Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rangers Sweep Panthers

     The last game of 2013 was played on Tuesday as the Florida Panthers fell to  the New York Rangers 2-1 in a shootout at BB&T Center. The Cats, are 1-2-1 on their current five-game homestand and host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. The Blueshirts swept the three-game season series and have won four of their last five games.
     Neither team scored until the second period. Florida(15-20-6) capitalized on a turnover by Dan Girardi behind his own cage. Aleksander Barkov intercepted a pass and put it in front to Brad Boyes. He faked a forehand shot and shoved a backhand shot between the legs of Henrik Lundqvist for a Panthers 1-0 lead. It was the tenth goal this season for Boyes and Barkov extended his point streak to four games. Florida entered this game with a 7-0-0 record when they had the lead after two periods.
     New York(20-19-2)waited until almost 58 minutes into the game to get their first goal. The Rangers had the Panthers bottled in their own end when Derek Stepan send the puck from behind the Cats net to Girardi at the top left circle. He fired a high wrist shot by Tim Thomas to tie the game with 2:10 left in the third period.
     There was no scoring in overtime as the contest went to a shootout. Both teams missed their first two attempts as Mats Zuccarello and Stepan missed for New York along with Barkov and Huberdeau for Florida. Brad Richards scored on the Rangers third attempt to give them the victory.     
     Thomas, who played in his 400th NHL game, made 29 saves and dropped his record to 9-10-2. Lundqvist raised his mark to 12-15-2 as he stopped 21 shots. Neither team scored on the power play as the Cats were 0-for-4 while the Blueshirts were 0-for-3.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Heat Crack Nuggets

     LeBron James returned to the lineup after missing one game as the Miami Heat got by the Denver Nuggets 97-94 at Pepsi Center on Monday night. The Heat finished a four-game road trip and have won 21 of their last 22 games against Western Conference opponents.
     Miami(24-7) began the first quarter as they put in the first eight points on their way to a 12-4 edge. Denver(14-16) was able to get a 26-17 spurt to barely get ahead 30-29 after one quarter. The Heat saw the momentum change during the second quarter as the Nuggets equaled their largest lead of the game of nine points 55-46 at halftime.
     The Heat scored the first 13 points of the second half to take the lead. Their were numerous lead changes during the third quarter as Denver was up 77-72 after three quarters. Michael Beasley hit a three-point shot from the top of the arc with 30 seconds left to give Miami a 96-92 lead.
     James crunched in a double-double as he had 26 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Dwyane Wade left the game after he played just 18 minutes and dropped in 12 points. Chris Bosh added 17 points and Mario Chalmers compiled 10 points with nine assists. Ray Allen hit nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
     Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with a team-high 26 points and seven assists in 40 minutes. J.J. Hickson put together a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Darrell Arthur came off the bench to deliver 13 points.

Panthers Stop Habs

     The Florida Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak as they beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday at BB&T Center. The Cats are halfway through their home schedule this season and have a record of 8-9-3 in Sunrise.
     The Panthers got the only goal in the first period to take the lead on a 4-on-4 situation. Tomas Fleischmann passed the puck from the slot area and Dmitry Kulikov put in a one-time wrist shot from the left circle for second goal this season at 6:10.
     Montreal(23-14-3) responded early in the second period to even the game at 2:56. Raphael Diaz took a soft shot from the right point that was stopped by Brendan Prust in the slot area. He made turnaround shot that went between the legs of Scott Clemmensen to tie it at 1-1.
     Florida(15-20-5) countered with a goal at 4:51 and regained the margin 2-1. Brian Campbell fired a slapshot from the high slot that went off Peter Budaj up in the air and landed off the right post into the cage.
     Campbell added his second goal of the game and sixth of the season with 5:31 left in the second. Tom Gilbert and Brad Boyes had assists on both Cats goals during the second period.
     Sean Bergenheim would score an empty-net goal with 17 seconds to go in the third period to give Florida the victory over the Habs. He kept a three-game goal streak alive with his eighth goal this year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Red Wings Fly By Panthers

     The Florida Panthers returned from the Christmas break with a 4-3 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings at BB&T Center on Saturday night. The Panthers had beaten Detroit in their two previous encounters in early December. The Cats, who lost their third straight game, play at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.
     The Red Wings were able to score on their first power play at 3:47 of the first period. Niklas Kronwall had the puck on the right point and passed it to Daniel Alfredsson at the top left circle as he smashed a slapshot by Scott Clemmensen for a Detroit(18-13-9) 1-0 lead.
     They scored on their second power play opportunity to extend their margin to 2-0 at 14:29. Pavel Datysuk kept the puck in on the left point and sent a cross-ice pass to the right circle. Henrik Zetterberg, who played in his first game since December 1, snapped a shot that ringed around the inner half of the Panthers cage for his 12th goal this year.
     In the second period, Florida(14-20-5) converted on their third power-play attempt with 7:08 left. Brian Campbell carried the puck into the Red Wings zone and headed to the left circle. He flipped a pass ahead to Sean Bergenheim in the crease area and he shoveled a backhand shot over the right shoulder of Jonas Gustavsson to make it 2-1. It was his second straight game with a goal and his sixth tally this season.
     The Panthers evened the game at 2-2 with 5:01 to go as Nick Bjugstad intercepted a pass from the right point and went on a breakaway. He faked a shot, went wide and put in a forehand shot for his eighth goal.
     The Red Wings regained the lead as they got two goals within the first two minutes of the third period. Kyle Quincey stopped the puck at the top of the zone and passed it to Brendan Smith at the top right circle. He blistered a slapshot over the right shoulder of Clemmensen at 42 seconds for his first goal this year.
     They added another tally at 1:20 when Jacub Kindl fired a slapshot from the right point that was saved and Gustav Nyquist swept in for the rebound on the left of the crease and scored.
     Bergenheim picked up his second goal of the contest at 4:23 to close the gap 4-3. Dylan Olsen took a shot from the left corner that bounced out to the high slot where Bergenheim released a wrist shot into the cage.
     Gustavsson improved to 11-3-2 this year as he made 30 saves for the Wings. Clemmensen stopped 27 shots as he took the loss and dropped to 4-4-1. There were a whole slew of penalties as Detroit was 2-for-5 with the man advantage while the Cats were 1-for-6.      

Friday, December 27, 2013

Miami Ratings December 2013

     For the fourth straight month, 104.3 The Ticket WAXY-FM was the top sports format radio station in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale region. They extended their margin over Sports Radio 560 WQAM-AM and 940 The Sports Animal WINZ-AM for the fourth consecutive ratings period.
     The ratings remained flat for 104.3 The Ticket as they stayed at a 1.2 in December without a program director. Regardless of the departure of morning co-host Marc Hochman midway through the period, their station maintained their audience. The Dan Le Batard Show shift to a national platform on ESPN Radio and the good start by the Miami Heat has helped matters.
     WQAM slightly dropped from a 0.8 to a 0.7 in December. This was due to the release of midday host John Renshaw midway through the ratings period after seven months in that position. The announcement that on-air personnel would be shifted and changed again in early 2014 after their new lineup was set up back in early September has confused their audience. The end of the Miami Hurricanes football regular season was another reason.
     There was no change at 940 The Sports Animal as they stayed the same at a 0.4 for the month of December. The station did not fall back with the elimination of their mid-afternoon show with Phil Domanic and Troy Stradford in November as they piped in Fox Sports Radio in December. The station will add former 640 Sports WMEN-AM midday host Andy Slater in early January for that time slot.    

