MIAMI- We continue our 30 stops in 30 days as we stay in Dade County to check-up on last season's Class 6A state champion - Miami Central Rockets.
Last December, the chances of Miami Central having the opportunity to clinch a berth in the title game was looking real uncertain when they trailed by 17 to undefeated Naples on the road. However, the 1-2 punch of Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook, coupled with the help of Da'Vante Phillips, quickly erased any doubts that the Rockets would have about to returning to Orlando as they escaped, 48-33, en route to crushing Gainesville, 37-14, in the 6A title game.
This season, the Rockets are bringing in a familiar face in Dade County to help lead and continue Central's current success as Roland Smith replaces Telly Lockette as the new head man after Lockette accepted an offer to be the new running backs coach at the University of South Florida in March.
If you remember Miami Northwestern's dominance from 2001-2006, then you know that Roland Smith was at the head of it all as he coached the Bulls to a record of 69-13, while guiding the Bulls to a undefeated state championship season in 2006.
Smith has already been working up the commands, and gearing the Rockets up for another tough campaign this upcoming fall as their regular season schedule features national power Don Basco Prep from New Jersey, along with clashes with state champions Booker T. Washington and University School, and a challenging district with the likes of Northwestern, Norland, Carol City and Homestead.
The Rockets will return with not only two of the nation's best in Yearby and Cook, but with a heavy target on their back as they look to defend their state title.
The experience of playing national teams like Manatee and Grayson turned out to be in the Rockets' favor as the season progressed on the way to the Citrus Bowl last season.
But with the improvements made by Northwestern, Carol City, Homestead and Norland, who all seek to unseat the Rockets, it will be no walk in the park as Central seeks to win their district for the second straight season. It's the first step in accomplishing their goal of returning to Orlando for the state final.
The offensive line will be anchored again by Miami (FL) commit Trevor Darling, who has no problem opening large caps of space for Cook and Yearby. With Phillips looking to have a big season this August, Miami Central will seek to continue being a problem for teams in 6A when the season starts to take place.
Miami Central won't have a matchup in the spring, but expect them to be ready when the season begins to shape up around August.