FORT MYERS - Ever since Dunbar High opened its doors some six years ago, there has been talk about the Tigers becoming a force on the Lee County football season.
Whether it's been under the direction of Dave Tanner, who opened the program, or present head coach Gregory Baloga, this football team has had its share of quality talent.
After serving as an assistant coach under Mark Guandolo at Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, Baloga has started to totally put his system in place, and as the 2005 season looms on the horizon, there is plenty of optimism for a team that knocked heads with 2A state champion Immokalee last season.
"We have plenty of athletes who have worked very hard in the off season," said Baloga. "We entered the summer with a lot of enthusiasm, which shows in our daily workouts."
While the Tigers lost a few key players from last year's team, there are a number of players who come back, and that's something that Baloga and his coaching staff have been looking forward to.
The senior class has enough talent and leadership to finally reach that next level. The underclassmen on the team are also ready to step up and make a difference as well.
The Class of 2006 begins with standout Markihe Anderson, a 5-10, 175-pound receiver/defensive back, who has been recruited by Miami, Florida, FSU, Auburn, Tennessee, UCF, South Carolina and Georgia. Central Michigan and Rutgers have already offered him as a corner back.
"Markihe ran a 4.47 on grass at the University of Florida, and a 4.51 on grass at the University of Miami, " said Baloga. "This is quality athlete who has strength (250 bench) and the ability to get it done on both sides of the ball."
Another senior to watch is Leandre Calloway, a 6-2, 235-pound defensive end/outside linebacker.
"Calloway ran a 4.8 (40), put up 300 pounds in the bench and has an impressive 3.54 grad point average, which has attracted all the service academies," said Baloga. "Northwestern, UCF, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic University, Bowling Green and the Ivy League schools have been interested as well.".
Another rising senior who will be on everyone's radar screen is 5-9, 170-pound cornerback Calvin Hicks.
Hicks ran a 4.58 on grass at the University of Miami, put up 225 pounds (bench) and maintains a 2.5 core grade point average.
"UCF, Western Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois have been keeping a close eye on Calvin," Baloga said. "Temple, Eastern Kentucky, Florida International and FAU are also interested."
Running back Marcus McCullom (5-10, 180) is also on the verge of making something happen. His speed (4.57) and ability to find holes has made him someone that the Tigers believe will have a breakout year in 2005.
"Like Calvin and Leandre, schools from all over the country will be watching his every move," said Baloga. "He just needs to keep working hard in the summer as well as throughout the season."
Ben Walker is yet another rising senior who can make a major impact this coming year. The 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman already has FIU and Western Kentucky's attention.
"Ben is only getting better," said Baloga. "He is very quick (5.3) for his size and will start to attract more attention in the fall."
As the spring came to an end, Jared Buck was a player who began making some noise for Dunbar.
The 5-11, 175-pound safety not only brought football skills to the table, but had impressive (3.5 core gpa) skills in the classroom as well.
"Jared is the type of athlete who has been an example for this program on and off the playing field," said Baloga. "Some school will get an all-around student/athlete."
Other seniors who figure to make an impact include running back Jardan Battle (5-11, 185), defensive linemen Richard Smith (5-11, 205) and Theodore Simmons (6-0, 200), defensive back Jernard Franks (5-11, 170), quarterback Rafael Franklin (6-0, 165), tight end Doug Jones (6-2, 210), linebacker Francisco Mata (5-10, 220) and offensive lineman Fred Justin (6-1, 240).
The junior class is also impressive with tight end/linebacker Hezekiah Reed (6-2, 195), receiver Jeremy Satchel (6-2, 175), linebacker Chris Brown (6-2, 180), defensive backs Travarris Schley (6-0, 170) and Jhermel Knight (5-11, 185), quarterback Eric Johnson (6-2, 210), running backs John Kennedy (5-10, 170) and Emmanuel James (5-9, 165), defensive linemen Ricky Montgomery (6-3, 250), Willie Riley (5-11, 225), Averii Peterson (5-11, 230) and David Brown (6-0, 180).
There are also offensive linemen Frank Upton (6-3, 255), Brian Baker (6-0, 220), Chris Scurry (6-4, 260), Kenny Clifford (6-6, 260), Kyle Black (6-3, 220) and Chaz Newson (6-4, 310).
The Class of 2008 also looks quite promising with running back Donald Wester (5-10, 190), defensive backs Jared Franks (5-9, 170) and Lionel Callender (6-0, 170), wide receivers Darrius Preston (6-3, 170) and John Pruitt (6-1, 165), linebacker Travis Montgomery (6-2, 190) and offensive lineman Dan Parker (6-1, 230).
Running back Antavian Edwards (5-8, 175) and quarterback Melvin German (6-1, 175) are two stars of the future in the Class of 2009.
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