MIAMI — It won’t go down as a win, but it might as well have just been one for the Miramar football team.
The Patriots outplayed Booker T. Washington in a two-hour spring scrimmage Saturday, and showed the defending national champions just how competitive they can be under first-year coach Matthew Strout.
“It clearly was a moral victory,” Strout said after the scrimmage. “I think we tied them, or beat them, but any time you go toe-to-toe with the defending national champs you have to take the positives away from it.”
There was no official score given, but numbers weren’t needed. The result was clear. Booker T. Washington, a program that claimed multiple national titles last season after winning the Class 4A state title, struggled early and often against Miramar.
Strout, who took over for the departed Damon Cogdell in January, inherited a wealth of talent from a team that went 12-1 last season, but it wasn’t clear how the team would fare in his first game situation as the Patriots’ head coach.
Miramar was one of over 40 teams participating in a spring jamboree put on by college referees at Tamiami Park in Miami, and they happened to draw Booker T. Washington.
With the teams alternating possessions every 10 minutes at the opponent’s 40-yard line, it was the Patriots who were able to make plays.
Bryton Dieujuste recovered a fumble at the goal line, and on the next drive Demari Simpkins found Kahlil Lewis for a 8-yard touchdown pass. Alex Anderson followed the score up with a 1-yard touchdown run, and Miramar was out in front.
The Patriots' defense, which played without injured cornerbacks Tyrek Cole and Jeffrey Hill, showed no signs of youth in the secondary. Herbert Miller filled in on the boundary, and Josmar Diaz provided coverage over the top. The two seniors gave Miramar experience, but it was also the underclassmen who had an impact according to Strout.
“The young kids stepped up,” Strout said. “We have a lot of 2016 kids that are probably better than our 2015 kids right now. They filled in, so it was good to see them against some top competition.”
Simpkins, who is set to replace the graduated Nick Jeanty at quarterback, had a mixed outing in his first true action under center. The rising-junior was effective with his legs and arm, but struggled at times under pressure. Still, he showed signs of a promising future.
“We have a lot of things that we need to work on, and [Simpkins] knows that, but you can’t fault him. We didn’t really open up the offense very much for him today, so we will continue to nurture him until he blossoms in our system,” Strout said.
The Patriots will host an intrasquad scrimmage May 15th at the Asin Sports Complex before traveling to Lake Wales on May 23rd for their spring game.