There was a sense that when Daryl Heidelburg finally had the chance to return to his alma mater, the veteran football coach would find a way to take the tremendous athletes that the Norland High region has long been able to produce and bring the Vikings back to the top.
After making the playoffs a year ago, with a mix of younger and veteran players, Heidelburg made sure that Norland took no time off from the building process. As soon as the Vikings were ousted by Booker T. Washington in the opening round of the playoffs, the work began.
With juniors RB-DB Randy "Duke" Johnson, DL Teko Powell, WR Brandon Snell and Miami Southridge transfer LB Keith Brown, the Vikings had one of the best junior classes around. Johnson and Brown committed early to the University of Miami, and Powell and Snell are being looked at by several schools.
With Johnson, Snell and senior quarterback Benji Philippe (9 of 18 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns) running the show on offense, and the defense holding North Miami to just 121 yards, the Vikings won for the fifth straight time to begin the 2010 season 28-3.
While much of the attention is being paid to south region 3A programs Belen Jesuit, Booker T. Washington, Jackson, Fort Pierce Westwood and Lake Wales, Norland has certainly jumped into the title mix with impressive football players, quality coaches and a head coach who knows the players and community better than anyone.
"This is not a surprise to me," Heidelburg said. "It isn't a secret that this area, around our school, is home to some of the elite players in South Florida. All we had to do is get the kids who belonged here to start coming back and staying."
Norland has long been in the center of the talent universe. No less than five outstanding youth programs feeding athletes into the Miami Gardens school.
The Vikings will certainly continue to showcase their top younger athletes all season. The meeting with Belen Jesuit will be toward the end of the year and will be one that the Vikings can pay the Wolverines back for.
In other Miami-Dade games this week
- CORAL PARK 38, BARBARA GOLEMAN 14: The last time the Coral Park football team had four or more victories in a season, it was back in 1998 and the Rams made the playoffs. With quarterbacks Sterlin Darling and Robert Orban making big plays on offense, Coral Park remained one of a few 6A teams in the state that have not lost. Orban completed 7 of 11 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns to senior Juwan Caesar, who played his first game of the season. Caesar, who caught seven passes for 72 yards, missed the first three games for precautionary reasons after suffering a heatstroke in the preseason. Darling also scored two touchdowns, including a 75-yard run.
- DR. KROP 20, MIAMI SPRINGS 0: All summer, coaches had been talking about a Norland transfer that got away. Sophomore defensive end Paul James continued to prove why is one of the top prospects for the Class of 2013 as he came up with two sacks and the Lightning defense held the Golden Hawks to just 116 total yards (59 rushing, 57 passing). One of the state's top juniors Ricardo Perez kicked field goals of 42 and 44 yards, and senior quarterback Gavin Block threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Darian Peters. Senior running back Brandon Eldemire finished with 11 carries for 83 yards.
- AMERICAN 40, WESTLAND HIALEAH 0: A week after losing a key district opener to North Miami Beach, the Patriots got back on the winning track as senior Rodney Madison (72 yards) had a pair of scoring run. American's defense forced five turnovers all resulting in points. got American off to a solid start with a 14-yard touchdown run against host Westland Hialeah, which lost its third consecutive game, all by shutout. Madison also had a 48-yard touchdown run. Westland Hialeah committed six turnovers and had just one first down in the first half. American put the game away with three touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half and totaled 28 points off Westland Hialeah turnovers.
- HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES 21, MIAMI HIGH 14: Junior quarterback Nick Pergakis, who transferred from Coral Reef this season, scored on a 6-yard run with 17 seconds left to lift the Trojans. Perkagis through a 49-yard touchdown pass to Lazarus Waldon with 4:43 left int he half. Senior running back DeAndre Martin, held in check the week before against Northwestern had 94 yards on the ground. Miami High had outstanding offensive efforts from Bruno Jean and Andre O'Neil.
- BARRINGTON CHRISTIAN 40, HIGHLANDS CHRISTIAN 20: For a program only in its second year, Barrington Christian has made some major strides. Staying unbeaten through four games, they received a solid effort by running back Jamal Sessions, who ran for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Khalil Render had three touchdown passes.
- MONSIGNOR PACE 27, CHAMINADE MADONNA 20: Senior defensive back Jabari Gorman had two interceptions and Athon Samuels finished the night with 187 yards on 19 carries as the Spartans (3-0, 1-0) scored 27 unanswered points. The Spartans had lost to the Lions last year.
- CENTRAL 33, CAROL CITY 6: FIU-bound senior Rakeem Cato completed 16 of 25 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns and FSU-bound senior running back Devonte Freeman (168 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries). The Rockets will take on Northwestern in a key district game next Friday night.
- BELEN JESUIT 45, PLANTATION AMERICAN HERITAGE 29: The defending state 3A runner up Wolverines showcased its offensive line in this impressive win over freshman phenom Sony Michel and the Patriots. Running behind a line that includes center Nick Busse, guards Randy Mompremier and Matthew Moro and tackles Kevin Viera and Keonte Cash, they piled up 352 yards on the ground in moving to 4-1. Michel, who broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run, managed just 26 yards on his 15 other carries. Senior running backs Miguel Maseda and Javi Rodriguez combined for 185 yards on 22 carries and four touchdowns. Another senior, Manny Sicre, rushed 17 times for 127 yards and a score.
- HOMESTEAD 17, EDISON 6: The Broncos have started to hit their stride after an opening night loss to Key West. But it's still the defense that is carrying this team. Shonquavio Tomlin intercepted a pass, setting up a TD run from junior from James Burgess, Jr. to secure the win. Tomlin had another interception earlier in the fourth quarter and a return for 23 yards and Michael Cole hit a 9-yard field goal for Homestead.
- NORTH MIAMI BEACH 46, KILLIAN 14: Don't look now, but it appears that the Chargers (3-2) are back in the playoff hunt after a year away as senior quarterback Richy Desir had 4 touchdown passes, including a 47-yard pass to Trevor Ishmael. Desir finished the game with 157 passing yards, and junior running back Freddy Leroy led the ground attack with 133 yards and a touchdown to help lead a balanced Charger offensive performance.
- CORAL GABLES 35, RONALD REAGAN 0: Senior running back Shaquille Cooper carried the ball nine times for 145 yards and three touchdowns and Lance Williams also pitched in with three carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. Antwon Burney ran for another 60 yards and a touchdown for the 3-2 Cavaliers.
- LASALLE 28, ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 27: One of the best kept secrets in the state of Florda is senior quarterback Rafi Montalvo. All this talented athlete has done so far this season is throw for nearly 1,000 yards. Montalvo once again led the Royals with his arm and legs. With only 22 seconds left in the game the Royals faced fourth-and-goal on the Bulldogs 2-yard line. On a play-action fake, Montalvo spun around and connected with senior wide receiver Robert Cardenas, who was open in the middle of the end zone for the score. LaSalle would decide to go for two points and the win.
- PALMETTO 43, VARELA 15: Senior quarterback Wyatt Chickillo passed for 163 yards with two touchdowns, and rushed for 54. Chickillo's favorite target was Anthony Clark, who caught three passes for 24 yards and two touchdowns for the 3-1 Panthers.