Post Top 25 countdown: No. 4 Seminole Ridge
Thursday, August 23, 2012
by Matt Porter
On the sprawling practice fields behind Seminole Ridge High, more than 80 players divide into positional groups and run a finely orchestrated practice.
The linemen block each other with aggression. The linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks cut patterns in the field. While his assistants lead the other groups, head coach Matt Dickmann handles the offense, whipping through the many calls in his playbook.
Dickmann shouts a long phrase. The players line up and snap to order. The play runs once, then again. Then he calls another play, signaling he is satisfied.
That commitment to rule and order has helped bring Seminole Ridge from brand-new school in 2005 to regional heavyweight in 2012. Dickmann's team reached the Class 8A regional semifinals last year, falling to Palm Beach Gardens in a thriller. This year, expect another district title and more.
"It takes a lot of time and effort. That's one of the reasons we've been so fortunate," Dickmann said. "I've surrounded myself with people that burn the midnight oil."
The Hawks have a dedicated coaching staff and one thing many high school teams wish they had: a potentially dominant defense.
Defensive tackle Kyle Shortridge, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior, has more than 30 Division I offers, with programs like Nebraska and Texas A&M vying for his commitment. Senior cornerback Omar Pierre-Louis (6-0, 180) committed to Bowling Green along with senior defensive end Jason Shepherd (6-1, 245).
At safety, the Hawks will be hurt by the loss of senior Mike Almonte to a broken finger. He'll be out six to eight weeks, so several Hawks will have to fill in.
Offensively, senior running backs Elie Turene (5-9, 185) and Silas Speaman (5-9, 185) and junior E.J. Elien (5-11, 200) will be on the field constantly. Whoever's hot will get the ball, but the others will clear the way in the Hawks' clock-killing offense, which makes liberal use of Wing-T and misdirection plays.
"They're all good-size running backs," Dickmann said. "In this system, that's what you want."
Junior quarterback Zach DeCosta was expected to back up senior Antwan Washington but will be the starter after Washington's transfer to Glades Central. Speedy, sure-handed junior Pernall Rattray (5-9, 165) has been a surprise in fall practices. The Hawks have solid linemen like senior left guard Antonio Woods (6-4, 265) and senior left tackle Roman Fernandez (6-0, 285).
But it's that defense that has opposing coaches talking.
"Their defense is ridiculous," Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said. "... They were already solid, but they improved tremendously."