Saturday, December 29, 2007
Top to bottom: Booker T. Washington head coach Tim "Ice" Harris, Ely cornerback Patrick Johnson and Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris
The 2007 high school football season was perhaps the greatest ever in South Florida history. Three local teams won state championships--Northwestern in Class 6A, St. Thomas Aquinas in Class 5A and Booker T. Washington in Class 4A. USA Today recently named Northwestern as its national champion and Booker T. Washington finished 8th nationally.
But as great as the teams were, the individual talent in South Florida is as good as it's ever been. But who were the very best players in South Florida? Here's a look at the best senior high school football players in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. This is the first annual 2007 MiamiSouthPaw South Florida Dream Team--hopefully the beginning of a great tradition. Remember these names. Most of them will be playing college football in the next four years and a few of them will be playing in the NFL.
QB Jacory Harris (6'4, 171) - Northwestern: Offensive Player of the Year, Harris led Northwestern to its second consecutive Class 6A state title and a mythical national championship. He holds every career Dade County passing record including 6,365 passing yards and 86 touchdown passes and a 30-0 career record as a starter. This season Harris threw for 3,445 yards, 49 TD passes and only 6 interceptions...has verbally committed to the University of Miami.
RB Mike Barasch - University School: Set a Broward County record with 2,071 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns during the regular season. Led University to the state playoffs for the first time in school history...Will attend Florida Atlantic University.
RB Jeremiah Harden - St. Thomas Aquinas: Rushed for 1,316 yards and 18 touchdowns. Led St. Thomas Aquinas to the Class 5A state championship and had an 84 yard touchdown run against Kissimmee Osceola in the state championship game--the longest run ever in a state title game. Harden currently has scholarship offers from Syracuse, Wisconsin and South Florida.
RB Aaron Winchester - North Miami Beach: A one-man gang for the North Miami Beach Chargers, Winchester rushed for 1,996 yards and also intercepted 6 passes on defense as a cornerback. He led NMB to an undefeated regular season (10-0)...verbally committed to Western Michigan University.
WR Aldarius Johnson - Northwestern: Named 2nd team All American by USA Today and one of the nation's top rated receivers. Johnson led Northwestern with 76 catches for 930 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2007. Johnson had over 1,000 yards receiving last year as a junior. Caught a 29 yard touchdown pass in the state championship game against Orlando Boone...will attend the University of Miami.
WR Davon Johnson - Booker T. Washington: Considered one of the fastest and most explosive receivers in the nation, Davon Johnson caught 27 passes for 628 yards and 7 touchdowns. Johnson also returned 2 punts and 2 kickoffs for touchdowns. He help Booker T. Washington to the Class 4A state championship...verbally committed to the University of Miami.
WR Tommy Streeter - Northwestern: At 6'5 and 200 pounds, Streeter is a physical mismatch for short defensive backs. He caught 36 passes for 676 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2007. Streeter had 3 touchdown catches in a victory over Texas power Southlake Carroll during the season. Heavily recruited, Streeter has yet to choose a college or university.
TE Bo Reliford - Dillard: A physical speciman at 6'6 and 235 pounds, Reliford is also one of Broward County's top basketball players and one of the state's best tight ends. He has a chance to play either football or basketball in college. Reliford currently has scholarship offers from Central Florida and Ole Miss.
OL Andrew Datko - St. Thomas Aquinas
: At 6'6 and 267 pounds, Datko anchored an offensive line that led Broward County in total offense and was a key member of the Class 5A state champs...has verbally committed to attend Florida State University.
OL Mike Goodman - Columbus: One of the state's most heavily recruited offensive linemen, Goodman helped teammates Jaren Jones and Jakhari Gore rush for over 1,000 yards and was a key member of a Columbus's 10-0 perfect regular season...verbally committed to Boston College.
OL Benjamin Jones - Northwestern: Made the smooth transition from defensive line to offensive line this season. Big and powerful at 6'6 and 270 pounds, Jones also benches 320 pounds and squats 485 pounds...has been offered scholarships by several schools including Miami, Florida, FSU, LSU and Ohio State.