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Heat Beat Lakers

     The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers played on Wednesday as the Heat won 101-95 at Staples Center. The Heat, who extended their winning streak to six games and are 8-2 on Christmas Day, have won 19 straight games against Western Conference opponents. The Lakers are now 0-5 against Miami on Christmas Day.
     Los Angeles(13-16) put in their first four shots as they took a 12-7 lead three minutes in. The Lakers scored 11 straight points late in the period and were up 27-21 after one quarter. Miami(22-6) dropped in 12 consecutive points during the second quarter and led 48-39 with 2:36 left. They went into halftime with a 51-46 margin.
     The Heat led throughout the third quarter as the Lakers were behind 76-74 entering the fourth. The game was tied 83-83 with 8:25 to go until Miami went on a 9-0 run. The Lakers would cut the gap down to four points 96-92 with 1:25, but they came no closer.
     Chris Bosh had 23 points and 11 rebounds to complete a double-double for the Heat. Dwyane Wade contributed 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists while LeBron James, who improved to 7-1 on Christmas games, added 19 points along with eight rebounds. Ray Allen knocked down 12 points and Mario Chalmers got seven.
     Nick Young came off the bench to score a team-high 20 points and Jodie Meeks dropped down 17 points. Pau Gasol nailed a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Booker T. Washington National Champions

     The Booker T. Washington Tornadoes have been declared the 2013 high school football national champions. They appeared as the top team in the national poll by six of seven recognized organizations. The Tornadoes were first in USA Today, Max Preps, Scout, National High School Football, Prep Nation and Student Sports. They were third in the High School Football America poll.
     Booker T. Washington were undefeated with a 14-0 record and won the 2013 FHSAA Class 4A championship for their second straight title. The top highlight of their season was their victory over the Miami Central Rockets, who were ranked first in several national surveys at the time, during the second week of the regular season.
     The Tornadoes join other South Florida high schools who have won a national championship in recent years. St. Thomas Aquinas captured it in 2008 and 2010 while Northwestern took it in 2007.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jon Linder Returns

     Jon Linder returned to the local airwaves this week as a fill-in host at 640 Sports WMEN-AM. He had not been heard in South Florida since earlier this year on Sports Radio 560 WQAM-AM.
    Linder had a long stint in the 2000's as an afternoon host and later a Sunday morning host at 770 WWCN-AM in Fort Myers. He joined WQAM in 2007 and worked as a sports reporter/fill-in host for them. Linder became a late night football host from August until late December 2011. He was elevated to the University of Miami Hurricanes football studio host position from 2010 until 2012.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lightning Smash Panthers

     The Tampa Bay Lightning rolled over the Florida Panthers 6-1 on Monday night at BB&T Center. The Panthers, who began a five-game homestand tonight, have lost two straight following a five-game win streak. The Lightning captured the first annual Governors Cup as they lead the five-game season series 2-0-1.
     Both teams waited until the late stages of the first period to score. Florida(14-19-5) scored on their second power play with 1:04 left in the period when Aleksander Barkov kicked the puck to his right where Sean Bergenheim slammed home a slapshot from the high slot past Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead.
     The lead lasted just 19 seconds as Tampa Bay(23-11-3) tied the contest with 45 seconds to go. Valtteri Filppula passed the puck from the right wing to the middle and Alex Killorn scooped a backhand shot from the slot by Scott Clemmensen.
     The Bolts, who have won five consecutive games, took their first lead of the game at 3:22 of the second period. Martin St. Louis fed from the left point to Victor Hedman in the high left circle. His snap shot was wide left, bounced off the back boards to Tyler Johnson at the right side of the net and he put the puck in from the blue paint.
     The next goal the Lightning got was on a five-on-three power play as the Panthers received two separate minor penalties at 6:48. Teddy Purcell took a one-time slapshot that went off the leg of Marcel Goc and Filppula steered the loose puck in from the low slot area at 8:01.
     Tampa Bay extended their margin to 4-1 with 7:53 remaining in the second. Ondrej Palat was at the left-circle dot and passed across to St. Louis in the right-circle dot. His one-time slapshot lacked some speed, but it did hit the back of the net for his 16th goal this year.
     In the third period, Nikita Kucherov got a third-chance rebound in the low slot area and sent a bouncy wrist shot that went off the stick of J.T. Brown at 3:40 for a four-goal cushion. Tampa Bay added one more goal 6:24 left as Brown put in a tally in the low slot.
    Clemmensen fell to 4-3-1 as he made 30 saves while Bishop moved his record up to 20-5-2 as he stopped 28 of 29 shots. The Bolts were 1-for-4 on the power play and the Cats were 1-for-3.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Heat Outduel Kings

     The Miami Heat extended their winning streak to four games as they handled the Sacramento Kings 122-103 on Friday night at American Airlines Arena. The Heat scored the most points in the game this season.
     Miami(20-6) was down 36-33 after one quarter, however they took over in the second and led 67-61 at halftime. Sacramento(7-18) pulled to within one point 72-71 with 8:45 to go in the third quarter, but the Heat finished the period on a 26-11 run to get up 98-82 as they entered the final quarter. Miami extended their margin up to 20 points throughout most of the fourth quarter.
     Chris Bosh had a team-high 25 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes for the Heat. LeBron James added 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the victory. Dwyane Wade put together 20 points, five assists and five rebounds while Mario Chalmers compiled 16 points, five assists and four steals.
     All five Kings scored in double digits. Recent acquisition Rudy Gay had 14 points, six assists and six rebounds while Isaiah Thomas and Jason Thompson both had 11 points. DeMarcus Cousins had a team-high 27 points along with eight rebounds and Ben McLemore contributed 20 points.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marc Eisenberg Expands Show

     640 Sports WMEN-AM program director Marc Eisenberg will expand his show one extra hour in early January as his program will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The decision was based on the departure of former midday host Andy Slater who did his final show at that station on December 12. 640 Sports have given on-air tryouts to several former athletes this past week and a decision on the new early afternoon host will be made soon.
     Eisenberg, a Florida Atlantic University grad, joined 640 Sports as a weekend host in May 2012. He became an interim morning co-host with Chris Perkins from June until early August 2012 and then moved to a sports anchor position there and at sister-station 850 WFTL-AM for the next seven months. Eisenberg began to host a Sunday morning show in September 2012 and added program director duties at WMEN in November 2012.
    He sandwiched two stints this year as the late morning host around the short three-month tenure of Dan Sileo. Eisenberg had the shift from May to late July and from early November until the present time. He had previous stints as a producer and sports co-host at Sports Radio 560 WQAM-AM and 790 The Ticket WAXY-AM in Miami.

Panthers Roll Through Senators

     The Florida Panthers continued their four-game road swing in Canada on Thursday night and beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 at Canadian Tire Centre. Florida(14-7-5) extended their winning streak to a season-high five games and have won seven of their last eight.
    The Panthers jumped out to the lead at 5:39 of the first period. Shawn Matthias made a cross-ice pass from the left side to Jimmy Hayes and he put in a wrist shot from the right inner circle by Craig Anderson. It was the fourth goal by Hayes this season.
    Ottawa(14-17-6) tied the game on a questionable goal at 9:17. Clarke MacArthur took a slap shot from the left circle that went off the leg of Chris Neil in the crease area.
    Jason Spezza gave the Sens a 2-1 margin as he avoided a check by Dylan Olsen in the right circle and snapped a shot over the left shoulder of Scott Clemmensen with 29 seconds remaining in the period.
    The Cats evened it at 2-2 with 2:49 left in the second period. Tom Gilbert fired a wrist shot from the top right circle that was redirected by Aleksander Barkov in the low slot. Barkov compiled his sixth goal in his rookie campaign.
    Florida regained the lead at 3-2 with 2:32 to go in the third period as they scored on the power play. Tomas Fleischmann pivoted from the goal line to the right-circle dot and fed Gilbert for a one-timer from the left-circle dot.
    Tomas Kopecky clinched the game with a short-handed goal with 1:41 left as he came in from the neutral zone on a two-on-one and snapped a shot from the left circle. It was the first short-handed goal that the Panthers have scored all season.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Heat Slip By Pacers

     The Miami Heat got timely three-point shots in the final 1:30 by Chris Bosh and Ray Allen as they knocked off the Indiana Pacers 97-94 on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena and gained revenge after losing eight days ago in Indiana. The Pacers now lead the Heat by one game in the Eastern Conference standings. Both teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
     The Pacers stayed focus and were up 26-22 after one quarter. Indiana(20-5) went on a 10-2 spurt in the beginning of the second quarter and led 36-24 at 9:25. The Heat pulled within three points later on in the period, however the Pacers moved through with a 12-6 edge at the end of the first half to go ahead 52-41.
     Indiana was able to extend their lead up to 15 points at 68-53 with 5:48 left in the third quarter. Miami(19-6) finished on a 18-8 streak and were behind 76-71 as they headed into the fourth. The Heat remained eight points back with 90-82 with 3:51 left. Miami then went on a 13-2 run and took the lead 95-92 with 59 seconds when Ray Allen made a three-pointer from the left side.
     LeBron James compiled 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes of play for the Heat. Dwyane Wade had a team-high 32 points while Bosh added 15 points with eight rebounds.
     Paul George led Indiana with a team-high 25 points and six assists along with eight rebounds in 43 minutes. David West knocked down 23 points and Lance Stephenson missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds.    

