FIU 'AIR STRIKE': This weekend!

While USF had its annual 7-on-7 event cut short due to Hurricane Dennis, all attention this Saturday and Sunday will be in southwest Miami as Florida International University plays host to two-time defending 2B champion Pahokee, defending 6A champion Miami Killian and 26 other teams who are sure to produce some great talent.

MIAMI – As Don Strock and his assistant head coach Bruce Hardy, two former Miami Dolphins, ride around in the golf cart, both have arrived in a position that most former players dream of doing after their playing days.

Don Strock, FIU
Today, Strock and Hardy are trying to build Florida International University into a power. While some doubt this program will ever be able to compete with Miami, Florida or Florida State, Strock and Hardy will nearly bet their reputation that this program will be able to get to the South Florida and Central Florida soon and then take aim at the Big-3.

All the ingredients are their for FIU. Large local student body, bigger name coaches, who have proven what they can do at an elite playing level and connections – pro and college – in every direction.

The only negative is the smaller playing facility. If FIU makes it, they have to get a larger (45,000 seat) on-campus facility and that will cost money in times where the school is not looking to soak all the funds into athletics.

What FIU needs to start getting more exposure, and through Air Strike 7-on-7 events like the one that will bring in 26 teams to southwest Miami this weekend.

Terry Williams, MIAMI CENTRAL
The Air Strike has been a work in progress, but this year, this event is directly in the spotlight – in an off season that has watched the Bethune Cookman 7-on-7 put off for a year, and last weekend's USF event that drew 20 teams after being postponed the week before because of Hurricane Dennis.

With drawing cards such as Strock and Hardy as well as former Dolphin running back Tony Nathan, and University of Miami products Hurlie Brown, Clint Hurtt, Leon Searcy and Bernard "Tiger" Clark, this program has plenty of name recognition. FIU needs to further play off the attention that they have.

George Robinson, MIAMI CENTRAL
Imagine, if Strock called on a few people he knew to run an elite national passing camp, it would be off the charts. Dan Marino, alone, would attract other players, and you can bet that kids would flock to Miami from all over the country to have former college and NFL quarterbacks and wide receivers showing them something. That is truly an idea that Strock and company needs to run with – immediately! You have to play on the positives you have going for you.

Now, for this weekend's Air Strike event, defending 6A state champion Miami Killian (Billy Rolle) will be there. So will coach Leroy Foster and the two-time defending 2B state champion Pahokee Blue Devils, who happened to feature top 100 players Ricky Gary, Tamarcus Porter, Nikita White and quarterback Robert Love. They also have one of the nation's elite rising sophomores in Martavious Odom.

The Central Rockets (Anthony Saunders), after missing last week's USF event, unleashes a new quarterback and a running back, Terry Williams, who was was injured last year, receiver George Robinson and linebacker Sabbath Joseph. Also, Pompano Beach Ely (McGirt) with Avery Holley, LaRon Graham and Devan James, will be there.

Defending Air Strike champion Hollywood Hills (Al Lang) will be back with many new faces. Sophomores James McCandless (quarterback) and running back Chris Anderson are among the best in the state. Junior defensive end Jabaal Sheard is easily a top 25 player in Florida.

South Dade (Don Drinkhahn) with Lambert Edwards, Ryan Khawly and Darin Baldwin will be in the hunt for a title. So will 4A powerhouse Miami Booker T. Washington (Tim "Ice" Harris) with quarterback Alwan Lee and defensive back Chavez Grant. Miami Christopher Columbus (Chris Merritt) will also make a return appearance with Antonio Lowrey.

Key West (Key West) comes back with Laurence Marius. Plantation American Heritage (Byron Walker) brings back a loaded deck with Hollywood Christian transfer Mike Gonzalez. Royal Palm Beach (Eric Patterson) comes back south.

Antonio Lowery, MIAMI COLUMBUS
After missing out on the USF Sling & Shoot last weekend, coach Richard Stuart has his Wolverines of Miami Belen Jesuit will be back at FIU.

Miami Springs (Alex Pacheco) will be there with some talented youngsters. Miami American (Morty Bernstein), Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian (Steve Lockwood), Miami Senior (Frank Ponce), Miami Braddock (Kevin Hill) and Miami LaSalle (Willie Trimmer) will also be there.

Miami Felix Varela with coach Clark Eakes makes a return trip to the event. Miami Archbishop Curley (Greg Magner), Fort Lauderdale's (Charles Hafley) high-powered attack with quarterback Matt Johnson and receiver Xavier Harris, Vero Beach St. Edward's (Adam Toler), Pembroke Pines Flanagan (Chandler Searcy) and Miramar Parkway Academy (Harold Pearson) round out the impressive field.

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