Bucks wrap up playoff berth

Posted on 27 October 2016 by LeslieM

sports102716By Gary Curreri

The work in progress for the Deerfield Beach High School football team is progressing well.

Bucks coach Jevon Glenn’s team, which dispatched Monarch, 42-7, last week, can clinch the District 11-8A championship with a victory over host Piper (8-0, 4-0) on Friday.

Winning a district title is our first goal,” Glenn said. “We had a string of something like 14 years in a row of winning them and then we let that get away from us for a few years. Last year, we won it again and we don’t want to put the carrot before the horse. The district championship is foremost and most important on our list.”

The Bucks (6-1, 4-0) scored 28 unanswered second-quarter points to rout the visiting Knights to clinch a playoff spot as quarterback Nick Holm was efficient as he completed 12 of 16 passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns. He found senior wide receiver Leroy Henley for TD passes of 4 and 20 yards, and senior Jerry Jeudy on a 2-yard scoring toss.

Senior strong safety Kobe Green had a 15-yard fumble return, while senior running backs Alton Allen (20-yard scoring run) and Lafleur Limprevil (9-yard TD run) also found pay dirt.

Glenn said the reversal of an early season, 22-21 overtime loss against Hallandale for using an ineligible player, really had little effect on his team. In fact, he said the loss was a wake-up call for his team that didn’t play up to expectations in that contest.

That hasn’t really affected us,” Glenn said. “That was a moral victory. You go out and you play the game and I take nothing from Hallandale, they were the best team on the field that night. That was a win on a technicality. It is more for the administration to be happy. I said it that night that, when they beat us, they did a helluva job and I still stick to that.”

We are starting to peak at the right the time,” Glenn said. The team’s lone loss this season came against Grayson (Logansville, GA) on the road, 39-14.

Since then, Deerfield has mauled its competition winning 30-0 against Coral Springs; 61-0 against Taravella; 35-6 against Douglas and 42-7 against Monarch. For the season, it has outscored the opposition, 233-77 (including the 22 points in the season opener against Hallandale.

We are getting a little more balance offensively and defensively,” Glenn said. “We are starting to peak and get that chemistry on both sides of the ball. Even though we are playing a whole lot better, I think we have a ways to go. We just need to continue this path that we are going down and I am excited about it.”

Glenn was disappointed that the team’s game against St. Thomas Aquinas was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew a few weeks ago. However, with Piper this week and a non-district game against Cardinal Gibbons the following week, Glenn believes he will be battle-tested come the playoffs.

We can definitely win the state championship this year,” Glenn said. “We missed out on St. Thomas, but we should get the job done against Piper (5-1, 2-1) this week.

On paper, it looks like a big game, but I think it could be the same thing as last year,” said Glenn, whose team routed the Bengals, 38-0, at home last season. “They (Piper) are big Twitter guys and they are doing a lot of talking. They play a really soft schedule and get off to a good record, but they are not fooling anybody with that anymore.”

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Local skaters compete in South Atlantic Regionals

Posted on 19 October 2016 by LeslieM

sports102016By Gary Curreri

Lighthouse Point’s Arianna Varvoutis and Deerfield Beach’s Lucas Altieri recently returned home after competing in the South Atlantic Regional Figure Skating Championships at the Ashburn Ice House in Ashburn, VA.

Varvoutis, 13, a 7th grader at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale, has skated since she was 7. Her friend had a birthday party and Varvoutis was hooked. She was one of 30 members of the Panthers Figure Skating Club based at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs that competed in the event.

I immediately fell in love with (figure skating),” she said. “It was so much fun. I kept going to practices and group classes and started competing.

It is really fun now,” added Varvoutis, who finished 11th in the Juvenile Girls Group E Division at the competition with a 41.97 score. “I am competitive, so when I go to compete I get nervous, but once I get on the ice I think in my head, ‘put on a show and the judges will give you as many points as they can.’”

Skating is a special place for Varvoutis.

It is a feeling of happiness,” she said. “You get away from school, your parents telling you to do your homework and other family members (a younger brother, two turtles and a cat). I am the one that has to take care of them (pets).”

It is the greatest thing,” Varvoutis continued. “It is my calm zone where I can get away and be happy.”

This was her second trip to regionals. Her goal was to get above 43 and make it to the final round. This is her second straight trip to compete in the Juvenile Division.

Last year, I wasn’t the best,” but this year I have accomplished so much more,” she said. “My double Lutz, my double flip, and my double-double. I think I am going to do great.”

Altieri and fellow Panthers Figure Skating Club member Sophia Chouinard recently returned from the 2016 Novice and Junior Challenge Skate, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The invitation-only competition was based on the International scoring system.

It was huge for them to get the exposure and go,” said Nancy Mariani, the Director of Skating Development at the IceDen. Altieri skated to a fourth place finish with a 39.87 short program and 77.06 long that resulted in a 117.69 total. Chouinard was 11th overall with a 33.13 short; 63.46 long, and 96.59 total.

