While high school football players have been busy this summer working on getting fitter, faster and stronger during their off-season workouts, the upcoming high school football season officially started with practices on Monday, Aug. 2. Since then, area high school football teams have been busy installing new plays on offense, new schemes on defense and fine-tuning the execution of their special teams, while also working on improving their overall fitness and conditioning.
There’s a new head football coach at Wellington High School. It’s Danny Mendoza. He has been pleased by the turnout at practice.
“We have 115 players at practice, and roughly 60 to 70 of them will be on the varsity squad this fall,” said Mendoza, who was the offensive coordinator at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Woodbridge, New Jersey, last year.
According to Mendoza, every player who joins the team at Wellington High School will be given a chance to play. “We don’t cut kids from the football team,” Mendoza said.
For Mendoza and his players, in addition to getting fully prepared for the upcoming season, they are getting to know one another. “I’ve got to earn their respect, and they have to earn mine,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza and his staff of assistants are consumed with building the foundation for another successful chapter in Wolverines football.
“We are as busy with emphasizing fundamentals as we are trying to install a new offense and defense,” Mendoza said.
He is fully committed to making the upcoming football season at WHS as good as it can possibly be.
“After the first day of practice, I came home and I couldn’t wait to get back to practice the next day,” Mendoza said.
Four of the key players this fall for the Wolverines will be quarterback Ryan Anthony, running back/linebacker Josh Miloch, wide receiver Reece Larson and linebacker Ryan Hays.
The Wolverines will open their regular season on Friday, Aug. 27 hosting Pahokee at 6:30 p.m.
At Royal Palm Beach High School, head football coach Darin DeCosta is pleased with the commitment to excellence by his players, but he did not have perfect attendance during the first week of practice.
“Currently, we have 30 practicing players and 20 players missing paperwork,” DeCosta said. “This is one of our major issues. Our practices have been good even though we have missing players.”
A few of the returning players who will form the heart of the Wildcats team this year are safety Philince Bertilus, linebacker/running back De’Juan Tolbert, linebacker Jacob Morales and linebacker Jacob Acosta.
DeCosta sees strong potential with this year’s football team at RPBHS.
“We are very excited to see what this young group can do,” DeCosta said. “We are a young team looking to build for the future. COVID-19 has really taken a toll on us as far as school and distance learning. We are looking forward to being together during school again. Our group is excited and having fun growing together.”
The Wildcats open their regular season on Friday, Aug. 27 hosting Martin County High School at 7 p.m.
The football team at Berean Christian School has 23 players on the varsity roster. Head football coach Mario Jackson likes what he has seen so far in pre-season camp with his young Bulldogs.
“I was pleased with our ability to move around and understand plays offensively and defensively,” Jackson said. “We are really young, so being fundamentally sound, paying attention to details and being disciplined in all phases of the game is critical to our success. This includes being students first.”
What the Bulldogs lack in experience will be replaced by positive energy and enthusiasm.
“The strength of our team will be the defensive secondary, with two returning starters in Michael Hendricks and Dominic Mastrogiacomo,” said Jackson, who is entering his fifth year as head football coach at Berean. “Overall, we have six guys returning with game experience from last season. The guys are excited to be playing for each other. They don’t have the experience to understand what it takes to complete a season, so we preach ‘control your controllable!’ Take care of each play, selflessly. I believe we are in great physical condition. We started our offseason conditioning program with the understanding that everyone will play on both sides of the ball and on every special team.”
Besides Hendricks and Mastrogiacomo, other key players for Berean will be junior offensive/defensive lineman Ritchie Joseph, sophomore tight end/linebacker James Bicht and junior wide receiver/cornerback Tajauni Elliot.
Berean Christian School hosts its regular season opener on Saturday, Aug. 28 against Jupiter Christian School with an 8 p.m. kickoff.