By Larry Blustein
Just when it appeared that the 2015 high school football season would come to an end for Hallandale High, something that strangely wonderful happened for a program that has enjoyed plenty of spotlight the past two seasons.
Trailing the No. 1 5A school in Florida, 20-7, late in the game, the Chargers rallied, tied the game, and then pulled one of the biggest stunners of the season – when they beat the same Plantation American Heritage team that got the best of the them, less than a month before in the district title game.
With that 27-20 win, which was heard loud and clear across the state of Florida, head coach Dameon Jones and his 10-2 football team now moves one step closer to playing for a state title.
“This is a group of young men who just did not want to lose,” Jones said. “What a great feeling.”
Last year, after leading nationally-rated Miami Central at the half in this very game, the Chargers eventually lost, and while many felt that they had little or no chance of advancing against the two-time defending state champs, this is a program that now believes that after beating the best, the only one that can stop Hallandale from reaching the title game will be themselves.
But before the title game can be looked at, or even thought about – this Friday night’s trip to play a very impressive Orlando Bishop Moore squad is the only thing that this team should be worried about.
Hallandale’s football team has been so new to these post season contests that basically everything that happens is a first. Even though head coaches Bob Leibowitz, Bob Wood and Prince Pearson have enjoyed success in the post season over the years, none ever won that second round game that would put you in a very rare group. That all changed last Friday night.
In the game against American Heritage, record-setting senior quarterback Tyler Huntley playing the entire second half, limping around on an injured left ankle, fired a late touchdown pass to break a 20-20 tie, leading the Chargers to the win.
The game-winner came with 41 seconds left when Huntley found junior Juwan Hardy. But the game was not over.
The Patriots managed to drive to the Hallandale 30 with eight seconds left. That’s when they tried a desperation pass that fell short.
Jones and the Chargers were dominated by this quality team much of the game, losing at the half just 14-7, and Huntley had completed just 3 of 10 passes for 8 yards. Compound that with the fact that American Heritage made it 20-7 when junior Kyshaun Bryan scored on a 38-yard run, and things did not look good at all.
But Huntley as he has done throughout his brilliant career led the team back. Connecting with fellow senior Joshua Hammond, the University of Utah would get his team back in it.
“We just came out and played our game,” said Huntley, “Nobody gave us a chance when we were down in the second half, but it was just a matter of finding a way.”
So, for the first time in school history, the Hallandale Chargers will be practicing on Thanksgiving Day – and while many are enjoying the day off and spending the time with family – the Chargers are still playing football, and it’s the last week of November!