Casey McGehee Signs With Marlins

     The Miami Marlins have signed free agent third baseman Casey McGehee to a one-year deal for $1.1 million. He played last season in Japan instead of in the major leagues. He had 27 home runs and batted .289 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013.
     McGehee played one season with the Chicago Cubs in 2008 and had 5 RBI and a .167 batting average in nine games. He moved on to the Milwaukee Brewers from 2009 until 2011. His best season there was in 2010 when he blasted 23 home runs with 104 RBI, .285 batting average and a .801 OPS.
     He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2012 season and compiled eight home runs, 35 RBI and a batting average of .230 in 92 games. McGehee was then dealt later that season to the New York Yankees where he played 22 games and had one home run with 6 RBI and a meager .151 batting average.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WIOD Moves Rick Sanchez

     News Talk 610 WIOD-AM will move their afternoon host Rick Sanchez to a late morning shift as of January 6. He is about to celebrate his first anniversary at that station next month. Sean Hannity will move from being on tape delay at nights to a live afternoon shift while Glenn Beck goes to evenings from late mornings.
     Sanchez was the radio game analyst for Florida International University football during the 2011 season. He was known as a newscaster throughout most of his broadcasting career. He had a long tenure of over a decade as a weekday news anchor at WSVN-TV Channel 7. Sanchez went to the national stage when he became a news anchor at MSNBC. He returned to Miami and worked at WTVJ-TV Channel 6 first as an afternoon talk show host then later as a news anchor. He joined CNN as a weekend daytime news anchor and was later elevated to mid-afternoon weekday host at that network.

Panthers Drop Leafs

     The Florida Panthers extended their win streak to four games as they beat their new divisional foe the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night. The Cats, who have not had four consecutive victories any time during the last two NHL seasons since March 2011, closed to within six points of the Leafs for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. In addition, the Panthers have been victorious in six of their last seven games.    
     Tomas Fleischmann raced in down the left side and snapped a shot from the left circle by James Reimer at 3:29 in the first period for Florida(13-7-5). It was his first goal in six games and second goal in the last 21 games. Panther rookies Aleksander Barkov and Dylan Olsen got assists on that play.
     The Panthers extended their lead to 2-0 at 5:54 of the second period. Dmitry Kulikov was at the blue line and passed to Barkov in the left circle. His shot was saved and Sean Bergenheim put in the rebound at the doorstep of the crease with a backhand shot.
     Brad Boyes would score his first goal in 12 games with an unassisted goal with 3:10 left in the second. Dion Phaneuf gave away the puck in his own end, Boyes streaked through the left circle and scored on a second-chance shot from the crease area.
     In the third period, Toronto(17-16-3) attempted to climb back from the three-goal deficit as Mason Raymond scored his 11th goal of the year at 3:43 with an assist from Peter Holland.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Panthers Edge Habs

 
    The Florida Panthers began a four-game road trip through Canada as they got a 2-1 victory on Sunday night over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. The Panthers, now with a season-high three-game winning streak, have won five of their last six games.
     Florida(12-17-5) compiled two goals during the second period to take the lead it would not relinquish. Jesse Winchester would put in his fifth goal this season at 4:44 with assists from Tomas Kopecky and Marcel Goc on the play. Nick Bjugstad added his sixth tally this year as he fired a shot from the right-circle dot off the glove of Peter Budaj and into the net. Tomas Fleischmann fed Bjugstad the pass from the right point and Scottie Upshall was credited with an assist.
     Montreal(20-12-3) closed the gap early in third period as Alex Galchenyuk scored his tenth goal this season at 2:28. Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban both picked up assists on the play for the Habs.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Miami Central Continues Dynasty

     The Miami Central Rockets captured their second straight FHSAA Class 6A title and their third in the past four seasons as they beat the Armwood Hawks 52-7 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. The Rockets joined Booker T. Washington and Champagnat as the third Dade County school to win a state championship in 2013.
     Miami Central(14-1) jumped out to a 14-point lead during the first quarter. On the first play of their second possession, running back Dalvin Cook sprinted down the right sideline from 37 yards away to give the Rockets a 7-0 lead at 6:46.
     On the following possession, the Rockets extended their margin to 14-0 with 4:01 left in the first as running back Malik Adams went around the right end for a five-yard touchdown to finish a five-play, 45-yard drive.
     In the second quarter, Rockets wide receiver Da'vante Phillips caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Keith Reed in the front of the end zone at 6:12.  It was step up from the ensuing play on a 41-yard punt return by Phillips to the Hawks 19-yard line.
     Armwood(14-1) finally got on the scoreboard with 1:21 left in the first half as quarterback Noah Johnson found Trevor Laurent on a corner route from 11 yards out. It completed a six-play, 37-yard drive as the Hawks trailed 21-7. They got the possession when cornerback Kyle Gibson picked off a pass from Reed at the Armwood 48-yard line.
     The Rockets kept the momentum following the halftime break as they added two touchdowns early in the third quarter and increased their lead to 35-7. Cook rushed in with a five-yard touchdown at 10:32 and ended a five-play, 85-yard drive to begin the second half. Cornerback Tavius Jones intercepted a pass on the left side and ran the ball back 43 yards down the sideline for a score at 9:29.
     Rockets linebacker Donna Thompson made an interception at the Hawks 30-yard line. Kicker Beymar Piraquive extended the lead to 38-7 with 1:59 left in the third as he kicked a 43-yard field goal.
     Cook showed his explosive speed on the first play of the fourth quarter as he sprinted up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run at 11:48 making it 45-7. He added a five-yard run through the right side of the line for a score with 7:10 left following a punt block by Jamel Cook three play earlier to make it 52-7.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Panthers Top Capitals

    The Florida Panthers held off the Washington Capitals with a 3-2 shootout victory on Friday night at the BB&T Center. The Cats have won four of their last five games and look forward to a four-game road trip in Canada. 
     Neither team scored in the first period, however Dylan Olsen scored his third career goal from the low left circle at 2:13 of the second period to give Florida(11-17-7) a 1-0 lead. Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau got the assists on the play. Nicklas Backstrom evened the game for the Capitals at 16:34 of the second.
    During a 4-on-4 situation, a clearing pass off the wall by Mike Green was stopped at the right point by Aleksander Barkov. He skated with the puck toward the middle and ripped a wrist shot at 17:56 for his fifth goal this year and a Panthers 2-1 lead.
    Washingon(17-12-3) got an unusual break with 29 seconds left in the period. Joel Ward took a slapshot from the slot area that was saved by Scott Clemmensen, but Mike Weaver kicked the puck from in front of the net off Clemmensen's leg and into the Panthers cage.
     After there was no scoring in the third period and overtime, the game went into a shootout. It was a total surprise that it took ten attempts to get the winner of the contest. Both teams would score in two of their first three chances and on their fourth attempt. Following five rounds of missed opportunities, Tomas Kopecky wrapped it up with a shootout tally in the tenth round. 

