Junior quarterback has Miramar soaring into the playoffs

Pay close attention to this week’s regular-season ending game between 5A state-rated St. Thomas Aquinas and 6A Miramar. At the beginning of the season, this was going to be a game that nobody paid much attention to. On Friday, the entire state will be watching.

As we all know by now, the Raiders are a powerhouse that figures to be in a position like they’re in every season. On top and headed to the playoffs as one of the teams to beat. But this is all new to the Patriots, who have had their share of success through the years, but nowhere in the spotlight like they have been this season.

While the brawl with rival Flanagan was unfortunate, things happened, and the Patriots have paid the price for getting involved in something that should have never taken place. The brawl probably cost this team a district title.

With the negatives out of the way, head coach Damon Cogdell and his staff have concentrated on the positives, and the positives this season have fallen on the young shoulders of junior quarterback Eugene Smith.

What this talented 6-2, 190-pound quarterback has done in two short seasons as the starting quarterback, is help the Patriots improve and put himself into a spotlight that has shined nationally. Miramar, which has not been a player in the race for a 6A state title, has found itself right in the middle as the playoffs are set to begin.

Chosen by as the No. 1 junior quarterback in the state for the Class of 2009, before many had ever watched him play, Smith has been one of Florida’s most dynamic players, leading the Patriots into the state playoffs and a first round date with unbeaten North Miami Beach.

Smith, who played youth football in Miami-Dade County, has been head-turning in every game he played this season. In a two game stretch against Ely and Taravella, he accounted for nearly 600 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers have given this team plenty of recognition as they head into this week’s game against the Raiders.

While Smith is one of the main attractions, and college coaches have been watching his every move, there are other players on this Miramar team who have contributed and will be equally as tough to stop as the junior standout.

On offense, Orwin Etkins and Cle-Artiss Davis have run the ball very well, but Smith has also thrown to players such as Stedman Bailey, Terrance Gourdine, Ivan McCartney and Donte Chambers.

The Patriots’ defense has also been overlooked as the Patriots limited four of its opponents to just one TD. Linebacker Cory Tate has been one of the top players.

Well, the stage is set for this Friday against the Raiders, and while many are still giving the Patriots no chance to pull off an upset, many who have played against and watched both schools wouldn’t think that a Miramar win over St. Thomas would be an upset at all. Not with one of the best underclass quarterbacks this area has ever seen!


*CYPRESS BAY WINS THE DISTRICT:  Mike Decaro ran for a career-high 213 yards and three touchdowns to help Cypress Bay win its first district title, as the Lighting routed Everglades 42-13. True to form the Lightning (8-1, 3-0) came out running, with Jason Douglas led the way by scoring on a run from 3 yards out in the first quarter.

* RECORD FOR WALSH: Cardinal Gibbons kicker Blair Walsh is on his way to the University of Georgia next year, but when he does head to Athens, he will take with him two 59-yard field goals and a school record 12 field goals in a season. He accomplished that in a district win over Archbishop McCarthy.

* THAT’S MY ALMA MATER: While Bob Wood is firmly trying to build Fort Lauderdale into a power, his emotions probably got the best of him when his Flying Ls went to Hallandale to play for a playoff spot. Hallandale won the game behind the running of Courtney Clark, Jr., and made the playoffs for the first time in five years. The last time the Chargers advanced to the playoffs, Wood was the head coach of his alma mater.

*NEW COACH, SAME RESULTS: For years, Hollywood Hills has been advancing to the state playoffs with head coach Al Lang at the helm. This year, with Scott Barnwell running the show, the Spartans advanced to the playoffs once again. Senior Amos Wood caught a pair of touchdowns in a 29-13 win over a Cooper City team that was looking to make the playoffs for the first time in six years.

*ANOTHER DISTRICT TITLE: Chris Anderson ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns as the Boyd Anderson Cobras wrapped up the District 10-6A title with a 41-18 win over Piper. Junior quarterback Kenny Graham hit Chris Bynes for a 20-yard touchdown pass.

You can reach Larry Blustein via E-Mail at, on radio each Thursday night on WQAM (560 AM) from 9-10 and on the internet on

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