OL Greg Shaw - Monsignor Pace: Two-time all state offensive lineman who stands 6'6 and 280 pounds. Shaw is the younger half brother of former Carol City star Willie Williams. He has scholarship offers from Florida, Georgia Tech, South Florida, LSU and West Virginia.
OL Brandon Washington - Northwestern: Massive guard who stands 6'4 and 314 pounds and is considered an excellent run blocker. Transferred to Northwestern from Edison High and anchored the Bulls offensive line to a state championship...verbally committed to the University of Miami but also has offers from Clemson, LSU and Florida.
ATH T.Y. Hilton - Miami Springs: One of the best all-around athletes in South Florida, Hilton starred at wide receiver, defensive back and returned kicks. Hilton had 785 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns this season. He's also one of Dade County's best basketball players as a point guard. Hilton has scholarship offers from Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
DL Marcus Forston - Northwestern: Considered one the nation's best defensive tackles in the nation and the best in the state. Forston was named All American by USA Today. This year he registered 19 quarterback sacks and was the MVP of the Clas 6A state championship game...has already committed to the University of Miami.
DL Johnathan Jackson - Booker T. Washington: Undersized at 6'3 and only 215 pounds, Jackson overwhelmed his bigger opponents with quickness and technique and anchored the best defense in Dade County that allowed only 3.2 points per game. Jackson had 4 sacks in the 4A state championship game against Ponte Vedra Nease.
DL Corey Liuget - Hialeah: A pass rushing machine, Liuget had 15 sacks and 50 tackles despite missing a few games due to injuries. The 6'3, 270 pounder is currently verbally committed to the University of Illinois.
DL Andrew Smith - Monarch: A sleeper prospect who blossomed his senior year and dominated Broward County with 80 tackles and 15 quarterback sacks. Smith was named All-Broward County by the Sun Sentinel and verbally committed to the University of Miami.
LB Marcus Robinson - Homestead: Blessed with great speed and instincts, Robinson is rated as one of the nation's best linebackers. He was chosen to play in the U.S. Army National All Star Game and runs a 4.5 in the 40 yard dash. He is currently committed to the University of Miami.
LB Etienne Sabino - Dr. Krop: One of the nation's top rated linebackers, Sabino was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All American All Star Game. The 6'3, 235 pound Sabino will play his college football at Ohio State.
LB Sean Spence - Northwestern: Instinctive linebacker who excells against the run and pass. Spence is a rare 3-time All Dade County star and was chosen to play in ESPN's All American All Star Game. Spence started 41 games in his high school career and led Northwestern in tackles every year since his sophomore season....will attend the University of Miami.
LB Kambriel Willis - Booker T. Washington - Despite his small stature (5'11 and 181 pounds), Willis was statistically the most dominant pass rushers in South Florida. He terrorized Dade County quarterbacks, registering 20 sacks during the regular season. Willis will play his college football at Florida International University.
DB Stephen Atkinson - Cardinal Gibbons: Hard hitting safety and a team leader, Atkinson intercepted 4 passes this season and is an outstanding tackler. He will attend Boston College.
DB Brandon Harris - Booker T. Washington: Perhaps the most versatile high school player in the state, Harris played cornerback, receiver, returned kicks and even saw action at quarterback. He is the son of his head coach Tim "Ice" Harris who is the Coach of the Year. Brandon intercepted 4 passes, returning 2 for touchdowns and helped Booker T. Washington win the 4A title. He was named Gatorade Florida Player of the Year and has a 3.9 grade point average in the classroom. He is currently undecided on where he will attend college.
DB Patrick Johnson - Blanche Ely: Defensive Player of the Year, Johnson did everything for the Ely Tigers. At 6'1 and blessed with 4.37 speed in the 40, Johnson intercepted 7 passes and returned one for a touchdown. He had three other interception returns for touchdowns nullified due to penalties. On offense, Johnson accounted for 9 touchdowns. Johnson has been named to virtually every All American team and was chosen National Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today. He is verbally committed to the University of Miami but is also considering Florida, LSU and USC.