Dwyer Takes Second State Title

     The Dwyer Panthers finished an undefeated season with a 55-39 victory over the Niceville Eagles in the Class 7A championship game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Friday night. The Panthers captured their second state title after they won a previous championship in Class 4A back in 2009.
     Niceville(13-2) struck early in their first possession of the first quarter as quarterback Ashton Hooker finished the six-play, 60-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown through the middle at 9:53 for a 7-0 lead.
     Dwyer(15-0) responded quickly as they completed an 11-play, 65-yard drive for a score at 4:57. Quarterback Daniel Parr threw a screen pass toward the right side to wide receiver Ezra Saffold and he cut across the field to the left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown reception.
     The Eagles regained the lead 14-7 at 2:29 of the first. Running back Tayjon Culley rolled up the middle from one yard away for a score to close a nine-play, 65-yard drive.
     The Panthers clawed their way back on their next possession on a ten-play, 67-yard drive. Running back Alonso Smith, who had 219 rushing yards on 29 carries in the game, powered around the left end and reached the end zone from five yards out at 9:28 of the second quarter. Dwyer kicker Peyton Shapiro missed the extra point and they were down 14-13.
     Niceville continued to roll as they scored on their third straight possession to start the game. Culley scored on a 22-yard touchdown run as he broke through a several tackles after the line of scrimmage and rumbled down the left hash marks for an Eagles 21-13 lead with 7:43 to go in the second. It ended a seven-play, 63-yard drive for them.
     Once again Dwyer matched their opponent with their third consecutive drive for a touchdown. Saffold caught a 28-yard TD reception down the right sideline with 4:28 left in the second half. Parr failed to convert on a two-point conversion run toward the right side and the Panthers were still behind 21-19.
     During the first half, Parr had completed his first 12 passes of the game. Dwyer had a 310-195 edge in offensive yards and a 17-11 advantage in first downs at halftime.
     Panthers cornerback Shawun Lurry intercepted a Hooker pass and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown to give Dwyer their first lead of the game at 26-21 with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
     The lead changed moments later when Hooker threw a pass to the right side where wide receiver Aaron Willis took it 55 yards into the end zone at 7:45. The Tyre McCants two-point converstion run feel short, but Niceville had the lead 27-26.
     Dwyer wide receiver Johnnie Dixon finally made an impact in the game as he caught a 13-yard touchdown reception from Parr at 4:42 of the third to finish an eight-play, 72-yard drive. Saffold scooped up the ball in the front of the end zone on a two-point conversion pass to give the Panthers a seven-point lead at 34-27.
    Panthers inside linebacker Trace Batten made an interception on a screen pass to the left side at the Niceville 26-yard line and returned it 14 yards. Five plays later, fullback Gerald Hearns barely got the ball over the goal line from one yard out when he launched himself over the lineman with 1:02 left in the third quarter for a Dwyer 41-27 margin.
    On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hooker fired a pass down the left sideline and McCants sailed down the left sideline by safety Shawn Boone for a 69-yard touchdown. Zack Bailey missed the extra point as it hit off the left upright and Niceville trailed 41-33 with 11:48 remaining.
    Smith helped Dwyer with a 25-yard pickup to the Eagles eight-yard line on the ensuing drive. Parr capped the nine-play, 66-yard possession at 8:42 as he dashed around the left side for a four-yard score and extended the Panthers lead to 48-33.
    On the first play of the Panthers next possession, Smith staggered around the right end and through the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown run and increased their gap to 55-33 with 7:29 left in the fourth.
    The Eagles were deflated when safety Clint Stephens made an interception at the Panthers five-yard line and returned it 45 yards to midfield at the six-minute mark. Niceville finished the game on a positive note with 37 seconds to go as Culley jammed into the end zone on a one-yard run.

American Heritage Wins First State Title

     The American Heritage Patriots captured their first state football championship as they destroyed the Clay Blue Devils 66-8 in the FHSAA Class 5A title game on Friday afternoon at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
     American Heritage(14-1) dominated the first half as they scored on their first five possessions of the game. After a three-and-out by Clay, the Patriots scored on their first play from scrimmage as quarterback Torrance Gibson faked a handoff and went around the left end for a 78-yard touchdown at 9:50 of the first quarter. Scott Wade had the extra point blocked and Pats led 6-0.
     The Patriots excelled on their next drive with consecutive rushes by running back Sony Michel of 21 and 29 yards to get the ball deep in Blue Devils territory. Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie capped the four-play 72-yard drive with a three-yard dash through the right side of the line for a 13-0 margin at 6:43 of the first.
     On the fourth play of their next possession, Gibson threw a swing pass to McKenzie on the right side and he raced down the right sideline 49 yards for the score. They were up 20-0 with 3:49 left in the first quarter.
     Clay(10-5) finally picked up a first down with just over three minutes left in the first as quarterback Wes Weeks ran up the middle for two yards to the Blue Devils 23-yard line, however they had to punt the ball away four plays later.
     The Pats continued to roll in the second quarter as Michel finished a six-play, 59-yard drive as he went untouched with a run up the middle at 11:23 for a 27-0 lead. American Heritage followed that with another touchdown on an 11-play, 59-yard drive when Michel jumped over the top of a pile on a fullback plunge from one yard out at 5:10 and a 33-0 margin.
     The Patriots finished off the first half and extended their lead to 40-0 with 18 seconds left. Gibson was forced out of the pocket to the left, reversed his field as he ran to the right and fired a 34-yard pass into the right back corner of the end zone to wide receiver Dredrick Snelson. Heritage had compiled 371 yards on offense while Clay had just 64 yards by halftime.
     Momentum continued for American Heritage as they added three more touchdowns within the first three minutes of the second half. They picked up two consecutive special teams on their first two touches of the third quarter. Tavar McFadden returned the opening kickoff of the second half 86 yards through the middle of the field eight seconds into the third then McKenzie ran back a punt return 65 yards down the right sideline untouched at 9:30.
     The Blue Devils turned the ball over deep in their own end as Weeks fumbled the ball at their own 13-yard line. Michel ran around the right side on the first play of the Patriots next drive to make it 59-0 with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter.
     Michel was pulled from the game with just under five minutes to go in the third quarter by Patriots head coach Mike Rumph. A running clock was agreed on by both coaching staffs and used in the final quarter due to a 35-point margin in the game.
     American Heritage put up another touchdown on their first possession of the final quarter. Running back Travis Jackson sprinted in from 27 yards out at 8:56 to finish a six-play, 58-yard drive.
     Clay broke the shutout with 4:38 left in the fourth as Weeks scrambled around the left end from 32 yards away to end the seven-play, 80-yard drive. Running back J.T. Turner scored on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 66-8.   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Miami Central And Armwood Title Preview

     The Miami Central will try to capture their second straight FHSAA Class 6A title and their third in the last four years as they challenge the Armwood Hawks at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. Both teams met for the championship in 2011, however Armwood was stripped of the title and the Rockets were also disqualified due to FHSAA violations.
     Despite a loss to eventual Class 4A state champion Booker T. Washington during the second week of the season, Miami Central(13-1) has won 12 consecutive games and look to become the third Dade County school to win a state championship this year. The Rockets have outscored their opponents 372-109 in the last eight games. They have played all their four playoff games at home and been easily victorious. The Rockets pulled away from Boynton Beach 55-37 in the regional quarterfinal, blasted Dillard 59-14 in the regional semifinal, pounded Heritage 54-3 in the regional final and held off Mainland 28-15 in the state semifinal.
     The main emphasis for the Rockets offense is their rushing attack. They have two of the best running backs in the state with Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook. Both players are strong, powerful and elusive with the football. Quarterback Keith Reed calls the signals for Miami Central and he will look for wide receiver Da'vante Phillips on pass patterns.
     Undefeated Armwood(14-0) has scored at least 27 points in every game this year and outscored their opponents 401-42 during the regular season. The Hawks took the same path like Miami Central as they hosted all four playoff games. They took Venice 31-19 in the regional quarterfinal, edged Jefferson 52-48 in the regional semifinal, blanked Springstead 41-0 in the regional final and escaped Bartram Trail 35-28 in triple overtime during the state semifinal.
     The Hawks have a balanced attack with an I-formation using tailback Caylon Holloway and fullback Craig Carrington. Quarterback Noah Johnson looks to connect with wide receivers Talvin Bailey and Austin Gallon on deep routes.

