Fans have two opportunities in the next week to see the South Dade Buccaneers in action.
South Dade is inviting the community out to attend its eighth annual Black and Blue intrasquad game at the school on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and will play its spring game at Coral Gables on May 23 at 4 p.m.
South Dade, which is coming off a 10-3 season, features a mix of key returners and newcomers expected to make an immediate impact.
Rising senior defensive back Jaiden Francois, a Miami commit who had 12 interceptions last season, headlines the returners. Offensive linemen Jonathan Denis and Jose Mirabal; wide receiver Trevon Sanders; running backs Justin Smith and Melchelzadek Mathews; defensive linemen Terrell Battle, Tyler Johnson, and Carl Dunklin; and defensive backs Keshawn Washington, Jalin Wilson, and Carl Kinchen also return.
South Dade has picked up a number of key transfers including quarterback Kelvin Durham (Killian), linebacker Naquon Fagan (Southridge), running back Sirr Daye (Everglades Prep), wide receiver Tyler Ladaker (Homestead), offensive lineman Kwami’ McNair (Miami Central), and defensive back Harry Henderson (Jackson).
“We want to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of development so we scaled it back a little bit,” head coach Nate Hudson said. “Definitely we wanted to work on our discipline, but development is really the major key.”
The offense will be looking to replace a trio of standouts in Demetrius Burns (2,964 passing yards, 39 TDs), Frank Ladson (51 catches, 912 yards, 10 TDs), and Najeh Baker (51 catches, 9 TDs) who were catalysts in helping the Bucs average 30.2 points a game.
“We understand our strength is the offensive line and we’re pretty much going to build from there as K.D. (Kelvin Durham) gets a better understanding of what the playbook is about,” Hudson said. “Obviously we had a lot of success last year offensively. We want to create a balance and with K.D. being an athlete we can add some things in terms of him running.”
On defense, replacing standout linebackers Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste and Devin Hardy will be a challenge, but Fagan and fellow Southridge transfer Tarod Snead are looking to fill the void.
“We lost two big-time linebackers that’s on their way to college, but I like the additions we have,” Hudson said. “It’s almost like we’re not missing a beat.”
South Dade was knocked out by Columbus 54-28 in the 8A regional finals. It was the third time in four years the Explorers have ended the Bucs’ season.
“The way the season ended left a bad taste in our mouth,” Hudson said. “So we definitely want to go in with a chip on our shoulders.”
South Dade’s district (Region 4, District 16) will have changes in 2019 with Coral Reef and Southwest joining and Homestead dropping to 7A, Southridge to 6A, and Killian to 5A. Palmetto remains in the district.