DB Jerral Stewart - Deerfield Beach: Standing only 5'8 and just 160 pounds, Stewart is the smallest player on the South Florida Dream Team. But his talent is as big as anyone's. He intercepted 8 passes to lead all Broward County big-school players and led the Deerfield Beach Bucks to the Class 6A semifinals, losing a heartbreaker to Northwestern.
ATH George Baker - Archbishop Carroll: Great athlete who played running back and defensive back. Baker led his team to the Class 2A semifinals, the best finish in school history. Rushed for 1,010 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense and made 50 tackles on defense...verbally committed to Auburn University.
KR Phillip Pierre-Louis - St. Thomas Aquinas: One of the fastest athletes in the state, Pierre-Louis returned 4 punts for touchdowns and was also the leading receiver on the Raiders Class 5A state championship team.
P Chad Saladrigas - Cypress Bay: Blessed with a strong leg, Saladrigas averaged 45.1 yards per punt on 24 punts and had a long of 70 yards. Named All Broward County by the Sun Sentinel.
K Blair Walsh - Cardinal Gibbons: Considered the best place kicker in the nation and has extraordinary leg strength and accuracy. Walsh, made a 57 yard field goal and narrowly missed a 65 yard attempt during the season. He also had a 58 yarder his junior year. Walsh was named to the USA Today All American team and will attend the University of Georgia.
Head Coach Tim "Ice" Harris - Booker T. Washington: Led Booker T. Washington to a perfect 15-0 record and the school's first FHSAA Class 4A state championship. Since taking over the Booker T. program in 2003, the Tornadoes are 62-7 under Harris and have reached at least the state semifinals in all five seasons. Harris was named National Coach of the Year by USA Today. His son Brandon Harris was chosen as a defensive back to the South Florida Dream Team.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
They're the best high school football team Dade County has arguably ever produced and now they're officially the best in the nation. Congratulations to head coach Billy Rolle and the Miami Northwestern Bulls. USA Today officially named Northwestern its national champion after capping off a perfect 15-0 season and a second consecutive Class 6A state title. The Bulls become the first team from South Florida to win USA Today's title since the paper began its national high school football poll in 1982. Northwestern also becomes the third team from Florida to win the national championship, joining the 1988 Pensacola Pine Forest Eagles and the 2005 Lakeland Dreadnaughts.
But the Bulls were not the only Miami-Dade County school ranked in USA Today's Top 25. Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown finished 8th in the nation. Both teams won the state titles in their respective classifications. Two weeks ago, Northwestern crushed Orlando's Boone High School 41-0 in the Class 6A championship game, while Booker T. Washington beat Ponte Vedra Nease in the 4A title game. Broward's St. Thomas Aquinas won the 5A championship beating Kissimmee's Osceola High School. It was truly a year to remember for South Florida high school football.
How good is Northwestern? The Bulls have won 30 consecutive games dating back to 2005. Nineteen seniors are expected to attend college on football scholarships next year and 30 players on the roster are considered legitimate college prospects. Six Northwestern players have already verbally committed to attend the University of Miami. They include quarterback Jacory Harris, who set virtually every passing record in Dade County history. Harris threw 49 touchdown passes this season and had a great trio of receivers including Aldarius Johnson, Kendal Thompkins and Tommy Streeter. Johnson and Thompkins will join Harris at UM, while Streeter remains undecided on his college choice. Offensive lineman Brandon Washington, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and linebacker Sean Spence will also attend UM.
While few followers of South Florida high school football are surprised by Northwestern's championship season. It almost never happened. Miami-Dade School Superintendent Rudy Crew nearly cancelled Northwestern's season in the wake of a coverup of a sex scandal involving former player Antwain Easterling.
Former school principal Dwight Bernard along with head coach Roland Smith were fired after they failed to report Easterling to the police for having sex in the school bathroom with a 14 year old student. Easterling was 18 years old at the time. Not only did the they fail report the crime, Bernard and Smith gave Easterling permission to play in last year's state championship game. Easterling rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown to help the Bulls win last year's 6A title.