Apopka And South Dade Title Preview

     The Apopka Blue Darters look to capture their second consecutive FHSAA Class 8A championship when they play the South Dade Buccaneers in the title game on Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Apopka, located less than 15 miles northwest of the Citrus Bowl, have the shortest trip among all the schools playing in the high school football championships over the last two weeks.
     After losing their opening game in South Carolina against Byrnes, Apopka(13-1) has won 13 straight games. The Blue Darters are on pace for the Florida state record for most points in a season. They have scored at least 31 points in all of their games this season and put up at least 42 points in 12 of 14 games. Apopka blew out University 77-21 in the regional quarterfinal, held off Winter Park 31-7 in the regional semifinal, then went on the road to beat First Coast 42-20 in the regional final and outlasted Plant 45-29 in the state semifinal.
     The Blue Darters are once again led by quarterback Zack Darlington. He overcame a serious injury during the first game of the season when they faced Byrnes and he has bounced back. They have a well-rounded rushing attack with tailback Daquon Isom and fullback Chandler Cox to create things. Darlington has two wide receiver targets with Jacob Wittrock and Ray Ray Smith to receive the ball all over the field.
     With the exception of Bolles in Class 4A, South Dade(13-1) is the only the only school to appear in a state championship game this year without winning a district title. The district runner-up Buccaneers took the tough way to get to Orlando as they won their first three playoff games on the road. They routed Southwest 42-7 in the regional quarterfinal, edged district foe Killian 13-7 in the regional semifinal and blanked Coral Gables 6-0 in the regional final. South Dade returned home to Homestead for the state semifinal and routed Palm Beach Gardens 37-10.
     Look for quarterback Khalil Bender to throw the ball a majority of the time with limited running plays on offense. He has numerous options to pass to as wide receivers Tyre Brady, C.J. Worten, Tavian Williams and Nathaniel Terry will attempt to get receptions. 

Dwyer And Niceville Title Preview

     The Dwyer Panthers will attempt to win their second state title on Friday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando as they face the Niceville Eagles in the FHSAA Class 7A championship. The Panthers had won a Class 4A state title back in 2009 over Niceville 42-14 with current Florida State University tight end Nick O'Leary and Baltimore Ravens defensive back Matt Elam.
     Dwyer(14-0) is undefeated with their best record in school history and scored at least 30 points in every game this season. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 587-127 overall this year. They hosted their first three playoff games in which they pounded Boyd Anderson 35-8 in the regional quarterfinal, routed Blanche Ely 49-7 in the regional semifinal and ousted the defending Class 7A champion St. Thomas Aquinas 35-28 in the regional final. Dwyer played their closest game of the year as they went on the road for a state semifinal and stopped East Lake 31-24 in overtime.
     Quarterback Daniel Parr leads the way for the Panthers as their quarterback. Expect most of the carries to be made by running back Alonso Smith along with Gearld Hearns and Cornelius Smith to be used in short-yardage situations. The talent in the wide receiver core is deep with Johnnie Dixon, Ezra Saffold, Clint Stephens, Shawun Lurry, Eddie Giles and Nick Martinsen.
     Niceville(13-1) rides a five-game winning streak into this game and have scored at least 26 points in every victory this season. The playoff schedule has been in their favor as they have hosted every postseason game. They routed Leon 62-14 in a regional quarterfinal, defeated Lincoln 38-17 in the regional semifinal, handled Fletcher 38-17 in the regional final and squeezed by Osceola 31-30 in the state semifinal.
     The Eagles, who have not traveled outside of the their home field for the past month, has to make a long trip from the Florida Panhandle. Quarterback Ashton Hooker looks to execute their offense through the option. Running backs Tayjon Culley and Shi'Kim Coward will attempt to rush beyond the line of scrimmage. Tyre McCants is their lone threat at wide receiver for the team.   

American Heritage And Clay Title Preview

     After years of disappointment in the FHSAA playoffs, the American Heritage Patriots finally get to the championship game as they take on the Clay Blue Devils on Friday afternoon for the Class 5A title at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
     American Heritage(13-1) have won 13 consecutive games since they lost opening week at home against defending Class 6A champion Miami Central. The Patriots have piled on the points during their playoff run and scored at least 40 points in every game. They wiped out Lely 51-13 in the regional quarterfinal, knocked off Immokalee 49-34 in the regional semifinal, pounded Hardee 41-7 in the regional final and defeated Lake Wales 48-16 in the state semifinal.
     The Patriots have a balanced offensive attack with the run and the pass. Quarterback Torrance Gibson can execute plays out of the option as running back Sony Michel is expected to get most of the carries from the backfield. Michel will get an occasional screen pass thrown to him by Gibson. Wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie, Brandon Johnson and Dredrick Snelson can spread the field for receptions.
     Clay(10-4), who come into this contest on a seven-game win streak, have won their last three playoff games by just a combined five points. They beat Bishop Kenny in a regional semifinal slugfest 74-73, edged Pensacola Catholic 9-7 in a regional final and slipped by Lakewood 40-38 in a state semifinal.
     The Blue Devils, looking to win their first state title since 1967, have a crowded group of people in the backfield. They are deep in the quarterback spot with Wes Weeks, Hunter Alexander and Jake Smith along with running backs Shannon Asbell, J.T. Turner and Bilai Alley.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Panthers Break Red Wings Again

     Stephen Weiss made his return to South Florida on Tuesday night as the Florida Panthers came back with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings at BB&T Center. Weiss was drafted by the Panthers in this arena back in 2001 and played with the Cats from 2002 until 2013.
     The Cats edged the Red Wings 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night. It was their second regulation win and third overall victory in Panthers history at Michigan.
     Detroit(15-9-8) got the lead on their second power play of the game at 10:26 of the first period. Pavel Datsyuk shot the puck from the top left circle and Todd Bertuzzi swept in the rebound from the left side of the crease behind Tim Thomas.
     The Red Wings scored again at 6:47 into the second period and extended their lead to 2-0. Johan Frazen passed the puck from the right corner to Jonathan Ericsson near the right point. He sent a cross-ice pass to Datsyuk in the low left circle where put in a wrist shot into a half-open net.
     Florida(10-17-7) mounted a comeback during the third period. They cut it to 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining. Dmitry Kulikov blasted a left-point shot that was redirected by Sean Bergenheim at the top left circle.
     The Cats got a one-man effort by Nick Bjugstad to tie the game with 5:22 left. He carried the puck from the left corner around two defenders and flicked a shot over the left shoulder of Jimmy Howard.
     The game went into a shootout and the Cats got ahead on their first attempt as Aleksander Barkov held off and poked a backhand shot in. The Wings evened it during their second attempt when Tomas Tatar snapped a shot between the legs of Thomas. Brad Boyes clinched the contest on the Cats third attempt with a wrist shot under the left arm of Howard.     
     Thomas improved to 9-10-1 as he stopped 24 shots while Howard fell to 6-8-7 as he made 25 saves. The Panthers were scoreless on the power play in three opportunities and the Red Wings went 1-for-4.

Marlins Trade Logan Morrison

     The Miami Marlins have traded first baseman Logan Morrison to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carter Capps. Morrison made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins in 2010 as a left fielder. He has six home runs, 36 RBI and a .242 batting average in 85 games with the Fish last season.
     Morrison, who has been outspoken on social media about Marlins management since the 2011 season when he was sent to the minor leagues, had 42 home runs along with 162 RBI and a .249 batting average in 363 games during a four-season stint with the Fish.
     Capps was 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA and went 59 innings in 53 games with the Mariners in 2013. He broke into the majors with Seattle in 2012, had a 0-0 record and pitched 25 innings as he made 18 appearances.

