BY GENE NARDI
James Parson, first-year head coach of the Seminole Ridge High School football team, has already made an impact on the Hawks program. He is breathing new life into the organization with his ability to bring out the best in each player and coach, but he will be the first one to tell you a good leader surrounds himself with people better than him.
That was his philosophy when he took over the program in the spring, and he is living by it. He has brought in new faces on staff, such as Damien Berry, a Glades Central and Miami grad who spent three years with the Baltimore Ravens. “He’s been a great addition to the staff,” Parson said.
Sherman Adams is a veteran coach who also joined the Hawks and will manage the offensive line. He brings 13 years of coaching experience to the program. Dan Burack, Darin DeCosta and Jalani Lord return on the coaching staff.
The Hawks have been absent from postseason play for the last two years. However, Parson is committed to changing that. He led the Hawks to their 20-14 spring game win over South Fork High School.
“We showed a lot of improvement,” he said. “We really wanted to improve the team camaraderie and character, and we were successful at that.”
In the beginning of fall practice, the Hawks spent a week of character and integrity education, which Parson developed and implemented.
“We spend an hour every day during the week doing this,” he explained. “We relate it to football wherever we can, but also include their personal life, and it has been really successful.”
The Hawks participated in some seven-on-seven games over the summer to help develop some of their skill position players. “We played against Forest Hill and Palm Beach Lakes high schools,” Parson said. “It was very helpful.”
On offense, Michael Adeyanju and Antoine Williams are battling for the quarterback position. Both are mobile and can throw down field, with the Hawks going to an up-tempo style of play. Jeremiah Brown and Justin Allie will return in the backfield, but the surprise performer this year has been Kristian Gonzalez at running back. “He’s gone to states as a freshman for weightlifting,” Parson noted. “He has super strength and is really quick with good vision.”
Dillon Mohl will be a power-type back for Seminole Ridge to add to the collection of talent in the backfield. The line will be anchored by veteran Dillon Lyons. At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Lyons will be a two-way player on both the offensive and defensive line. Nathan Frank will provide the snaps at center for the Hawks offense. Chris Hart will be returning as tight end. Anthony Angel and Hunter Jones will line up as receivers for the Hawk offense. Both can take the ball and can get into the air.
Defensively for the Hawks, Nick Plesca and Diamond Blair will anchor the core in the middle at linebacker. Both are big at over 220 pounds and will make it difficult for teams to run up the middle.
“Tremayne King has made huge strides as a man and a weightlifter,” Parson said. “He’s going to be our guy on defense getting everybody hyped because he has developed into a leader, and I’m really proud of him.”
Daniel Freire will take charge of the kicking game for the Hawks’ special teams. “He’s going to be something special,” Parson said.
Freire is a sophomore soccer player who spent most of the summer in Brazil working on his technique to bring a solid, consistent kicking game for the Hawks.
“We have the pieces to be successful, but you don’t know until the season rolls around,” Parson said. “Our schedule is not easy.”
The Hawks look to start their climb back up to the top of the hill in what is arguably the toughest Class 8A district in Palm Beach County, occupied by defending district champions Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Palm Beach Central and Jupiter. “It’s going to be a battle,” Parson said.
Seminole Ridge will be on the road for the fall kickoff classic Friday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. against Port St. Lucie.
ABOVE: Hawk quarterback Michael Adeyanju throws a pass down field during passing drills.