By Gary Curreri
Blanche Ely first year head football coach Nakia Jenkins hopes he has the perfect recipe for success this season.
The first ingredient was discipline. The other things added into the mix will come from the players – hard work and determination.
Jenkins, 38, who was named interim coach for the spring workouts, hopes that label will be gone by the first week of the season.
Jenkins, originally from Belle Glade where he played with former NFLers Fred Taylor and Reidel Anthony at Glades Central High School, started as the offensive coordinator in 2004 at Blanche Ely and returned to the school last year in the same capacity after the team started 0-4. He was the offensive coordinator at his alma mater in 2006-2007 when the team won the Class 3A state championship.
Blanche Ely has made it to the state championship game twice when it finished second in 1987 losing to Tallahassee Godby, 31-3, in the Class 4A game before winning in 2002 in the Class 5A game when it defeated Wharton, 22-10.
This is where I have been off and on.
“This is like being home in Belle Glade,” Jenkins said. “This is like home to me. I like the community. I like what I see. I like the environment. I love it. They want what is best for the kids and I do too.
“We went on a run last year and ended up being district champs,” said Jenkins, who succeeds Charles Hafley as head coach. The team defeated West Boca, 44-20, in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs last year before falling in the regional semifinals to the eventual state champion Dwyer, 49-7.
“We wound up 6-6 and the job just kind of fell in my hands,” Jenkins said. “Coach (Malcolm) Spence (the school’s assistant principal) and Mr. (Karlton) Johnson (the school’s principal) are great friends of mine and I respect those guys to the fullest. They are doing an incredible job here trying to get everything going in the right direction. I got a phone call from them and they said, ‘Coach, we want you to take over the team on an interim basis,’ and, of course, I said, ‘Yes.’ I don’t have to prove myself. They know what I bring to the table. They know I bring discipline first and foremost. I treat the players like they are my own kids.”
Jenkins is relying on several key players this upcoming season, including Therrell Gosier, a 6ft., 7in., 210lb. receiver, who is being highly recruited; Kevin Williams (CB/FS), already committed to West Virginia; wide receivers Laderrick Smith, Thomas Geddis and Terrance Henley, a senior CB. The Tigers also added cornerback George Heck, a transfer from Northeast. They will all be seniors in the fall. (CB).
Junior quarterback Teddrick Moffet will be the key, however.
“He is a three-year starter,” Jenkins said. “He is the anchor of our offense. He is not that tall (5-10), but plays like he is 6-5. He has a great arm.”
Jenkins said the team would have won more games last season if it were disciplined so that has been his focus since he took over. He also brought back long-time Broward County coach Carl Wilburn to be his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
“He has been coaching in Broward County for 30 years and, like me, he’s a disciplinarian,” Jenkins said. “Carl is a guy I look up to. We lost some kids from last year, but the coaches I brought in know these kids and have a good relationship with them. I think that was really big for us.”
Jenkins said he also realizes there are expectations from the community. Blanche Ely has produced 12 players – third most in Florida, who has been drafted by the National Football League, including this year’s selection of Jabari Price by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round.
“There is no pressure,” Jenkins said. “My motto has always been getting the most out of the kids. Ely has never been a football school. They have won some ball games, but for us to get in the playoffs and win a state championship would be huge. That would be the exclamation point.”
“A lot of people know me in the community and they want to see what I have done and what changes I have made,” Jenkins added. “We have great support. We have a booster club now that we haven’t had in a number of years. The support from the community has been great to this point, and I couldn’t ask for anything better, so my return to them is win some ball games. They are going to put the time in for the kids, and it is a good situation, and the best I can do is win some games.”