Altieri, 15, a freshman at North Broward Prep, is in his fifth year skating. He said the trip to Utah wasn’t really different from most competitions.

The altitude made it harder to skate,” he said. “I got to experience that. I did okay at that competition by finishing fourth with my new program.”

It was a good year for Altieri last year and he is hoping for bigger and better things this year.

It was pretty good, but what I get nervous about is that I won’t improve as much as last year,” he said. “Last year, I got like two or three new jumps and this year I have one or two, but I am trying a triple-triple, which is a really hard combination.

After a previous best finish of fifth at regionals, Altieri won a Pewter medal at the nationals in the Intermediate Division. This year he is competing in the Novice Division. Not only has he grown on the ice, he also experienced a growth spurt adding five inches to his now, 5-foot, 8-inch frame.

Not much has changed for him as his goal is to return to nationals this year. He placed second at the regional event in the Novice Men with a 94.03 score.

I want to try and do the same as last year and win a medal at nationals,” Altieri said. “I would rather do well at nationals than at a smaller competition. The difference this year is there are new competitors and the judging is a little bit different in Novice. I have to focus more on my edges and my footwork. I want to compete in the Olympics, but that is far away.

Lucas is one of those skaters that just appears to be even,” Mariani said. “Some kids might be doing things that might be harder, but when you put all of his stuff together, it equals magic and that is why he does so well.”

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Caro scores TD, lifts Panthers

Posted on 05 October 2016 by LeslieM

sports100616By Gary Curreri

Lighthouse Point’s Sofia Caro can cross one thing off her sports bucket list.

The 17-year-old senior at Pine Crest scored her first varsity touchdown as the Panthers defeated visiting St. Andrew’s School, 28-8, in front of a raucous homecoming crowd at Best Field in Fort Lauderdale.

I can’t really describe how I’m feeling,” said Caro, who scored on a fourth quarter, 2-yard run to seal the game. “All I can say is that I haven’t stopped smiling since … There’s nothing like it!”

Taking the handoff, Caro followed senior fullback Arjun Sandhu and junior offensive guard Robbie Fatovic 2 yards into the end zone.

It was an amazing feeling,” Caro said. “My teammates, Arjun and Robbie (and others), cleared the way on the right side of the line. I spotted grass and hit the hole.”

Caro, who sports a 4.72 GPA in the classroom, also won the Clara Coleman Prize at her school last year which goes out to the rising senior who demonstrates versatility and merit as a scholar and student at Pine Crest School. Caro is a three-sport star at Pine Crest where she also excels in lacrosse and weightlifting.

As a sophomore, she was the only Broward competitor to make it to states in girls’ weightlifting placing 17th in her 139-pound weight class and last spring she was an all-county selection in lacrosse.

Caro, who played on JV for two seasons and took last year off to concentrate on lacrosse, is happy to be back. The 5-ft., 6 in., 140 lb. tailback said she had two goals. One was to score a touchdown, and the second was to win a championship with the football team. She can cross one of those off her list.

Pine Crest coach Troy Harrison said it was a special moment.

She did a great job of following her lead blocker, finding the hole and crossing the goal line,” Harrison said. “The crowd went crazy, the team went crazy.”

Hearing the announcer call her name on Friday nights gets her pumped. The cheers from the crowd are reminiscent of the 1993 movie, Rudy, about a walk-on player at the University of Notre Dame.

I’m on top of the world,” said Caro, who also plays linebacker in defense. “Hearing your name called is something special and it is something I haven’t really experienced in any other sport that I have played.”

Caro is the second female football player to play varsity football at Pine Crest. The other, Anna Lakovitch, was a placekicker and soccer star at the school from 1995-98 and attended Harvard University. South Plantation’s Erin DiMeglio became the first female quarterback in Florida high school history to play in a game in 2012.

Pine Crest, which won for the fourth consecutive week and improved to 4-1, faces King’s Academy in West Palm Beach this week.

Bucks roll again; top Taravella, 61-0

Deerfield Beach must enjoy the turf at Coral Springs High School as for the second consecutive week it rolled to a shutout victory over a District 11-8A foe.

Deerfield, which improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in District 11-8A, scored nine touchdowns and wrapped up the game in the first half as it cruised past Taravella, 61-0, last Thursday night. The team defeated Coral Springs at James Caldwell Field the previous week, 30-0.

Bucks senior quarterback Nick Holm returned from a concussion after sitting out the win over the Colts and threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yard pass to junior receiver Cornelius McCoy on the game’s first play from scrimmage.

Holm also completed a 14-yard scoring pass to senior Jerry Jeudy and a 6-yarder to senior Leroy Henley. Backup QB Alec Brown, who threw for three TDs in the victory over Coral Springs filling in for Holm, picked up where he left off and passed for 146 yards and two TDs.