In the wake of the scandal, Billy Rolle and new princicpal Charles Hankerson were brought in to clean up the program. So far, so good. Rolle had coached Northwestern from 1997 to 2000 and led the Bulls to the state title in 1998. He also coached at Killian High from 2001 to 2006 and won a state title in 2004. Under Hankerson, Northwestern's enrollment has improved dramatically with 90 percent attendance. But the Liberty City school continues to face the unique challenges most inner city schools continue to struggle with. Northwestern is located across the street from the infamous Pork and Beans housing project--one of the poorest and most economically depressed areas in Miami. The students at Northwestern overcome obstacles just to graduate from school. They're surrounded by gangs, drugs, violence and poverty. Hankerson became Northwestern's fourth principal in just the last two years.
Despite all the obstacles, Northwestern is seen as a beacon of hope in Liberty City. Football has always given the school a unique sense of pride. Northwestern has won 4 state championships. But for the first time, the Bulls can say they're the best in the nation. It's a crown all of Liberty City and the Northwestern community will wear proudly.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Happy 61st birthday to former Miami Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka. During the 1970s, Csonka was pro football's most powerful running back who often trampled and knocked over defenders like a Mack truck through bowling pins. He was the face and personification of the great Dolphin teams of the early 1970s--including the 1972 undefeated team.
Born Lawrence Richard Csonka in Stow, Ohio, he grew up on a farm as one of six children from a Hungarian family. Csonka was always unusually large and strong. He weighed 10 pounds when he was born and weighed 150 pounds by the age of 12.
His football career began at Stow-Munroe Falls High School where he played defensive end as a sophomore. His transition to running back came as an accident. In the final game of his sophomore year he was sent in as a substitute as a kickoff returner. He returned the kick almost for a touchdown and nearly ran over the entire opposing team. From that point on, it was obvious Csonka had a gift for running with the football. By his senior year, Csonka led his high school team to the Metropolitan League Championship in Akron, Ohio. He graduated in 1964 and earned a football scholarship to Syracuse University.
In his three seasons on the Syracuse varsity, Csonka broke school records that were previously held by great players like Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little. He finished his college career with 2,934 yards, 14 100-yard games and was named consensus All American by his senior year in 1967. He finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting and was selected in the first round by the Dolphins in the 1968 NFL Draft.
Csonka was the workhorse of Dolphin teams that dominated the NFL in the early 1970s. He led the Dolphins to three consecutive AFC Championships in 1971, 1972 and 1973. He surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in all three seasons with his best production--1,117 yards--coming during the Dolphins' perfect season in 1972. All AFC three straight seasons (1971-73) and All Pro in 1971, Csonka was selected to play in five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1970 to 1974, although injuries forced him to miss two of those games.
His most memorable performance came in Super Bowl VIII, when he was selected most valuable player. Miami's powerful rushing attack was at its best with Csonka carrying 33 times for a then-Super Bowl record 145 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. He finished his pro career with 8,081 yards rushing and fumbled only 21 times in 1,997 career ball handling opportunities.
Csonka startled the pro football world by playing out his option with the Dolphins in 1974 to join the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League, along with Dolphin teammates Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield. When the WFL folded, he joined the New York Giants as a free agent in 1976. He enjoyed moderate success with the Giants before returning to the Dolphins fo a final 1979 season.
After his football career, Csonka has become a motiviational speaker and has hosted several hunting and fishing shows on the old Outdoor Life Network. He once worked as the General Manager of the Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League and even co-hosted the TV show American Gladiators from 1990 to 1993. He currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Happy 53rd birthday to tennis legend Chris Evert. A Fort Lauderdale native, Evert was most dominant female athlete to ever come out of South Florida and one of the greatest tennis players to ever pick up a racquet. During her illustrious career, Evert won an amazing 157 singles titles including 18 grand slam titles along with 72 career runner-up finishes. During the 1970s and early 80s she was arguably the most decorated tennis champion--male or female--in the world.
Born Christine Marie Evert in Fort Lauderdale, she started playing tennis at age five. Her father Jimmy Evert was a well-known tennis coach who taught many of South Florida's best youth players at the public tennis courts at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. Jennifer Capriati was one of Jimmy Evert's students. By 1969, Chris was the #1 ranked girl in the United States among ages 14 and under.
