By Hector Gonzalez
No, that wasn’t the Miami Dolphins playing Friday night.
The guys on the field were Miami Dade County & Broward County All-Star high school football prospects vowing to show scouts, colleges what they could do one more time.
The second annual Dolphins event presented by Under Armor, and anchored by the Greater Miami Athletic Conference along with the Broward County Athletic Association gave the young athletes real-life experience, exposure, and coverage in a big stage.
There were many bright spots on both sides: for Dade, Columbus quarterback Garrett Fortner was named the offense MVP of the game, and on the defensive side it was Southwest High School strong safety Stephen Meighan.
Meighan who had two-interceptions said he was playing the game for his parents, especially for his ailing birth-mother who could not attend because she was receiving chemotherapy.
“I am trying to put a show out here, and earn my way to college, ” Meighan said, ” Bethune-Cookman, Florida Atlantic University, are some of the schools looking at me right now.”
Broward jumped out with the lead after Stranahan quarterback Otis Brown found Flanagan’s Justin Ferguson ( Notre Dame commit) wide-open for an 8-yard touchdown pass, the field-goal was blocked, making it 6-0 early.
Ferguson who finished the night with 101-yards receiving, and two-touchdowns, was wearing an Irish towel-on his rightside hip said he picked Norte Dame because of their academics, and enjoyed playing alongside guys he competed against throughout the year.
“This is just another chance to come out play against other top-high school players, Ferguson said.” ” This was like a bonus game for me because I didn’t get a chance to play in the postseason this year.”
Dade responded on a 44-yard touchdown grab by Johnnie Durante (Dr. Krop & FIU commit) from Fortner to take the lead 7-6 in the first quarter.
Many former, and current Dolphins were spotted on the sidelines from (Hall of Famer) Nat Moore ; Vernon Carney (Dade’s honorary captain); Will Allen (Broward’s captain) ; Brandon Fields; Troy Drayton, and (Hall of Famer) Dwight Stephenson.
Moore who played for the Dolphins from (1974-1986) said he loved the fact that every kid received a video-copy of the game to distribute them out to colleges for an opportunity to increase their chances of receiving a scholarship.
“I think for the kids who were out there playing, it was another chance for them to showcase their talents,” Moore said, ” One of the tough things about being a senior is, unless your going to college or have a scholarship, after your season ends, it’s pretty much over for you football wise.”
Former University of Miami Hurricane standout DeMarcus Van Dyke (Oakland Raiders) was in attendance with his mother Miranda T. Lovett, adding spice to a game filled-with under the radar talent.
Showing what they could do in the third quarter was Dillard’s 6’2, 205 lbs quarterback Ernest Merritt as he connected with Ferguson on a 20-yard strike, and in the fourth quarter, speedster out-of Miami Jackson Willie Quinn who caught a 50-yard touchdown pass, and then did his best impression of — NFL Bengal’s wide receiver Jerome Simpson’s— flip celebration.
Quinn said his runs a 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, and might commit to Southern University, the school his father attended. He plans on taking his first visit next week.
“It feels good to play against other new guys from different schools,” Quinn said, ” I did pretty well getting into the end-zone, and helping my team win.”
Fullback from Columbus Jorge Lorenzo said he hoped his play impressed some of the schools looking at him (Princeton, Cornell, UPenn, FAU, West Virginia) but at the end he wants to head up-the road to Boca Raton and play at FAU to be close to home.
Highly-touted St. Thomas Aquinas running back Dami Ayoola (Illinois commit) also suited up for Broward, and in the stands not participating wearing a University of Miami jacket was Miami Norland’s star Randy ” Duke” Johnson.
“It’s great way to show Dade & Broward talent, and for the guys who don’t get a lot of recognition throughout the season to be seen,” Johnson said of the game.
With 4:01 remaining in contest Broward’s Brown threw the game’s last score, finding his high school teammate Tim Taylor for a 8-yard touchdown.