Mark Guandolo is old school. He remembers when football teams used the summer
to lift weights, watch some film and gain an advantage on the competition by being
in better shape. Times have certainly changed.
In the past, Guandolo would never take his team on the road for a 7-on-7 event that
he could host in his own school. But the Cypress Bay Lightning have bigger plans
for the end of the 2012 season. They want to be playing for an 8A state title, so it's
additional sacrifices that have to be made.
Joining 36 other schools from across the state of Florida, and into Georgia, Cypress
Bay, along with Western, headed to New Smyrna Beach for the second annual
$10,000 Battle of the Beach tournament, and in the end, finished in the top 6.
The concept of the tournament is to allow teams to raise money for their respective
athletic program, and the Red and Black Booster Club of New Smyrna Beach
found a way to attract top schools – giving them an added incentive.
"There is no hiding from the fact that if you don't take part in these kinds of
events, your team falls behind," Guandolo admitted. "Plus, this gives the kids a
chance to spend some quality time together, which is important."
Thhat's not to say that Guandolo agrees with what needs to be done to stay
competitive, but since coming to Cypress Bay from Chaminade-Madonna, he has
been able to keep the program in the spotlight, missing out on the chance to play
for a state title two years ago, losing to Miami Central by three with a bunch of
sophomores. Now, those sophomores have grown up.
Senior quarter Jaranta Lewis and teammates Alex Montgomery (Wake Forest
commit) and Matthew Dayes (North Carolina State commit) opened things up
in New Smryna Beach against a field that included champion Miami Booker T.
Washington and Tampa Plant. But also attracted a number of quality programs.
"This event gave our team a chance to work against very athletic programs," said
Lewis. "There was a lot of competition, and to finish in the top 6 was a great
Cypress Bay showed the teams they played that this is a very athletic and quick
team that will compete against anyone. Even in a lopsided loss to Booker T.
Washington, there were some great performances.
WESTERN GETS WORK IN
For Rashard West and his Wildcats, it was the second straight week of being in
action as a team.
While junior quarterback Wade Freebeck failed to repeat the performance from the
week before when he was named Offensive MVP in Coral Springs, this is a team
that had the chance to look at several young players, who will be a key in a tough
"When you have teams such as Everglades, Cypress Bay, Miramar, Flanagan and
West Broward in you district, you look for an edge," said West. "That's why it's
important for our program to come up here and continue the learning process."
You can reach Larry Blustein via e-mail at Floridakids1@hotmail.com. Blustein is the co-host of the High School Gridiron Show each Wednesday night from 9-10 on WQAM (560 AM) or www.wqam.com.
You can also follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/larryblustein