TKA Football Off To A Strong Start This Fall

TKA’s offense in action against Glades Day School. Photo by Ryan Johnson

At the King’s Academy, football is a big deal. Not surprisingly, this year’s varsity football team is off to another strong start with a new head coach, Ben McEnroe, at the helm.

After four games, the Lions have a solid 3-1 record. The most recent victory, in Belle Glade against Glades Day School, was impacted by weather, but the Lions didn’t seem troubled by the elements. The game started on Friday, Sept. 16, was halted due to lightning, and was not finished until the following afternoon on Saturday, Sept. 17. After all was said and done, the visiting Lions walked away as the victors, 29-6.

McEnroe is proud of how his young team literally weathered the storm — in the sky and on the ground — over the course of two days.

“The Glades Day game was really a testament to the mindset we are trying to develop here,” McEnroe said. “We are learning to expect disruptions in life. Rarely is there a perfect day or a perfect plan. Our mindset is to find the good in all of those moments and to look for opportunities to better prepare.”

It was the second game in Belle Glade this season for TKA. The other game in the Glades was on Thursday, Sept. 1, when the Lions visited the Raiders from Glades Central High School. That game was close, but Glades Central won, 14-7.

“Our approach [against Glades Day] was night-and-day different from our trip to Glades Central as far as the way the kids handled adversity with the weather, the travel, the waiting and the field,” McEnroe said. “I just felt that we took a quantum leap forward in our approach and our mindset, and it showed on the field.”

On Friday, Sept. 23, the Lions will travel south to play North Broward Prep.

“The focal point for our preparation for North Broward Prep is to remain focused on ourselves and our growth,” said McEnroe, who noted that his team is very young. “We are playing with anywhere between five to seven sophomores on the field at the same time right now, so there is a lot of room for growth.”

That rate of growth for TKA’s varsity football team will come from productive practice sessions.

“I am excited to get to practice every day because when you’re that young and that inexperienced, you see a lot of improvement,” McEnroe said. “One benefit of such a young team is that they’re hungry, and they’re very coachable.” 

Like all football teams, the key to success during the season is dealing with injuries, which are a part of the game. “After play one of our season opener, our pre-season starting lineup has not played together, but we are starting to get some guys back, which will help,” McEnroe said.

As the head coach, McEnroe is making sure his team is physically and mentally ready to play football every day.

“Our focus is just to be better at everything that we do and not worry about who we’re playing,” McEnroe said. “Those guys have a good team and are playing with confidence. Our job is to show up and be better than we were the last weekend.”

Even though McEnroe is the team’s new coach, he feels as if he understands the mindset of his players and their approach to the game of football.

“We’re not perfect, we are really young, and we make teenage-boy mistakes,” McEnroe said. “But that is part of growing up and developing into men. We have a great staff that cares about these guys more as young men than as players, and with our experience, the football will take care of itself. I feel like we’re adjusting just fine and developing an identity here. You can see it on film. We’ve heard it from opposing coaches and fans. Our guys are tough, and they love playing together. Probably the greatest compliments that I’ve received came from groups of fans at both Glades Central and Glades Day about the toughness our kids are playing with. Given the history of those two programs, and the players who have come through there, that means a lot.”

While the Lions have outscored their opponents in three out of the first four games, the key to the team’s success has been the play of the defense, McEnroe said. The key defensive players for TKA have been junior safety Nick Cueto, sophomore linebacker Cory McEnroe, senior defensive lineman Miguel Martinez and junior defensive lineman Dartayvious Saintelus.