High School Hysteria Blog
How good is Park Vista's Tre Mason?
Mason’s collegiate coach has an idea.
“In my opinion, the best running back in college football,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told Mike and Mike today.
Easy for Malzahn to say following Mason’s record breaking performance in the SEC Championship Saturday. The Tigers sophomore carved up Missouri’s defense for an unheard of 304 yards on 46 carries, and four trips to the house. All SEC title game benchmarks, by the way.
But a quick peak at Mason’s single season numbers demonstrate he is the furthest thing from a Johnny-come-lately. Mason has rushed for 1621 yards, and 22 touchdowns.
Mason’s high school coach, Brian Dodds, is campaigning pretty hard for a trip to New York for that little award called the Heisman Trophy.
“He’s broken every record at Auburn, practically, in rushing,” Dodds said. “He has to be invited. It would be a shame if he wouldn’t be. Whether or not he wins it, he needs to be a part of that ceremony.”
Mason may be soaking in the feeling of getting a spot in next month’s BCS Championship Game, but the thought of Heisman weekend has crossed his mind.
“It’s [winning the Heisman] just a personal goal of mine,” Mason said. “Everyone has goals of their own. It was always a dream, growing up, wanting to win the Heisman.”
Mason and the Tigers now prepare for Florida State, in a matchup that features an unheard of 23 players from the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast. They are:
Auburn FB Gage Batten -- Dwyer
Auburn WR Marcus Davis -- American Heritage
Auburn RB Tre Mason -- Park Vista
Auburn OL Patrick Miller -- Dwyer
Auburn K Cody Parkey -- Jupiter
Auburn OL Avery Young -- Palm Beach Gardens
FSU LB Ryan Alicea -- Wellington
FSU LB Paul Aloise -- Martin County
FSU WR Kelvin Benjamin -- Glades Central
FSU DL Brad Bentz -- Wellington
FSU DB Lamarcus Brutus -- Treasure Coast
FSU DT Keith Bryant -- Atlantic
FSU DS Phillip Doumar -- Jupiter
FSU WR Christian Griffith -- King’s Academy
FSU DT Larry Levy -- Park Vista
FSU FB Brandyn Musgrave -- Treasure Coast
FSU TE Giorgio Newberry -- Ft. Pierce Central
FSU TE Nick O’Leary -- Dwyer
FSU WR Dan O’Neil -- Jupiter
FSU FB Jake Romano -- Wellington
FSU OL Garrett Scott -- Suncoast
FSU DB Keelin Smith -- Treasure Coast
FSU OL Bryan Stork -- Vero Beach
Two area high school football teams entered Friday with dreams of capturing a football state championship. Now, only one remains. One of the area's top high school football players is close to making his collegiate decision. Or is he? Plus, an area alum went absolutely berserk in the SEC Championship Game. I break all that down in this week's Duse Report.
-After suffering two State Semifinal road losses in the past three seasons, Dwyer finally broke through with a last-second win in the State Semis. After coughing up a 14-point fourth quarter lead, the Panthers knocked off East Lake 31-24 in overtime to book its ticket to the 7A State Championship.
Despite the outlook being in serious jeopardy late, Dwyer, who suffered heartbreaking road losses in the same round to Seffner-Armwood (2010) and Bradenton-Manatee (2011), wouldn't let history repeat itself again. In the extra session, Daniel Parr scored the game-winning touchdown, while senior defensive back Shawun Lurry made the game-clinching interception minutes later.
Now, the Panthers turn their attention to Niceville, the same school Dwyer beat back in 2009 for its first football state championship. In that match-up, the Panthers emerged victorious with a 42-14 victory.
-Speaking of Dwyer, standout receiver Johnnie Dixon will be waiting just a little bit longer to make his collegiate decision. Dixon was set to make his announcement on Sunday night, but decided to postpone it until after the season. His top three at the moment are Miami, Alabama and Ohio State.
The Hurricanes have been making a big push down the stretch for Dixon. Head coach Al Golden head an in-home visit with Dixon last Sunday night and the UM had him on campus this weekend for a visit.
The team to keep an eye on though is Ohio State. With the Buckeyes playing in the Big 10 Championship Game this weekend, head coach Urban Meyer wasn't able to make it down last week to make one final recruiting pitch for Dixon. With his announcement delayed however, Meyer will likely be down to have an in-home visit before Dxion makes his final decision.
-Palm Beach Gardens dream postseason run officially came to an end Friday night. After reeling off three straight playoff wins, the Gators ran into a buzz saw down in Homestead as they fell 37-10 to South Dade in the 8A State Semifinals.
Despite the loss, you can't take anything away from what the Gators accomplished this season. Considering all the injuries the team suffered this season, no one outside of Palm Beach Gardens expected the team to make it as they did. Sure, the abruptness of having your season end so close to the State Championship will no doubt sting for the players, but at the end of the day, making it to the Final Four in the largest classification in the state is a remarkable accomplishment.