She went on to attend St. Thomas Aquinas High School and began competing profesionally at the same time. By age 15, she beat Australia's Margaret Court, who was the #1 women's player in the world at the time. She was so good and so young, she skipped her senior prom to compete in Wimbledon. By the early 1970s, she burst onto the tennis scene as a tall, slender blonde with ribbons in her hair filled with a fierce competitive spirit. She began to develop a reputation as an intense competitor and was nicknamed "The Ice Maiden" by the media. She rarely showed emotion on the court and was always in control--often intimidating her overmatched opponents.
By the mid 1970s, Evert was by far the best women's player in the world. By 1976, she had won all four gland slam tournaments. (Wimbledon, French Open, U.S. and the Australian Opens). For a brief time she was engaged to Jimmy Connors, who was the number one men's player in the world at the time. The romance didn't last, but Evert's dominance just kept going.
But in the late 1970s another great player who defected from Czechoslovakia named Martina Navratilova burst onto the scene and became Evert's biggest rival. The Evert vs. Navratilova rivlary would eventually become the greatest in tennis history and arguably one of the greatest in all of sports. Evert dominated their early matches. But by the 1980s, Navratilova overtook Evert and became the dominant player in the world. Evert and Navratilova met an amazing 14 times in Grand Slam finals, with Navratilova winnning 10 of the matches.
Evert's career was remarkably consistant. She never lost in the first round of any tournament and never failed to at least reach the semifinals of the 34 grand slam tournaments she competed in. She retired in 1989 and set standards that have yet to be duplicated. Evert was voted Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year four times. Tennis Magazine ranked her 4th on the its list of the 40 greatest players of all time. She was the first female athlete to host Saturday Night Live. She is currently engaged to golfer Greg Norman and runs a tennis academy with Robert Seguso and his wife Carling Bassett-Seguso.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I will never accuse Wayne Huizenga of not caring enough about his team. With Bill Parcells on the verge of signing a contract for a front office job with the Atlanta Falcons, Huizenga swooped in and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. When it was over, Parcells was signed, sealed and delivered to the Dolphins. He is now the Dolphins Vice President in charge of football operations.
If you're a Dolphins fan, you have to be ecstatic. Parcells' track record speaks for itself. As a head coach, he led the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990. He led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996. He also led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 1998. In just the last few years, he took a losing Dallas Cowboys team and has built it into the Super Bowl contender it is today. There is one common denominator to all of Parcells's jobs. He made every franchise he worked for better.
But Parcells will have his work cut out for him in Miami. This time he will be asked to rebuild a franchise that is in complete shambles. Never has he inherited a team in such bad shape. What's also different is this time he will not be the head coach. He will be making the personnel decisions, but not from the sidelines. Whoever coaches the Dolphins next year will have to swallow their ego and answer to the man known as "The Big Tuna".
For now, that man is Cam Cameron. But what is Cameron's future? My first reaction was this will probably be the end of Cameron as Dolphins head coach. Usually when changes are made in the front office, head coaches are replaced in favor of someone who fits the philosophy of the new management. But an intersting factor could keep Cameron in Miami. Parcells is a good friend of legendary and volatile college basketball coach Bob Knight. It just so happens, Cameron played basketball for Knight at Indiana University and got his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at Michigan thanks to a recommendation from Bob Knight to then Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler.
Now it's hard to imagine that Cameron could keep his job just because of Bob Knight. But don't underestimate Knight's close ties to Parcells and Cameron. There's a tremendous amount of mutual respect between Parcells and Knight. Right now Cameron is hanging on by a thread to keep his job. Had it not been for Greg Camarillo's overtime touchdown against the Ravens, the Dolphins would have likely gone winless this season. I doubt Cameron could have kept his job if the Dolphins finished 0-16.
The man who has the most to lose is general manager Randy Mueller. Let's face it. Parcells's job is to repair the mess created by Mueller and his predecessor Rick Speilman. Their horrible personnel decisions and blunders have sent Dolphins down to the dregs of football. Bottom line, Mueller better start packing his bags and cleaning out his desk.
