Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rumors, gossip and innuendo

Rumor has it (and it may be true by the time we post) that John Maronto will end his coaching career at Mainland High School this week.

The embattled coach has been under fire since being arrested and charged with solicitation two weeks ago. Mainland, which was picked by many to represent the north in 6A, started the season 0-2 and Maronto didn't want to be a distraction to the team.

So many times we fail to allow those who are in the spotlight to live their lives in anonymity and are very quick to make light of those who fall from grace. One has to wonder when it comes 'our time' to stand in that spotlight if we will expect the grace we so often fail to extend to those less fortunate.

I am by no means condoning the behavior of coach, but remind us all that in this country, a man is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that's not the case for most - who have already pre-judged and issued their verdict as well as their punishment.

St. Thomas Aquinas remains our #1 team in the Beef 'O' Brady's Top 25, although Cocoa will do something Friday they haven't done all year - play a Florida opponent. Many have asked how Cocoa cannot be the #1 team in the poll. And yes, I will state it here - there is a bias towards the smaller schools. Many voters believe that - while Cocoa, Bolles, Madison County and Pensacola (just to name a few) are dominant programs, how would they stack up against the upper level of the big classifications. Say what you will about Abilene, the Tigers didn't face Abilene at full strength. I'm not slighting Cocoa in the least, but Herschel Sims is a baller and makes a difference in any game he plays in.

Palatka broke a 16 game losing streak Friday night and gave Kyle Rice his first win at Palatka. ... Middleburg is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since Alan Hall was at quarterback... Don't look now, but Naples is quietly sneaking up on people... and what about coach Rod Schafer and the Lake Wales Highlanders, off to a 3-0 start.

Off topic - as fast as my Atlanta Braves have tanked in the NL East, one has to wonder where the Braves would be in Pierson, FL native Chipper Jones was healthy.

This Friday we'll be staying close to home as the Beef 'O' Brady's Scoreboard show airs from Jacksonville. We'll be live at the Beef 'O' Brady's on Beach Blvd. at Kernan Road after the Sandalwood/First Coast game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ponder(ing) thougths for this week

Last week it was controversy, this week it was lightning.

Lightning canceled, delayed or post-poned at least 100 games last Friday night including our rivalry game between South Lake and East Ridge. Most were made up either Saturday or Monday, but it wreaked havoc on the schedules.

For Florida, playing Texas teams seems to be easy. Florida's Glades Central Miami Central and Cocoa got big wins this weekend on the road to the Lone Star State but Miramar gambled and lost - missing on a two-point conversion that would have won the game against DeSoto.

Plant, the #1 ranked team last week in the Top 25 - looked average against Hillsborough, but keep in mind Plant is still not healthy. All of those Panther-haters will see if the Panthers are legit over the next two-three weeks as they face Abilene and Armwood.

Is there a more road weary team than Cocoa? The Tigers traveled to Daytona Beach, Pennsylvania and Abilene, Texas in successive weeks - and came out 3-0. Yet despite receiving five first place votes in the Beef 'O' Brady's Top 25, the Tigers are still ranked seventh.

Manatee has its hands full this week with rival Southeast at Kiker Field. The Seminoles are 2-0 and ready to spring the upset. Last year Southeast led in the fourth quarter before Manatee pulled away. I'm picking the upset.

Lincoln gave Valdosta all it could handle Friday night, but the Trojans, still dealing with injuries, were unable to conquer the Wildcats. Leon, which also played in Lowndes County against the Vikings, didn't even come close - getting blown out 52-7.

My friend Larry Blustein says 'sleep on Pensacola all you want - they will be a top 5 team'... evidently the pollsters were listening as the Tigers are now #3 in the latest Top 25.

Dwyer decided to accept the punishment handed out to Nick O'Leary for giving the Ohio fans the one-fingered salute after a nationally-televised battle. O'Leary will sit out this week's game with Pahokee after sitting out last week's victory over Palm Beach Gardens. Pahokee, which most considered to be rebuilding this year, is off to a 2-0 start.

Who are your biggest surprises for 2010 so far? Two weeks in and who is disappointing? Remember very few districts have started play yet.

This week we're off to LaBelle for the Cowboys and the Vikings of Bishop Verot.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week 1 - full of controversy

Now that week 1 of high school football is offically behind us - why are we not shocked that the season already is rife with controversy.

This weekend was not a good time for coaches (John Maronto) or teams (Dwyer) or players (Nick O'Leary).

Maronto found himself victim to the old adage of 'never screw up on a slow news day'. The 68 year-old head football coach for Mainland was arrested Saturday night for 'solicitation'. Remember that all parties in this country are innocent until proven guilty - unless you're dealing with the IRS or the other five-letter acronym for the management body of high school sports in the sunshine state.