For next year, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic. While they'll have to big holes to fill with quarterback J.P. Caruso, wide receiver A.J. Shipman and tight end Caleb Perez, Gardens returns 41 of the 54 players that suited up on Friday night. With talented juniors like linebacker Tevon Coney and running back Tommy Monday leading the charge, they'll be right back in the playoff mix a year from now.
-Coming out of high school, the state's big three of Florida, Miami and Florida State all passed on Park Vista running back Tre Mason, thinking he wasn't big enough to compete at such a high level. I imagine they're all regretting that decision now.
On Saturday, the Auburn back capped off his stellar junior season with a bang as he rushed for 304 and four touchdowns on 46 carries in the Tigers' SEC Championship Game win against Missouri. His totals in carries, yards and touchdowns were all SEC Title Game records.
Mason's herculean performance wasn't a flash in the pan either. The junior has topped the 100-yard rushing mark in eight games this season and has rushed for a total of 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns.
While his name hasn't been thrown around in the Heisman Trophy mix much prior to Saturday, he absolutely deserves an invite to New York City this weekend for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Recently, the Perfect Game Super25 tournament rolled into Delray Beach's Miller Park. As a result, several youth baseball stars (ages 10-17) won "Batting Championships," as recognized by the group.
Name: Alejandro Borjas
Team: Vipers Baseball Club
Hometown: Jupiter, FL
School: Oxbridge Academy
-Alejandro hit a three-run, two-out double in the the sixth inning in the semifinals to give his team a 3-0 lead, eventually leading to a semifinal victory. Alejandro went three for three in the championship game with an RBI to help achieve a 3-1 championship victory for the Vipers.
Name: Ryan Wimbush
Team: Palm Beach Rebels 14U
Position: RHP/Out Field
Hometown: Royal Palm Beach
School: Royal Palm Beach High
From manager Jack Armstrong: “Ryan and his Dad Melvin, have been working extremely hard at all aspects of his game. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he had such a fantastic tournament at perfect game. It’s also an added benefit that he has such excellent speed when he gets on the base paths. Having someone consistently get themselves on base through an entire tournament gives you a chance to win every game.”
Name: Domenico Galluzzo
Team: Jupiter Hammerheads
Position: 3rd , SS, Pitcher, Catcher, Outfield
Hometown: Jupiter, Florida
School: Jupiter Christian School
From his Hammerheads coach: “Domenico demonstrated leadership on offense and defense, which was an intricate part of the team’s success.”
Name: Dominic Pitelli
Height: 5 ft
Weight: 95 lbs
Team: Miami Prospects
Position: 2nd base
School: Doral Academy
From Pitelli’s coach: “Dominic started out the tournament with a lead off fouble and there was no stopping him for the rest of the tournament. He went 3 for 4 that game as the Prospects won 15 to 1.”
Name: Joseph Tomonto
Team: Boca Hitmen
Hometown: Boca Raton
From Tomonto’s Hitmen coach: “Joseph hit two triples and drove in five RBIs to propel the Hitmen to a 11-8 victory over FS Elite and continued his hot hitting adding another triple for a combined seven for eight hitting over the semi finals and championship game.”
Name: Adrian Ojea
Height: 4’ 9”
Team: Boynton Beach Rockets
Position: LHP, 1st Base, OF
Hometown: Lake Worth, FL
School:Tradewinds Middle School
From Ojea’s coach: “Adrian batted over 500 in the super 25 tournament and had great outings on the mound. Adrian is really maturing as a player and is one who has come through for the Rockets many times this season.”
HOMESTEAD -- The first seven minutes of the game went as well as Palm Beach Gardens could hope for.
The final seven minutes of the first half went about as poorly as possible.
After taking an early 7-0 lead against South Dade, the Gators surrendered 24 unanswered points in the final seven minutes of the second quarter to put the Gators in a hole they couldn't recover from as they fell 37-10 in the 8A State Semifinals.
"I just think we lost to a better team tonight," said Palm Beach Gardens head coach Rob Freeman. "They deserved the victory and they totally outplayed us."
Much like its run in the postseason so far, the Gators got off to a fast start. On its opening possession of the game, Gardens put together a 70-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass from J.P. Caruso to Caleb Perez.
The Buccaneers answered on the ensuing drive however, as senior quarterback Khalil Render danced his way around a host of Gators for a five-yard touchdown run to even the game at 7.
In the second quarter, the Gardens defense responded. With the game still tied at seven, defensive back Anthony Lane picked off Render and returned it to the South Dade 20-yard line, setting up a 40-yard Stephen Olson field goal to give the Gators a 10-7 advantage. That would be the Gators' last score of the game.
From there, the Buccaneers big-play offense took over.
On the next possession for South Dade, wideout Tarviant Williams caught a quick out from Render, dodged a tackle two yards past the line of scrimmage and then sprinted past the Gators secondary for a 56-yard score to give the Bucs their first lead of the game.
After a Caruso interception, Render hit Khevani Francois down the middle for a 34-yard touchdown to extend South Dade's lead.