While I'm excited about the Parcells hire, part of me has seen this act before. Just a decade ago, Huizenga hired Jimmy Johnson to be the savior of the franchise. But instead of taking the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl, Johnson's legacy will be remembered for his clash of egos with Dan Marino and his inability to improve the Dolphins offense. By his final year as head coach, Johnson had grown tired of coaching and retired for good in the Keys. More recently, Nick Saban was hired two years ago to be the savior. Well, we all know what happened with that experiment.
The truth is Parcells is 66 years old. He also has a history of heart problems. How much energy does he have left? This is not going to be a quick fix. It will take extraordinary time and dedication to put this franchise back on top. Parcells is a proven winner. But will that be enough to make Miami a winner again? We shall see.
For 26 years, Walt Frazier was an iconic figure at Miami Carol City High School. A strict taskmaster and known for wearing his trademark train engineer's hat on the sidelines, few high school coaches won more games, championships or sent more kids to college than Frazier. Frazier announced his retirement yesterday ending an amazing coaching career that ranks among the best ever in state history.
His Carol City Chiefs won three Class 6A state championships in 1996, 1997 and 2003 and were state runners-up in 1989. The 1997 team went 15-0, his only undefeated season and finished #5 in the nation by USA Today. From 1996 to 1997, the Chiefs won a then Dade County record 29 consecutive games. The record was recently broken by Northwestern High. His career record of 212-111 ranks third all time in Miami-Dade County history behind Coral Gables legend Nick Kotys (258) and Jim Kroll (213) who coached at Southwest, Miami Beach and Palmetto. Two weeks ago, the FHSAA named Frazier as one of the 12 greatest coaches in state history. He was one of 3 Dade County coaches named to the prestigious list along with Kotys and Nathaniel "Traz" Powell, who coached at Carver and Mays high schools during segregation from 1948 to 1968. St. Thomas Aquinas coach George Smith was the only Broward coach named to the list.
Before he arrived at Carol City in 1983, Frazier coached at Northwestern High School from 1975 to 1977 and was an offensive line coach at Hialeah-Miami Lakes. He started wearing his trademark hat as a tribute to his father who worked as a railroad worker and instilled in him the values of discipline and hard work. Contrary to popular belief, Frazier doesn't own just one hat. Over the year's he's worn many and has collected hats from friends and admirers.
While there is no official statistic, it's hard to imagine any coach in Dade County history ever sent more of his players to college than Frazier. His former players range from current NFL players like brothers Santana Moss and Sinorice Moss to rapper Rick Ross, whose real name is William Roberts and played offensive line for the Chiefs in the early 1990s. Frazier's teams were a reflection of his personality. They were simple, yet extremely tough. The Chiefs relied on a power running game and dominant defense.
It's easy to recognize a great coach for his won-loss record. But the true measure of Frazier's success was the impact he made on his player's lives and turning boys into men. I've never met or knew Walt Frazier personally. But I have met a couple of people who have played for him and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more respected and beloved individual. For those who love high school football everywhere, the game will never be quite the same without him.
Notable Carol City athletes who played for Frazier:
Rudy Barber - former offensive lineman at UM
Delvin Brown - former safety at UM
Teako Brown - former safety at UF
Ricky Jean Francois - defensive lineman at LSU
Donald Heaven - former offensive lineman at FSU
Aubrey Hill - former receiver at UF
Bradley Jennings - former linebacker at FSU
Willie Jones - former defensive end at FSU
Santana Moss - wide receiver at UM and the NFL
Sinorice Moss - wide receiver at UM and the NFL
Godfrey Myles - former linebacker at UF and the NFL
Tim Paulk - former linebacker at UF
Kenny Phillips - safety at UM
Williams Roberts - former All-Dade lineman, later became rapper Rick Ross
Stanford Samuels - former DB at FSU
Ethenic Sands - Great high school QB who became a receiver at UM
Kevin Simons - former offensive lineman at Tennessee and the NFL
Del Speer - former DB at UF and the NFL
Willie Williams - great high school linebacker who had stints at UM and Louisville
Monday, December 17, 2007
Greg Camarillo celebrates in the end zone after scoring the winning touchdown
A wise man once said, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then." It's taken the Miami Dolphins over a year to find their nut. But the drought is finally over. For the first time since December 10, 2006, the Dolphins can finally call themselves winners. Reserve wide receiver Greg Camarillo scored the winning touchdown in overtime to give the Dolphins a 22-16 victory over the Ravens.