Dwyer found itself scoring not once, not twice, but three times in the final four minutes of a classic game in Ohio - only to have the referees decide that they needed to go to Pearle Vision and get their lens' checked out. Now I'm not one for bashing officials - and usually will defend them... but this was borderline criminal what these guys did to Dwyer.

Nick O'Leary is a house-hold name. If he wasn't before the game with Glenville (OH) - he is now. The grandson of golf legend Jack Nicklaus is arguably the best tight end in the country. He's also the bullseye for the aftermath of the controversal calls in Columbus (Miami fans - get ready). After the heart-breaking loss, O'Leary was giving the 'one-fingered' salute to the fans and players of Glenville. Maybe he was just telling them that they were #1... then again - maybe not.

Even the event founder - Kirk Herbstreit - was upset by the outcome, telling Joe Rose of WQAM "it made me sick to my stomach".

As if to add insult to injury - the five-letter body in Gainesville handed down its decision... stone him! Ok - so they're not as radical as the Iranian government and they don't have nuclear weapons, but does the punishment fit the crime?

Here's what I think should happen. O'Leary should go to coach Jack Daniels - who has stated he'd rather forfeit two games than play without O'Leary - and say, "Coach, I let my emotions get the best of me. I'd be honored to be in the stands cheering for you against Gardens (Saturday) and Pahokee" That would go a long way with 'restoring' the image of O'Leary - and show true sportsmanship and class.

Ok - back to reality.

From this past week's observations...

- I saw the Countryside Cougars Friday against Boca Ciega and coach Jared Davis has some weapons. So does Bogey.

- St. Thomas Aquinas is reloaded and I think is 'on a mission from God' to quote the Blues Brothers. The Raiders dismantled a very respected Dallas Skyline team. Too bad the Raiders couldn't have faced Euless Trinity instead of Skyline - now THAT would have been a game for the ages.

- Cocoa has very quietly gone 2-0 and still has one more out-of-state opponent left to play - Abeline. The Tigers look to be ready to defend their 2A crown.

- Miami Central played its heart out in a 45-42 loss to Camden Co. (GA).

- I'm taking a lot of flack for voting Plant #1 on my ballot. I usually stick with the team as my #1 until they lose. Plant had that honor prior to the non-counting kickoff classic against Manatee (which Manatee won last year - but that didn't matter either). I don't drop teams after a kickoff classic game no matter how bad they play.

- Eric Beverly may be able to make it back in time for the latter third of the season for the First Coast (Jacksonville) Buccaneers.

- Dwyer's record is really 1-0 ...

Our deepest condolences go out to the Wekiva family after the sudden death of one of their players.

This Friday we're at the Beef's in Clermont spotlighting the South Lake County war... East Ridge vs. South Lake. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they close Groveland (South Lake) and Clermont (East Ridge) High Schools and now - here they are - back again...

Here's the first week of the Beef 'O' Brady's Top 25

1 Tampa Plant(4) 5A 1-0 261
2 Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer(4) 4A 0-1 259
3 Pensacola 3A 1-0 258
4 Seffner Armwood 4A 1-0 249
5 Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas(1) 5A 1-0 246
6 Miami Central(1) 6A 0-1 232
7 Bradenton Manatee(1) 5A 1-0 227
8 Tampa Jefferson 3A 1-0 224
9 Miami Northwestern 6A 1-0 223
10 Orlando Dr. Phillips 6A 1-0 220
11 Cocoa 2A 2-0 197
12 Belle Glade Glades Central 2A 1-0 194
13 Lakeland 5A 1-0 167
14 Miami Washington 3A 1-0 135
15 Deland 6A 1-0 130
16 Apopka 6A 1-0 116
17 Miramar 6A 1-0 90
18 Jacksonville Bolles 2B 1-0 81
19 St. Augustine 3A 1-0 75
20 Tampa Robinson 2A 1-0 70
21 Pompano Beach Ely 5A 1-0 43
22 Hollywood Chaminade Prep 2B 0-1 34
23 Lakeland Kathleen 4A 0-1 21
25T Tallahassee Lincoln 4A 0-1 18
25T Jacksonville First Coast 5A 1-0 18

Others receiving votes:
North Marion (Citra) - 3A, 0-1, 17; Jax. Trinity Christian - 1A, 1-0, 13; Mainland - 6A, 0-1, 12; Charlotte (Punta Gorda) - 4A, 1-0, 11; South Fort Myers - 3A, 1-0, 11; Boyd Anderson(Lauderdale Lakes) 5A, 1-0, 10; Countryside (Clearwater) - 5A, 1-0, 9; Niceville - 4A, 1-0, 9; Lake Wales - 3A, 1-0, 4; Olympia (Orlando) - 6A, 1-0, 3; Palm Bay (Melbourne) - 4A, 1-0, 2; Belen Jesuit (Miami) - 2B, 1-0, 2; Immokalee - 2A, 1-0, 1; Madison Co. (Madison) - 2A,1-0, 1; Miami Jackson - 3A, 1-0, 1