FORT LAUDERDALE – If you search around the state of Florida, there is a solid bet that you will find some impressive passing/receiving combinations. I'll even venture to say that there are a few who could establish themselves against the best in the nation.
In Broward County, there is a combo that many outside the area don't know about, but through camps, combines and an outstanding spring, Matt Johnson and Xavier Harris of Fort Lauderdale believe they can stand up to the best around.
Harris was the leading receiver in Broward County a year ago. It's an honor that some need to appreciate and recognize. To come out on top in one of the most prolific areas for high school football in the nation is certainly a major achievement.
For Johnson, who made the 2004 season one to remember for the young Flying Ls and for Harris, who caught everyone by surprise, the off season has been one of trying to get some recognition from colleges.
From the Perfect Competition event back in March, which was held in Davie, to the Nike Camp at the University of Miami and last month's Florida International University "Air Strike" 7-on-7 event, where first year coach Charles Hafley's team finished in the top 10, Johnson and Harris have turned plenty of heads.
Because Harris (6-0, 180) isn't flashy and doesn't brag a lot, he lets his play on the field do all of his talking. He did at the FIU Camp where he was pitted against some of the state's elite defensive backs, and in most matchups, he came away the winner.
"Xavier is a worker," said Fort Lauderdale assistant coach David Martin Sr. "He has made himself a better player by never settling for average things. Matt is the same way."
Johnson, who set a passing record in a wild win over Flanagan last season, has dedicated this entire off season to proving himself. He realizes that while the taller quarterbacks get all the publicity, he will have to show what he can do on the field.
"I have to go into any season feeling like I'm the best," Johnson said. "Until we knock off a big opponent, Xavier and I may not get the respect."
The Flying Ls do have district games with Nova and Hallandale, but also with Miami powerhouses Jackson, Edison and a Booker T. Washington many are picking to represent the south in the 4A title game.
Watching Harris and Johnson work their magic in some of the best off season camps have some believing that this coming year will be special. Can Harris accomplish something that may put him among the best who has ever played in Broward County and win a second title? Is Johnson ready to silence the critics who say he is too short and doesn't have a major college arm?
"If you see how hard we practice, you'll understand why we all feel this could be a special year," said Johnson. "There are plenty of outstanding players on this team to make the dreams a reality."
If you have some passing combinations who could be among the best in the state, let us know!
PASSING COMBINATION: Johnson & Harris
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