Andy Slater Leaves WMEN For WINZ

     Andy Slater has announced that he is leaving 640 Sports WMEN-AM after over five years of service. His final midday show at that station will be on Thursday. He will join 940 The Sports Animal WINZ-AM on January 6 and replaces Phil Domanic and Troy Stradford as the mid-afternoon host.
     Slater, a Franklin Pierce College grad, was once a Florida Marlins visiting clubhouse attendant and worked with the Oakland Raiders organization prior to his professional broadcasting career. He began at 640 Sports as a weekend co-host when the station flipped to a sports format in April 2008. He was elevated to the afternoon co-host position in late 2009 and worked with Larry Milian. Slater was moved to the evening shift in January 2010 when the station hired Ed Kaplan.
     He was promoted to the midday shift in April 2011 when the New York Yankees Radio Network took over the evening slot. Slater also co-hosted a Saturday midday show with longtime Miami sports host Hank Goldberg during the football season from 2011 until 2013.
     Slater was demoted to two hours during 2013 and moved to the early afternoon shift in early August when Dan Sileo took over the midday shift. He regained his midday shift and an extra hour of work three months later in early November when Sileo was fired.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Marlins Sign Garrett Jones

     The Miami Marlins have signed first baseman Garrett Jones to a two-year contract worth $7.5 million. Jones had played the last five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He helped the Bucs earn a winning record during the regular season and playoff appearance in 2013 for the first time since 1992. Last year he had 15 home runs, 51 RBI and a .233 batting average with Pittsburgh.
     He made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2007 and was involved in 31 games. Jones returned to the majors in 2009 when he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and played outfield along with first base. He has 102 home runs, 330 RBI and a .254 batting average in six major league seasons.

Marc Hochman Goes To WQAM

     Marc Hochman did his final morning show with Jonathan Zaslow last Friday on December 6 at 790 The Ticket WAXY-AM and 104.3 The Ticket WAXY-FM. He leaves both stations and will join Sports Radio 560 WQAM-AM on April 1 after a 90-day non-compete clause in his contract with Lincoln Financial Media expires. It is expected that he will work the afternoon drive show at WQAM and will compete against former show colleagues Dan LeBatard and Jon Weiner, a.k.a. Stugotz, at The Ticket.
     With the addition of Hochman, WQAM will make several lineup changes in the next couple of months. The first step the station took was to let go John Renshaw, a.k.a. The Freak, from the midday shift. Renshaw was hired by former program director Jorge Sedano in early August 2012 as a weekend host. South Florida Sport broke the story on March 6 one day after Dan Sileo was fired that Renshaw would be elevated to the midday position. Due to prior work commitments in Louisville, he would not show up at that spot until late April.
     It will continue a domino effect there as Channing Crowder will return back to the early afternoon co-host position with Adam Kuperstein in a couple of weeks. Crowder worked with Kuperstein from October 2012 until late August 2013. He has been the afternoon co-host with Brandon Guzio since they replaced the departed Sedano since early September.
     This leaves a hole in the midday spot that program director Andy King will have to fill. Candidates on the staff that may be considered for the shift will include Guzio, current early afternoon co-host Curtis Stevenson, weekend host/sports anchor Alex Donno, morning sports anchor Greg Likens, Miami Hurricanes Radio Network studio host Danny Rabinowitz, weekend co-hosts The Sports Brothers, weekend host Steve White and local broadcasting legend/weekend host Footy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Panthers Split Road Trip In Detroit And Chicago

     The Florida Panthers faced against the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, who are two of the original six teams in the National Hockey League, this past weekend as they split their two-game road trip.
     Florida surprised new division foe Detroit(15-9-7) with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. Red Wings center Stephen Weiss competed against his former team for the first time after 11 seasons with the Cats.
     The Panthers won back-to-back games for just the second time this season and it was their first regulation victory in Michigan for them since December 1996. Dan Cleary gave the Wings an early 1-0 lead 4:06 into the first period.
     Jimmy Hayes put in his third goal of the season at 2:59 of the second period to tie the game for the Cats 1-1. Jonathan Huberdeau would get the game-winning goal on a backhand shot in the slot with 16:31 remaining in the third period. It was the seventh goal this year for the reigning Calder Trophy winner.
     The second part of the trip had Florida make their only appearance at United Center in Chicago this season and take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Sunday night. Former Panther Kris Versteeg played against the Cats for the first time since he was traded to Chicago back on November 15 for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen.
     Chicago(21-6-5) jumped out quickly to a 2-0 lead in the first period with two goals on the power play. Patrick Sharp scored at 1:10 and Brent Seabrook at 9:11. The Hawks extended the gap to 3-0 when Marian Hossa scored 37 seconds into the second period.
     Florida(9-17-5) crawled back into this game during the middle of the second. Olsen burned his former organization with his second NHL goal at 4:05 and Marcel Goc took advantage of a turnover and scored an unassisted goal from the slot area at 9:37.
     The Blackhawks regained the momentum with the final three tallies of the game to win 6-2. Michal Handzus finished the second as he scored with 2:34 left. Andrew Shaw added a power-play goal at 2:44 of the third period and Brandon Saad put in a backhand shot with 56 seconds to go in regulation.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

South Florida Teams Sweep

     It was a best case scenario on Friday night as four South Florida schools won their state semifinal game and advanced to the FHSAA state championships at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando next weekend. It means that a team from the tri-county area will be represented in all four state championships in Class 8A, 7A, 6A and 5A.
     The only guarantee that a South Florida team would advance was between the Palm Beach Gardens Gators and the South Dade Buccaneers in a Class 8A state semifinal at Harris Field in Homestead. The Gators made their first appearance in this round since they won the Class 6A state title with running back/defensive back Emmanuel Cook in 2005. South Dade easily handled Palm Beach Gardens 37-10 and will play the defending Class 8A state champion Apopka Blue Darters next Saturday night in Orlando.
     The Dwyer Panthers, won was playing in their five state semifinal in the last six years, made the longest trip among all South Florida schools as they traveled to Tarpon Springs and took on the East Lake Eagles in a Class 7A state semifinal. This might have been the most exciting in the state of Florida on Friday night as Dwyer won with a Kansas tiebreaker used in overtime to edge East Lake 31-24. The Panthers advanced to their first championship game since 2009 when they captured the Class 5A title led by tight end Nick O'Leary and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Dwyer will play Niceville for the Class 7A state championship next Friday night at the Citrus Bowl.
     The Miami Central Rockets, defending Class 6A state champions, will return to Orlando for the fourth consecutive year as they beat the Mainland Buccaneers 28-15 on Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium. The Rockets will look for their third state title in the last four years as they face the Armwood Hawks next Saturday afternoon. No school has appeared in the state championship game four straight times since St. Thomas Aquinas when they played in five consecutive Class 5A title games from 2004 until 2008.
     After several years of underachievement, the American Heritage Patriots have climbed the mountain to reach the Class 5A championship game as they went on the road Friday night and blasted the Lake Wales Highlanders 48-16. American Heritage will challenge Clay for the state title on Friday afternoon at the Citrus Bowl.
     There are two South Florida schools that are in Orlando for state championships in the lower classifications. Champagnat won their first state title as they got by Victory Christian Academy 14-7 on Friday afternoon in Class 2A. It was been a great process for this school which started its football program in 2010.
     The Booker T. Washington Tornadoes defended their FHSAA Class 4A title on Saturday night at Orlando as they dismantled the Bolles Bulldogs 40-21 in the 4A championship game. It was their third state football title in school history for them and extended its winning streak to 26 games. They are considered the top-rated team nationally in high school football by many national media organizations and are expected to be named national champions within the next two weeks.     

