble gets the start because of his play style.
“He’s very physical, a good runner with toughness,” he said.

Morgan, who was previously American’s defense coordinator, said his defense is a work in progress with some inexperienced players.

“But they are very athletic,” he said.
His defense includes senior defensive tackle and linebacker Dorian Mathis, senior cornerbacks Jeremiah Simeon and Xavier Lopez, and junior defensive tackle Jaylin Norman.

Morgan is hoping for a different result against Northwestern after last year’s, 40-16, loss despite the Bulls committing 12 penalties for 90 yards.  

American lost to Norland, 70-0, and fell to Carol City, 45-0.

In fact, in their six losses last season, the Patriots’ defense gave up 267 points. 

Morgan believes his players couldn’t overcome the mystics of Northwestern, Carol City and Norland after he repeatedly told them it’s just a football game.

“They have to put up and play ball and not be intimidated about the legacy of Northwestern and other schools,” he said. “HML also plays a difficult schedule, which includes Northwestern, Carol City, Norland, Central, American and Miami Beach.

The Trojans are seeking to turn around last year’s team, which finished the season 2-8.

The Hialeah Thoroughbreds are HML’s biggest rival, as the two teams clash annually in the Big-T Trophy game on Friday, September 8.

Hialeah took home the trophy with a 32-17 victory last year. 

With eight returning starters, the Trojans’ rebuilding process centers on quarterback Antonio Carballo, who Johnson said gives them the best shot at winning.

Despite his players’ defections, Johnson, a Miami native who played for the San Francisco 49ers, said his team has a good line on both sides of the football.

“That’s what gives me confidence for this team,” he said. “That’s what wins ball games.”

Trojans’ junior safety Joseph Orizon said his team has no fear entering the season.

“We are not scared of anyone or any team,” he said. “We work hard everyday and we are looking good.”

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