I won't lie to you. The losing was really starting to take a toll on my mental health. For over a month, I stopped posting on this blog. It got to the point where I was not going to post anything until the Dolphins won a game. I figured it was easier to keep this promise than to rather stop shaving or showering until the Dolphins won again. Thank God I didn't resort to those extreme measures.
Every Dolphin fan should celebrate this victory. Nobody who calls themselves a Dolphin fan wanted to see this team go 0-16. But let's be honest. Cam Cameron tried his best to lose this game. He really did. Week after week, Cameron and the Dolphins would find ways to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. But this time Ravens coach Brian Billick decided he would top Cameron with a special blend of incompetance of Rich Kotite proportions.
After the Dolphins took a 16-13 lead on a Jay Feely field goal, Feely was instructed to boot a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff. Unfortunately instead of executing the kick, Feely should have been executed after he kicked the ball out of bounds, giving the Ravens excellent field position. Baltimore quickly took advantage of Feely's mistake by driving down the field behind the arm of last year's Heisman winner Troy Smith, who replaced an injured Kyle Boller. The Ravens drove to the Dolphins 1 yard line. But with time for only one more play in regulation, Billick decided to kick a tying field goal rather than win the game with a touchdown. Consider this, the Ravens had Willis McGahee, who had rushed for 104 yards in the game. The Dolphins rush defense ranked last in the NFL. But despite those stats, Billick decide to bring in kicker Matt Stover who tied the game with an 18 yard chip shot field goal.
The Ravens won the coin toss in overtime and quickly drove deep into Miami territory again. But this time Stover missed a 44 yard attempt. Cleo Lemon finished off the Ravens by finding reserve reserve receiver Greg Camarillo over the middle. Camarillo found a soft spot in the Ravens coverage and raced 64 yards for the winning score.
Several people deserve game balls for this victory. First, let's give a warm round of applause to Brian Billick for his complete lack of balls and not going for the winning touchdown. Cameron should send Billick a gift basket for basically saving his job. If the Dolphins had lost, there's no doubt this team goes 0-16 and Cameron is kicked to the curb with a pink slip in his hand.
Secondly, Jason Taylor was not going to let the Dolphins defense lose. Taylor had a pair of sacks. The first came on a 3rd and goal at the 3 yard line and held the Ravens to a field goal. The second sack took the Ravens out of field goal range.
Thirdly, you gotta give some love to Greg Camarillo. When the season began, I didn't even know who this guy was. Apparently neither did Dolphins radio broadcaster Jim Mandich. When Camarillo crossed the end zone, Mandich screamed, "I love Rich Camarillo!" The problem is Rich Camarillo was a punter who played for the New England Patriots in the 1980s. Oh well. In a season of imperfection, it was only fitting Mandich would butcher the call of Miami's lone winning touchdown.
Another game ball should go to Wayne Huizenga. Through all the losing, no man had to feel more anguish than the Dolphins beleagured owner. There's no doubt in my mind the rumors of Huizenga selling the team would not exist if the Dolphins had won a few games. The tears of joy running down Huizenga's face after the game said it all.
But no game ball should go to Cam Cameron. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Dolphins won. But Cameron deserves absolutely no credit for this victory. The players rose up and won this game on their own--with a little help from the Ravens idiot of a coach Brian Billick. Thanks Brian. I hope you and Cameron are in the same unemployment line soon.
A special thanks should also go to the 1972 Dolphins, who were honored at halftime during the game. As a firm believer in kharma, I'm convinced just the mere presence of our perfect geezers helped raise the team to victory. Maybe Wayne Huizenga should invite the 72 Dolphins back again next week when the Dolphins travel to New England to face the unbeaten Patriots. Maybe the site of a pot-bellied Bob Kuechenberg and Larry Csonka on the sidelines will inspire this team and scare the Patriots. Somehow, I doubt it. In the meantime, enjoy this win Fin fans. You deserve it.