Friday, December 6, 2013

High School Football Local Radio Broadcasts

     It is the first weekend of December and for the first time in many years FHSAA high school football state semifinal games will be broadcast on local radio. Bright House Sports Network owns the television and video streaming rights to all FHSAA playoff games and Play On Sports owns the audio/radio streaming rights to all FHSAA postseason games.
     Local radio stations are paying a hefty fee to the FHSAA to broadcast Friday's games. South Florida High School Football Show will broadcast the Miami Central and Mainland Class 6A state semifinal game at Traz Powell Stadium on Sports Radio 560 WQAM-AM. Mike Levine and former St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Wesley Carroll will be the announcers for that game.
     The other local game in South Florida on Friday night will be broadcast by ESPN 106.3 West Palm Beach WUUB-FM. It is a Class 8A state semifinal between Palm Beach Gardens and South Dade at Harris Field in Homestead. Either Jeremy Marks-Peltz or Ken LaVicka will be the play-by-play announcer for that contest.
     There are many different expenses to consider when broadcasting a playoff game. These expenses can include travel, gas, motel, ISDN/computer connection, food, vehicle and paid employees.
     WQAM has usually broadcast a playoff football game in the first two rounds unless it is Thanksgiving weekend, a University of Miami game broadcast or a Florida Panthers game broadcast. For once the station does not have any games to program on a Friday night.
     Good Karma Broadcasting had used ESPN 760 WEFL-AM as their high school football broadcast for the first couple of rounds until earlier this year when they flipped to Spanish language using ESPN Deportes. ESPN 106.3 has used a roundtable format named High School Hysteria on Friday nights during the regular season and in the first three rounds this year which was brought over from their sister-station ESPN 760.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Panthers Fly By Jets

     The Florida Panthers completed a five-game homestand with a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at BB&T Center on Thursday night. The Cats, who snapped a three-game losing streak, finished their recent stay in Sunrise at 2-3-0 and will play this weekend in the Midwest at Detroit and Chicago.
     Winnipeg(13-13-4), currently on a season-high six-game road trip, got off to a good start just 5:27 into the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Blake Wheeler took a right-wing slapshot on net, Bryan Little swept the rebound slightly to his left and Andrew Ladd snapped a shot into the cage from the edge of the crease.
     The game was evened by Florida(8-16-5) at 14:02 when they took advantage of a turnover at center ice. Marcel Goc brought the puck back into the Jets zone and passed right to Tomas Fleischmann. He dropped it off to Erik Gudbranson and he blasted a slapshot from the top right circle by Ondrej Pavelec. Tim Thomas made his 11,000th career save late in the first period.
     Dylan Olsen followed with his first NHL goal in his career at 3:31 of the second period for a Panthers 2-1 lead. The Cats got a 3-on-2 odd-man rush when Tobias Enstrom was knocked down behind their own cage. Scottie Upshall skated with the puck down the right side into the Jets zone, fed it to the slot area where Olsen put in a snap shot. Upshall was credited with his 100th career assist on the play and now has a five-game point streak.
     Tomas Fleischmann got out of his goal slump with 2:01 left in the second as he scored on a wrist shot on the edge of the crease following a right-wing shot by Mike Weaver. Florida went into the third period with the lead for just the fourth time this season. They had a 3-0-0 mark prior to this game.
     The Panthers had just finished their first power play and extended their lead to 4-1 at 5:37 of the third period. Tom Gilbert sent a slap pass to Upshall in the high slot and his shot hit the back wall. Nick Bjudstad got the puck and stuffed in a wraparound shot.
     Olli Jokinen would burn his former team with 7:15 to go and closed the gap to 4-2. Devin Setoguchi picked up a loose puck behind the Panthers net and sent a backhand pass to the low slot where Jokinen scored.
     Jimmy Hayes, the player who now wears Jokinen's number 12 jersey with Florida, scored on a breakaway as he switched to the backhand with 2:44 remaining.
     Thomas improved to 7-10-1 as he stopped 29 of 31 shots. Pavelec dropped down to 10-11-3 as he made 21 saves. There were only three power plays in this game as Florida was 0-for-2 and Winnipeg was 0-for-1.

Booker T. Washington And Bolles 4A Title Preview

     Every high school football team wants to finish their season at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Two schools will battle it out there on Saturday night for the FHSAA Class 4A state championship as the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes face The Bolles School Bulldogs. It is rematch from last year where the Tornadoes squashed the Bulldogs 35-7 and won the state title.
     Undefeated Booker T. Washington(13-0) are the defending Class 4A state champions and scored at least 40 points in their last six games. The Tornadoes have outscored their opponents 278-66 this season and won every game by at least 11 points. They beat Glades Central 40-18 at home in the regional semifinal, outlasted University School on the road 45-17 in the regional final and easily handled Cocoa 49-10 in the state semifinal.
     Quarterback Treon Harris is the focal point to the Tornadoes offense as he can run along with throw the ball on any occasion. They have a balanced backfield with running backs Mark Walton and Krondis Larry who can carry the football past the line of scrimmage. Harris has numerous targets to pass to which includes Terrawn McPhee, Lamar Parker and Deltron Hopkins.
     Bolles(10-3) has scored at least 31 points in 12 of their 13 games this season. The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven games after they were held to a season-low 21 points against American Heritage of Plantation.  They played their first two playoff games on the road as they took Keystone Heights 32-10 in the regional semifinal and district foe Raines 35-28 in the regional final. The Bulldogs returned home in the state semifinal and powered through with a 44-27 victory over Florida State University.
     The Bolles School have a FHSAA-high 11 state titles along with a 75-8 record since 2008. The Bulldogs are expected to run the ball the majority of the time with running backs Dexter Carter and Christian Bermudez. They had a battle for quarterback spot earlier this season between Joey Edden and Alex Luchansky.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

American Heritage At Lake Wales Preview

     The American Heritage has played a challenging schedule against a bunch of opponents from outside of Broward County this season. It will be no different on Friday night as they head north to face the Lake Wales Highlanders in a Class 5A state semifinal. The victor will play the Lakewood-Clay winner next Friday afternoon for the state championship at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
     With the exception of an opening week loss at home to Miami Central, American Heritage(12-1) comes into this game on a 12-game win streak. The Patriots have scored at least 33 points in their last seven games along with a margin of victory by at least 15 points. They knocked off Lely 51-13 in the regional quarterfinal, escaped from Immakolee 25-23 in the regional semifinal and ate up Hardee 41-7 in the regional final.
     The Patriots have one of the most known running backs in Florida with Sony Michel in the backfield. He will get the bulk of the carries and receive screen passes from quarterback Torrance Gibson, who can also execute the run out of the option. Look for Gibson to connect with wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Brandon Johnson on deep passes down the field.
     Lake Wales(9-4), who were eliminated in the regional final last year, has to prove that the game is not played on paper. The Highlanders enter this contest on a six-game winning streak after they began the regular season with a record of 2-3. They blanked Spoto 28-0 in the regional quarterfinal, defeated Jesuit 20-9 in the regional semifinal and got by Merritt Island 34-23 in the regional final.
     The key for the Highlanders offense is their backfield. They have Raliond Garrett at quarterback and Justin Henderson as their main running back for most of their rushes. Ernest Hamilton and Eddie Joseph will get an occasional handoff. Wide receivers Dedric Brinson and Marcus Walker are expected to get open for receptions.

Dwyer At East Lake Preview

     The Dwyer Panthers will make a long cross-state trip to Tarpon Springs and take on the East Lake Eagles on Friday night in a Class 7A state semifinal. The Panthers had been at this point of the FHSAA playoffs on the road several times in recent years. They fell short to Plant in 2008, barely lost to Armwood in 2010 and were defeated by Manatee in 2011. A good sign for East Lake is that all of those teams eventually won a state championship.
     Dwyer(13-0), who has their best record in school history, will play in their fifth state semifinal game in the last six years. The undefeated Panthers have outscored their opponents 556-103 this season. This should be a big test for them because have not traveled outside of Palm Beach County this season and all of their playoff games this year have been played at home against Broward County schools. Dwyer routed Boyd Anderson 35-8 in the regional quarterfinal, dominated Blanche Ely 49-7 in the regional semifinal and edged the defending Class 7A champions St. Thomas Aquinas 35-28 in a regional final.
     The Panthers are led on offense by quarterback Daniel Parr as he will throw passes to a slew of wide receivers that include Johnnie Dixon, Ezra Saffold, Clint Stephens, Eddie Giles and Nick Martinsen. Running back Alonso Smith will get more of the carries from the backfield. Gerald Hearns and Cornelius Smith can be used in situations for short yardage. Shawun Lurry is a major threat as a special teams return specialist and has scored several touchdowns this season.
     Undefeated East Lake(13-0) has not given up more than 16 points in a game and have five shutouts this year. The Eagles, who outscored their opponents 579-83 this season, played all their playoff games at home and will be well prepared. In addition, their scoring output has been at least 42 points in 11 of 13 games. They slipped by Palmetto 13-12 in the regional quarterfinal, shut out Pinellas Park 45-0 in the regional semifinal and romped Port Charlotte 49-15 in the regional final.
     Running back Weston Fordham will be the Eagles focus on offense with his rushing. The team had a quarterback battle between Jake Hudson and Jordan Leston earlier this year. Wide receivers Artavis Scott and George Campbell can get receptions on any part of the field.

