Posted: 2:54 pm Friday, September 17th, 2010
By Matt Porter
At practice this week, Glades Central coach Jessie Hester warned his team to not take American Heritage lightly.
Away from the field, he didn’t mind entertaining a hypothetical situation: What would happen if his Raiders played Dwyer?
“They couldn’t beat us,” Hester said.
“That wouldn’t be an issue. They couldn’t beat us doing what they do. The things they do, we have the players to shut them down.”
Hester was not boasting or attempting to create a stir. When asked for a score prediction if Glades Central played Dwyer — with Nick O’Leary in the lineup — Hester plainly said the Raiders would win 35-14, or 28-14.
“Last year they had the running back [Matt Elam],” Hester said. “I don’t see them beating us. Not with the team they have this year.”
All just hypothetical, of course; the teams don’t play each other this year. Hester said he’d love to face Dwyer next fall.
Tonight, Glades Central has its hands full against American Heritage.
Last Sept. 18, the eventual Class 1A state champion Stallions went up 14-0 on the Raiders, before Glades Central woke up and took a 33-14 win.
“They’re going to say in their heads, ‘Aw, it’s American Heritage,'” Hester said of his team. “Hopefully, they’ll remember last year.”
After Monday’s practice, Hester called his team to take a knee, and told the group to beware the Stallions.
“Do not overlook these people. They’ve got some kids that can flat-out play,” he said.
In a colorful example, Hester compared his team’s opponent to a sneaky predator.
“They’re that dingo dog,” Hester told the group. “That dingo dog that comes in the middle of the night stealing babies. That’s American Heritage. They’re coming to take your babies. Now you know that they’re out there, you got to protect yourself.”
“Ain’t taking my babies,” replied one player.
“Now I’m not saying fear,” Hester continued. “This is Glades Central. We fear nobody—“
“Yes sir!” came a shout from the back of the circle.
“But we’ve got to give respect,” Hester said. “We show them respect.”
* * *
Other notes from practice:
Star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Hester said, needs to learn how to summon his best effort every day of the week.
During one drill, several players, including Benjamin, walked laps around the practice field while the Raiders were supposed to be jogging. While watching this, Hester was asked if the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Benjamin understood that at the collegiate level, there could be many players as talented as he is.
Hester simply shook his head.
“You’ve got to keep improving,” Hester said. “Right now, at this point, he doesn’t get it.”
On Friday nights, Benjamin has proven to be one of the area’s best players. Ranked No. 2 on the PBGametime Big Board, he has offers from UM, UF, FSU and several other major colleges.
– Hester said junior defensive back Jamie Wilson has been his most consistent player. “You call his number, you know he’s going to come through.” Wilson has not received a scholarship offer.
– The hardest worker in Glades Central practices? Linebacker Don’Kevious Johnson. “He’s a maniac,” Hester said.
– Hester and QB Jamarious Rowley lauded the performance of linebacker Jatavis Brown, who had a whopping 18 tackles last week against Denison in DeSoto, Texas.