Gardens' next offensive possession resulted in a punt and the Bucs put the game on ice minutes later. On its second play of the drive, Render scored on a 65-yard run to put South Dade up 28-10 with 1:52 left in the first half. The Bucs added a field goal as time expired in the second quarter to take a 31-10 lead into the locker room.
"[South Dade] just owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," said Freeman. "They put up a lot of yards, a lot of points. We had a tough time moving it and we couldn't run the ball."
In addition to having trouble on the ground, Palm Beach Gardens, who saw its top four offensive linemen go down with season-ending injuries during the year, were unable to prevent the Buccaneers from constantly harassing Caruso. The senior quarterback, who's heading to Appalachian State in January, threw four interceptions in the loss.
"They really rushed the passer hard," Freeman said. "We knew they were going to do that, but they probably did that a little better than we expected."
The loss officially put an end to what had been a somewhat improbable postseason run. After losing four games in the regular season, the Gators won three straight in the playoffs, including a 12-10 upset win over previously unbeaten and nationally ranked Miramar to come within two wins of a State Championship.
Despite the loss, Freeman pointed out after the game that the majority of this team will be returning next season. 41 of the 54 players that suited up in the game are underclassmen.
"We had a great season and we're very proud of what we accomplished and we look forward to next year when we have another opportunity."
Improbable. Impossible. Inconceivable.
All of those words have been used to describe Palm Beach Gardens’playoff run leading up to tonight’s 8A state semifinal showdown with South Dade from Homestead (7:30 p.m. on ESPN 106.3 FM, ESPNWestPalm.com).
It takes a very good team to advance this deep into the postseason, and for some reason, people seem shocked that the Gators have lasted this long.
“I just look at our record,” says Palm Beach Gardens head coach Rob Freeman. “I see four losses on our side. I guess to the average fan just looking at that, that says it all, doesn’t it?”
It’s true. A 6-4 regular season record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, especially after the Gators stumbled out of the blocks. Palm Beach Gardens started the year 1-2, but take a closer look at who the Gators lost. The defeats didn’t exactly come to weak squads.
Gardens lost to Park Vista and Dwyer in the second and third weeks of the season, dropped a one score game at Vero Beach at the end of October, then lost by 7 to Palm Beach Central two weeks later. Through all of this, the Gators were able to win the district crown.
Palm Beach Gardens went on to avenge the losses to Park Vista and Palm Beach Central in the first and second round of the playoffs, while Dwyer plays in tonight’s 7A state semi at East Lake and Vero Beach lost a tight opening round postseason matchup with Manatee.
Freeman says that the tough slate, wrought with bumps and lumps, was all by design.
“We’ve lost to four really good teams, but that was kind of the plan in the first place. We wanted to play a tough schedule because we felt that it would prepare us for the playoffs if we were fortunate enough to get in it. I think that plan worked out to our advantage. It wasn’t fun to take some of those losses but it was good for us.”
Making Gardens’ resurgence and sudden dominance all the more amazing is the fact that each member of its opening night offensive line has suffered an injury this year. In fact, four went down for the season with ACL injuries. Just one lineman remains from the Week 1 win over John I. Leonard.
Do you doubt the Gators now? What a tough group.
"We love being the underdogs,” says senior quarterback J.P. Caruso…convincingly.
The Appalachian State commit, who was hobbled by an ankle injury for most of the season but has rallied to play his best football of the year in the last month, has a chip on his shoulder.
“We don’t want to be picked to win any games. I feel like ever since I’ve been at Gardens, every single game I’ve played against a decent opponent, we’ve been picked to lose. We’ve been upsetting teams ever since I’ve been at Gardens. People can say ‘Oh, you’re going to lose the next game’, but they’ve been saying that for the last four weeks, so it’s nothing new.”
A three year starter, Caruso has never missed the postseason at Palm Beach Gardens. He picked up signature wins in the playoff triumphs over Park Vista (34-31) and Palm Beach Central (45-28). He deferred to his defense last week.
Palm Beach Gardens’ stunning regional final win over Miramar last weekend featured a magnificently physical defensive performance led by junior linebacker Tevon Coney. Gardens shut out the Patriots in the second half, hanging on for a jaw-dropping 12-10 victory.
While the Gators’ D has been up and down this year, they’ve gotten the job done when it’s been needed, on nights when Caruso and Co. haven’t been sharp. They shut out John I. Leonard and Glades Central. The stymied mighty Miramar.
Don’t call Palm Beach Gardens “balanced”. Perhaps “opportunistic” is the right word to use.
Regardless, the Gators aren’t lacking in confidence. The four regular season losses are in the past. They aren’t distant memories, however. They’ve been turned into motivation against those who think that what Palm Beach Gardens is doing is “improbable”.
“I take offense to it, but we all think it’s good if people think that,” explains Coney. “We played some really good teams this year, some really tough teams this year. We still battled out and we’re still in the playoffs.”
They think they’ll still be in the postseason past this weekend as well.
Talk about “impossible”.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.