Mainland At Miami Central Preview

     The defending FHSAA Class 6A state champion Miami Central Rockets are one win away from a return trip to the Citirus Bowl in Orlando. They will have to get by the Mainland Buccaneers of Daytona Beach on Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium in a state semifinal. Both teams met two years ago on the same field as the Rockets were victorious 17-7.
     Miami Central(12-1), who are attempting to capture their third state title in the last four years, are currently on an 11-game winning streak following a defeat to Booker T. Washington during the second week of the regular season. All their victories this year have been by at least 17 points. They have outscored their opponents 344-94 in their last seven games.
     The Rockets have dominated during their three playoff games as the home team. They beat Boynton Beach 55-37 in the regional quarterfinal, dismantled Dillard 59-14 in the regional semifinal and buried Heritage 54-3 in the regional final.
     They will emphasis their ground game on offense with two of the top running backs in the state. Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook can advance the ball anywhere past the line of scrimmage. Look for wide receiver Da'vante Phillips to be the main target of quarterback Keith Reed along with Yearby and Cook on screen plays.  
     Mainland(12-1), who made their 20th consecutive playoff appearance this season, also has not been in peril during their playoff push. The Buccaneers blanked Lake Minneola 49-0 in the regional quarterfinal, got by Leesburg 21-6 in the regional semifinal and mauled South Fort Myers 42-7 in the regional final. They have held their opponents to 13 points or less in 12 out of 13 games this year, which included five shutouts.
     The Bucs had a difficult decision at the beginning of the year on who would start at quarterback between Anthony Williams and Deantre Bellamy. Running backs Trevaughn Rodriguez and Ricky Norris will try to generate yards from the backfield for the team. Mainland is more dangerous with their passing game as they have wide receivers Jamal Hughes, Kaylo Hannah and Wilfred Taylor.

Saltalamacchia Signs With Marlins

     The Miami Marlins have signed South Florida native catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million contract. He helped the Boston Red Sox win the 2013 World Series last season as he compiled 14 home runs, 65 RBI, .804 OPS and a .273 batting average in 121 games.
     Saltalamacchia, a Royal Palm Beach High School grad, was a first round pick by the Atlanta Braves at the Major League Baseball Draft in 2003. He played only 47 games for them in 2007 until he was dealt to the Texas Rangers on July 31. After playing just 193 games during his three seasons there, he was traded to the Red Sox on July 31, 2010. The only postseason appearance in his major league career was last year with that club.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Senators Push Back Panthers

     The Ottawa Senators came back from an early two-goal deficit with four unanswered goals as they defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2 at BB&T Center on Tuesday night. The Panthers have dropped five of their last six games and are now 0-6-1 against Atlantic Division opponents this season. The announced attendance of 10,074 was the lowest at a Panthers home game in Sunrise since they had 10,063 on October 31, 2007 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
     Florida(7-16-5) took advantage of several power play opportunities in the first nine minutes of the first period to go ahead 2-0. The Cats had a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1:13 as Jonathan Huberdeau put in a rebound shot from the edge of the crease following a Tomas Fleischmann slapshot from the high slot area at 6:44.
     The Panthers extended their lead at 8:22 on another power play. Brian Campbell received a pass from the right corner by Scottie Upshall, he skated alone through the left circle and snapped a shot over the left shoulder of Craig Anderson into the top shelf of the cage.
     Ottawa(11-13-4) started to climb out of the hole at 10:58 when Joe Corvo floated a wrist shot from the right point by the right shoulder of Tim Thomas to make it 2-1.
     Erik Condra would tie the game with 1:15 left in the first as he finished the play with a snapshot from the crease area off a feed by Jason Spezza from behind the Panthers net. The Panthers were outshot 21-10 in the first period which included giving up the final 12 shots in the last eight minutes.
     The Sens took the lead on a strange play with 42.3 seconds remaining in the second period. Corvo fired a shot from the right point that bounced off the thigh of Colin Greening, over the head of Thomas and into the net.
     Midway through the third period, the Senators capitalized on a clearing pass by the Panthers in their own zone. Jared Cowen carried the puck down the left-wing wall and sent a cross-ice pass to Bobby Ryan by himself in the low slot and he scored with 8:08 to go for an Ottawa 4-2 lead.
     The Cats were very good on the power play as they went 2-for-3 while the Sens were 1-for-7. Anderson improved to 10-1-1 in his career against his former team. His record is now 7-8-2 this season as he made 30 saves. Thomas fell to 6-10-1 as he stopped 41 of 45 shots.

Palm Beach Gardens At South Dade Preview

     The Palm Beach Gardens Gators travel to Homestead and face the South Dade Buccaneers on Friday night at Harris Field in a Class 8A state semifinal. The winner of this game will play the Apopka-Plant winner in the FHSAA Class 8A state championship next Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
     Both teams in this contest have the shortest to drive for a game this weekend involving South Florida schools. Gardens has to go 110 miles from north Palm Beach County as the away team while South Dade gets to stay in the city limits of Homestead.
     Palm Beach Gardens(9-4) has been considered an underdog in every playoff game they have played this year. They edged Park Vista 34-31 at home in the regional quarterfinal, handled Palm Beach with a 45-28 road win in the regional semifinal and upset an undefeated Miramar squad 12-10 in a dogfight at home. Nine of their last ten games have been decided by 12 points or less whether they won or loss.
     J.P. Caruso will engineer their offense as the quarterback and he can run option along with throwing the ball. Running back Tommy Monday is expected to get the bulk of the carries for the Gators and A.J. Shipman will see an occasional handoff. Look for Caruso to connect with wide receiver Andrew Prince, Caleb Perez and Mario Brown on middle-range passes.
     South Dade(12-1),who ride a five-game winning streak as they head into this game, have been victorious as the road team in three consecutive playoff games. They pounded Southwest 42-7 in the regional quarterfinal, got by Killian 13-7 in the regional semifinal and blanked Coral Gables 6-0 in the regional final.
     The Bucs have a trio of wide receivers in Tyre Brady, C.J. Worten and Nathaniel Terry who can be dangerous downfield. Quarterback Khalil Render will attempt to get them the ball through the air.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coghlan And Webb Released By Fish

     The Miami Marlins announced via a press release that they will not tender a contract for the 2014 season to outfielder Chris Coghlan and pitcher Ryan Webb. Both players now become free agents and can sign with any other major league team.
     Coghlan was the National League Rookie of the Year during the 2009 season. He batted .319 with nine home runs, 47 RBI and an .850 OPS that year. He played five seasons for the club and was never able to stay as a starting outfielder after 2010. He would never appear in more than 93 games in any season following his rookie campaign.
     Webb was known as a middle reliever during his tenure with the Marlins. They acquired him along with Edward Mujica from the San Diego Padres for Cameron Maybin in December 2010. He increased every year with innings pitched and strikeouts in his three seasons with the Fish.

Phil Domanic Out At WINZ

     940 The Sports Animal WINZ-AM has parted ways with their mid-afternoon co-host Phil Domanic, a.k.a. Dizz. His last show was on November 18 when he made a derogatory comment about a Dolphin player.   
     Former Miami Dolphins running back Troy Stradford, who has been Domanic's co-host, carried the program by himself for the remainder of the week. The station began to pipe in the Primetime Show with Steve Hartman and Pat O'Brien from Fox Sports Radio on November 25. They will be on the local airwaves until the end of December. Stradford is expected to resume the program with a new co-host at the start of 2014.
     Domanic joined 940 The Sports Animal in January 2012 with Larry Milian to form The Amigo and Dizz Show during the 3 to 5p.m. spot. They added Stradford as a part-time co-host in November 2012 and he was promoted as a full-time member of the program this past January. Milian left the show at the end of August.
     The first time that Domanic was heard locally was at 640 Sports WMEN-AM. He co-hosted a Saturday late morning show with Larry Milian called the New York Sports Report from late June 2012 to late December 2012.