FLORIDA SUMMER FOOTBALL TOUR – No. 1

Last year, Pensacola Senior High nearly stunned nationally-rated Tallahassee Lincoln in the season-opener. The Tigers went on and advanced to the playoffs for the second straight year. They began our first FLORIDA SUMMER TOUR that also includes Madison County, Orlando Evans, Clearwater, Pahokee and Fort Lauderdale Dillard.<BR><BR>

Over the years, nobody has covered the entire state of Florida like we do here at Florida Kids. From meeting coaches, parents and players in locations such as Navarre, Key West and Frostproof, to checking football games in hot spots like Live Oak (Suwannee County), Naples and Vero Beach, we have been there – promoting players and programs like no other source.

Like we do each an every summer for the past three decades, Florida Kids will recognize some of the programs and players around Florida in a segment we call "FLORIDA SUMMER TOUR"

We hope that you will enjoy each segment as we travel across the state and spotlight some of the newsmakers in Florida.

Our first week will take us to budding 4A program Pensacola Senior High, east to 2A powerhouse Madison County, to Central Florida and Orlando Evans, west to Clearwater, south to visit 2B state champion Pahokee and wrap it all up with a program that is looking to return to its past glory, Fort Lauderdale Dillard.

When Coach Mike Bennett's Pensacola Tigers lost by a point to open the 2003 season at home against nationally-rated Tallahassee Lincoln, people across the state began to view the once proud Panhandle in a different manner.

Pensacola Senior is the first stop on this year's tour with a senior class that is good, but a junior class that may have the highest rated Panhandle performer in many, many years.

The Tigers are this week's team that will be in the "Florida Kids Spotlight". Because very few recruiting services or members of the media dare to explore the untapped talent of Florida's Panhandle, we felt that our opening stop on the 2004 Summer Tour should begin with a storied program that never gets the recognition that it truly deserves.

The senior class features quarterback Adron Chambers (5-11, 185), fullback/linebacker John Ellis (5-11, 225), Antoine "Pop" Jones, a 6-3, 205-pound defensive end, underpublicized center Kenny McGee (6-4, 255), lineman Rodrick Benboe (6-0, 260) and emerging runner Brady Lindsey (5-9, 180).

The Class of 2006 may be one of the school's best ever. www.floridakids.us will let you in on a secret a few months early. Our No. 1 junior in the state could very well be Florida's most dominating defensive player in Labrandon Glover.

Having watched football for 34 years in Florida, there are very few juniors who have dominated the way this 6-1, 217 pound linebacker has. He reminds me a lot of Ernie Sims, who was my No. 1 junior and senior.

Another top 15 junior to watch will be running back Courtney Jones. This 6-2, 200-pounder will emerge as one of the state's biggest and most explosive backs.

Other members of the Class of 2006 include receiver/quarterback Brett Bennett (6-0, 175), offensive linemen Josh Wright (6-4, 250) and James Richardson (6-4, 250) as well as receiver Dominic Crayton (6-2, 175), fullback Stephen Calhoun (6-0, 200).

On defense, there are linemen James Hazzard (6-2, 245), Marlon Mason (6-5, 200) and Miguel Garay (6-2, 280), and linebacker Adam Hill, a 6-0, 188-pounder.

Moving to the east on our first tour is Madison County, where head coach Frankie Carroll has his Cowboys ready for another 2A state finals run.

The senior class features linebacker Eugene Hayes (6-3, 220), versatile Tyrone Weatherspoon (5-10, 170), defensive back Brian Peacock (6-0, 205) and tight end Charlie Graham, a 6-3, 225-pounder.

The Class of 2006 is loaded as well with running back Desmond Gee (5-9, 170-pounder leading the way.

Also, rising juniors to watch include linemen Kyle Fox (6-4, 301) and Matt Thompson (6-2, 280), defensive end Rufus Wyche (6-3, 205), defensive back T.J. Reddick (5-10, 185) and versatile Fred Johnson (5-10, 195), who is Weatherspoon's half brother.

