Last season, the Patriots volleyball team barely had a season. Playing only six games, the players felt underwhelmed, under practiced and unconditioned the entire fall. The rapid spread of the Coronavirus in Broward county essentially killed the possibility of them playing games, as many of the intended teams on their schedule had to cancel their matchups in order to prevent possible spread. However, with the rollout of the vaccines and increased leniency regarding social distancing, the team was able to create a full schedule of games for the 2021-22 season.
When the team started training in the summer, immense differences were experienced immediately by the players and coaches. Senior captain of the squad, Jade Yoona kim, stated, “Last season, everyone was kind of bummed out about the whole situation. I think Corona really negatively affected our enthusiasm and team chemistry, but this year, it’s the opposite. The team is bonding super well, and everyone has a positive attitude since we have more games to look forward to.”
So far the Lady Patriots are 3-5-1, meaning they have a negative record, however, the team is aware of their weakness and is trying to fix them.
“Right now, our main problem is our defense. It’s been bothering us throughout all our games but at least we know what to zero in on in practice,” Kim said.
There have been outstanding performances from many of the squad members including: junior Katie Denning, senior Jade Kim, junior Noelle Chricton, senior Asante Samuel and freshman Tameary Wardlaw. The team aspires to win their respective district championship, and hopefully even reach the regional finals later in the season.
Though the Patriots are the defending champions of the 5A Florida state championship title, the current 2021-22 season has brought about some struggles for them. As of now, the team has a losing streak of 1-3; this bumped their state ranking down from second to eleventh. Though none of the games played so far are actual district games that determine their place in the state championship race, the current record has been the worst in more than five years for the Patriots.
In their first game, the Patriots were defeated by the IMG Ascenders of Bradenton, Florida. Though the Patriots’s starting lineup is stacked with 3 and 4 star athletes like senior Jaeden Kinlock and senior Earle Little, and even a 5 star athlete, Junior Brandon Iniss, the Ascenders’ lineup had multiple 5 star athletes, many who are committed to top division 1 college programs and are projected to be drafted into the NFL. Additionally, the Ascenders have been ranked by Maxpreps as a top 3 team in the nation for more than ten years, making this an extremely difficult game for the Patriots to win; they ended up losing 35-15.
In their second game, the Patriots were offered a shot at redemption against Treasure Coast High School. Treasure Coast, although not to the same extent of IMG, had a competitive team capable of contending for a state championship. At the moment, Treasure Coast has a National ranking of 36 and state ranking of 7, edging out the Patriots’ 47 and 9 respectively. Touchdowns for the Patriots in the game include two from Junior wide receiver Brandon Iniss, and one from senior wide receiver Isiah Nesmith. Though they scored more touchdowns than in the last game, the Patriots still lost to Treasure Coast 29-21, making the Patriot record 0-2 for the first time in more than 5 years.
In the next scheduled game, the Patriots would seize the opportunity to redeem themselves in a game against Chaminade Madonna. With touchdowns from junior running back Mark Fletcher, Junior quarterback Blake Murphy and senior wide receiver Isiah Nesmith, the Patriots were able to pull off a comeback win against the 58th best team in the nation and 11th best team in the state, after trailing in points for the first three quarters. This made the Patriot record 1-2, and proved that the team still holds the capability to win a state championship, however, their next game would bring difficulty.
In their most recent game, the Patriots played St. Thomas Aquinas, the 19th best team in the nation and fourth best team in the state. Having lost to this team in the previous season, the Patriots were determined to avenge themselves in the rival matchup. The touchdowns scored in this game include one from Junior quarterback Blake Murphy and Junior running back Mark Fletcher, but their efforts still weren’t enough to claim victory. Not only did the Patriots lose 24-16, making their record 1-3, but their starting quarterback, Blake Murphy, suffered a serious leg injury that required him to be rushed to the hospital immediately after the play. As of right now, it is unknown as to who will replace him in the starting lineup, casting a shadow on the remainder of the season.
The Patriots will have another game to redeem themselves however, against district rivals Cardinal Gibbons. Cardinal Gibbons is currently ranked 41st in the nation and tenth in the state, so the Patriots will surely have their work cut out for them just like in previous games of the season.
The boys golf team had a relatively successful season last year. Making it to the state championship competition, the squad had individual placements of 1st, 2nd and 11th, putting them in a sudden death playoff for the overall championship. However the Patriots ended up losing and placing second in the competition, so it became their mission to win the state championship after coming extremely close to doing so the year before.
The boys squad started practicing in the summer before school started, and coach Brandt Moser made sure to instill a new mentality into his players considering the manner in which they fell short of the championship in the previous year.
“I have always put trust in my players to do their job, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. That’s why this season, I’m putting emphasis on my players always trying their best no matter the circumstance, and forcing them to fight and motivate each other as a team at all times.”
As for the current season, competitions are running smoothly. They have won a few tournaments in their respective 2A district, with outstanding performances from Luke Clanton, 2 time 2A individual state champion, Souan Patel, a 7th grader on the varsity team, Gabriel Hagerstorm and Sebastian Sarachristian, who both placed in the state championship in the previous season. Their goal for the season remains the same as always, which is to reclaim their FHSAA 2A state championship title.
The previous 2020-2021 season was a successful run for the cheerleading squad. Traveling with the football team to each of their games and supporting them in a state championship, 10-2 season, the team was left with the task of replicating their success. With new incoming freshman cheerleaders, and even a new coaching staff consisting of Ms. Tina Gomez and Ms. Jessica Burns, the squad also had to prioritize team chemistry so that they could easily communicate routines to each other.
The team started training in the summer before school started, working every day on their half time routine just so they could have their stunts ready for preseason, and to facilitate the team’s bonding. Senior team captains Rachel Laureano and Maddison Maitre have a positive outlook on the season already, as despite the football team’s recent losses, they continue to perfect their various routines.
“We’ve actually had a few mishaps so far. In our first two games, the music was out of sync with our movements, which confused a lot of us mid routine. However, whenever I’m down, I just remember how coach always told us how we should have the same positive approach to every stunt no matter what and just constantly do our best. It’s like a quick motivational boost, ” Laureano said.
The cheerleading squad now anticipates the remaining football games of the season, looking to perfect their routines and improve their performances gradually.
For the Patriot cross country team, the 2020-21 season proved to be a difficult bridge to cross. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the team wasn’t able to train as often as hoped, which negatively affected their running times as many racers were producing times way above their personal bests of the previous season.
Junior Connor Glass said, “last season didn’t feel like we were competing seriously at all. My freshman year felt really competitive and exciting, but COVID really took all of that away in my sophomore season.”
Due to these unfortunate events, the squad was committed to making their presence felt in the south Florida cross country scene unlike in the previous season. The team started training together as early as July in the beginning of the summer, making it their mission to achieve at least a regional championship spot in the upcoming season, with a few outstanding individuals in the team personally shooting for a state championship spot.
With the team mid season now, the team has been relatively successful. Top Individual placements this year include a first place finish from Ashley Fitzgerald and a 2nd place finish from Sienna Alvarez in the opening meet. Additionally on the boys side, Connor Glass exhibited a strong performance as well, finishing 9th place in his opening race. So far, a total of 4 racers have hit personal bests, this list including Sienna Alvarez, Ricky Kristen, Jack Finneran and Jackson Lauri. A special congratulations goes to Ashley Fitzgerald, as she was nominated by milesplit, the primary national track and field news source, as one of the top girl runners in the state in the opening week; only 7 girls were nominated for this accolade.
The team aims for a regional championship qualification for all athletes, with a select few them personally aiming for state qualifications and medals.