High School Football Preview - Key Returners Make South Dade a Title Contender - South Dade News Leader: Sports

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High School Football Preview - Key Returners Make South Dade a Title Contender

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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 3:05 pm | Updated: 11:43 am, Sat Aug 25, 2018.

With a number of key returners including six already verbally committed to Division I colleges and others on the way, the South Dade Buccaneers are a Class 8A state title contender.

“I’ve always said we were a work in progress, but not that much of a work in progress because we have a lot of guys who came back, which really keeps us in the conversation of having an opportunity to compete for a championship and that’s what you want,” said seventh-year head coach Nate Hudson, who guided the Buccaneers to its first state title in 2013.

Senior linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste said: “The goal is to get a state ring. That’s everybody’s goal.”

South Dade, which is coming off a 9-2 season falling to Columbus in the Regional Semifinals, will begin its season on Friday night against Coral Gables at Tropical Park following a strong month of preseason practices.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Hudson said. “The one thing I like is the tempo has been picked up, the practices habits have been getting a lot better, and the communication has been a lot better than where we started. For the most part, this team has good resilience. We can come out slow, but at the end of the day they know where to pick it up so I’m pretty pleased with where we are and understanding where we can grow.”

One of the Buccaneers’ top returners is Clemson-bound senior wide receiver Frank Ladson, who caught 29 passes for 675 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Ladson is joined on the perimeter by senior Najeh Baker and junior Trevon Sanders while senior Demetrius Randolph, junior Roderick Grissom, and sophomore Justin Smith are rotating in at running back.

“We have many weapons,” Ladson said.

Senior left-handed quarterback Demetrius Burns will look to guide the Buccaneers after transferring from 3A Everglades Prep where he accounted for nearly 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.

“He’s a lot more comfortable, talking more with the offense, and really taking control,” Ladson said. “Everybody is getting used to him.”

Junior Jonathan Denis, a Miami commit, anchors the offensive line at left tackle with fellow junior Jose Mirabal at right tackle.

Senior linebackers Devin Hardy, who had over 100 tackles last season, and Jean-Baptiste are keys while junior defensive back Jaiden Francois, a Miami

commit, is one of the vocal leaders of the defense. Fellow junior and Miami commit Keshawn Washington gives the secondary plenty of versatility.

Senior Alex Vega, junior Terrell Battle, and sophomore Tyler Johnson have been leading the defensive line.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming back so they know what the mentality is with going to the playoffs and getting the job done,” Jean-Baptiste said.

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