As we move down to Orlando, we find coach Max Purcell and his Evans Trojans. This is a program that has long set standards and produced some outstanding athletes.

The senior class features linebackers Reshard Albert (6-1, 205) and Marvin Peoples (6-2, 220), defensive back Ronterryeous Stewart (5-10, 180), linemen Xavier Sullivan (6-2, 255) and Vernon Jackson (6-2, 265), and tight end Sam Williams (6-3, 235).

The Trojans also have quality rising juniors in receiver Elliott Dix (6-0, 175), running back Dontae Jones (5-11, 200), defensive back Samdi Frasen (5-11, 175), fullback David Williams (6-0, 220) and lineman Abre Leggins, a 6-4, 270-pounder.

As we head west, coach Tom Bostic's Clearwater Tornadoes are always loaded with talent.

The Class of 2005 starts with tight end/defensive safety Adam Blake (6-3, 188), includes kicker Kyle Chilton (6-0, 140), running back/linebacker Jason Harris (6-0, 190), lineman Jeff Kolba (6-0, 290), quarterback Brice Lawrence (6-0, 190), defensive lineman Michael Mitchell (6-0, 210) and running back/linebacker Jabez Mitchem.

The Class of 2006 also has some stars for the future. Linebacker Aron Anderson (5-9, 160), and linemen Jarrod Holt (6-5, 290), Jeremy Hutchcraft (6-3, 205), Tony Roberts (5-10, 175) and Kalon Tew (5-11, 235).

As we move south into Palm Beach County, there is coach Leroy Foster's Pahokee Blue Devils. The defending 2B state champs that are loaded up once again.

Forget the fact that this program features one of the nation's quickest running backs in Antone Smith. This is a program that will be at – or near the top for years to come.
The senior class has the 5-9, 190-pound Smith, but also features athletic Andre Powell (6-0, 175), lineman Jasper Santos (6-2, 273), safeties Matt Paige (5-8, 185) and Shaheim Blacknall (6-0, 175), cornerback Frank Walker (5-9, 174), safety/fullback Emilio Perez (6-0, 193) and lineman Obrian Maitland (6-3, 320).

The Class of 2006 also illustrates where this program is headed with defensive back Ricky Gary (5-9, 170), lineman Marcus Harwood (6-2, 288), receivers Nikita White (6-0, 166) and Jarvis Harris (6-0, 173), quarterback Robert Love (6-0, 178), fullback Anthony Atwell (5-9, 195) and linebacker Vincent Cheves (6-0, 205).

Foster also boasts about two 2007 stars in offensive lineman Jacoby Love (6-2, 270) and defensive lineman Ronald Osborne (6-2, 245).

We wrap up the first part of our long summer tour with a trip to see Keith Franklin and his Fort Lauderdale Dillard Panthers.

Franklin takes his unique coaching style from nearby Hollywood McArthur, where he turned the Mustangs around and moved to the pressure-cooker of Dillard where winning is not an option!

The Panthers made the playoffs last year, but had a losing season. This team is loaded with seniors like linebacker Elijah Hodge (6-1, 195), defensive linemen Tavarus Wimbley (6-3, 260) and Edward Bradwell (6-1, 210), receivers Lavar Harper (6-2, 170) and Chris McClover (6-3, 175), fullback Brandon Davis (6-1, 210), athletic Derrick Smith (5-11, 175), lineman Mark Rachels (6-6, 265) and tight end Michael Haye (6-5, 210).

The Class of 2006 is also very impressive with one of the nation's elite linemen in 6-5, 322-pound Charles Deas and cornerback Greg Palmer (5-10, 170). There is also rising sophomore quarterback Terrell Robinson (5-10, 175).

That will do it for the first part of our tour. Next time, we will look at some more of the teams expected to fight for state titles as well as a look at Miami-Dade County, where the talent continues to shine!

Remember: There is no substitute for seeing this state live and in person. I have always believed that anyone can watch film and make calls to athletes. Seeing these football players in person and talking to them one-on-one is something that will last – forever!


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