Junior tailback Jakari Norwood rushed for 87 yards on eight carries and three TDs, while senior Lafleur Limprevil tacked on 95 yards rushing.

The point total was two short of the team record for Deerfield, which leads in the season series between the two teams, 23-6.

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Bucks roll to 30-0 district win

Posted on 29 September 2016 by LeslieM

sports092916By Gary Curreri

It is hard to believe after a 30-0 victory over a district foe that Deerfield Beach head football coach Jevon Glenn would be unhappy, but he was.

This wasn’t a good showing at all,” said Glenn, whose Bucks evened their record at 2-2 and opened District 11-8A play with a 1-0 record. Host Coral Springs, which entered the game undefeated in three games, fell to 3-1 and 0-1 in the district. “After our showing last week in Georgia and not [having] excitement and enthusiasm and be dominant tonight, it was really disappointing for me.”

The Bucks were coming off a 39-14 defeat against nationally-ranked Grayson (Georgia) last week. Deerfield Beach coach Jevon Glenn said his team needed the win. Starting quarterback Nick Holm suffered a concussion in that game and was cleared to play; however, Glenn held him out as a precaution.

Backup quarterback Alec Brown filled in nicely as he threw three touchdown passes – two to Jerry Jeudy covering 4 and 57 yards and a 5-yarder to Leroy Henley. Broward had 160 yards passing for the evening.

Jakari Norwood, who finished the contest with 103 yards, added a 55-yard TD run and Ledin Rivera added a 34-yard field goal in the win for the Bucks.

We won the game,” Glenn said. “Alec did manage the game. The guys didn’t play well around him and he (Brown) did have to fight through some things. He didn’t get the support that really enabled him to show his skills.”

We are a work in progress and I think we are nowhere as good as we will be at the end of the year,” Glenn continued. “People say it is better to win ugly, than lose pretty, but I am disappointed. It wasn’t a good showing.”

Highlands picks up first win

After opening the season with a 14-0 loss to Jupiter Christian, Highlands Christian Academy recorded a 26-12 win over Scheck Hillel Community School. The team dropped a 43-6 decision to St. John Paul II Academy last week.

Knights first-year head coach Josh Harris, who will lead the Knights on Friday in a game against at Palmer Trinity at 4 p.m., has drawn praise from HCA Athletic Director Jim Good. The team is 1-2 overall, but 1-0 in the IFC (Independent Football Conference).

The IFC consists of Highlands Christian, Hillel, Palmer Trinity, Pine Crest Prep and Palm Glades. The Knights finished 2-6 last year and made the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. However, the goal this year is to be competing for the championship title.

Coach Harris is the right man for the job,” Good said. “I’m so grateful and thankful for him, his testimony for the Lord, and his time and commitment. Josh is a full time teacher at Somerset Canyons up in Boynton Beach and sacrifices a lot of time to be here for practices and games. He brings energy, passion and excitement along with organization, structure and discipline. “

In the win over Scheck Hillel, eighth grader running back Christian Opalaky led the team in rushing and had three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Justin Corn found fellow sophomore Titus Baags, a tight end, for an 18-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Knights.

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Nilsson brings home JGA’s biggest prize

Posted on 22 September 2016 by LeslieM

sports092216By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Isak Nilsson called playing on some of the top courses in Broward County every Monday “marvelous.”

He was “marvelous” himself as he finished off his junior golf career with the Junior Golf Association (JGA) of Broward County by winning the prestigious Julius Boros Trophy for having the lowest stroke average for boys for the year.

The 18-year-old freshman at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) averaged 74.6 for the summer competition and was recently presented with the trophy, a large silver bowl donated to the Junior Golf Association of Broward by the late golfing great, Julius Boros.

It was really cool because I am really close with the whole Boros family,” said Nilsson, who also won a four-year grant (McKinney Scholarship) from the JGA. He is majoring in biology.

Ever since I started playing in the JGA when I was 12 as a little kid, I always saw the big trophy being awarded to the big kids and that was something I always wanted to get.”

Being paired with friends every week and being able to play on such a great course was also something I will always remember,” Nilsson added. “It was such a close-knit group.”

Nilsson averaged in the 80s last year; however, he honed his game this year and brought home the coveted prize. He started in Boys D and moved to the Championship Flight three years ago. After the final round of the three-day tournament, Julius Boros III approached Nilsson and asked what he shot.

He had it all calculated and said, ‘Oh, you got me by two strokes,’” Nilsson said. “Winning the trophy makes me want to strive for more obviously. It’s a good feeling and it makes me want to keep practicing and keep playing. It makes me want to try and go to the next step.”

He is sitting out this season at FAU, but hopes to play for the golf team next season. Nilsson said his game really took off last year.

It all started with high school last year,” said Nilsson, a 2016 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School. “I was medalist at regionals and then in the summer in the JGA, I put in a lot of practice and effort … I practiced day and night and I had a really good season and it carried over to this summer.”

What will he remember most?

There are a lot of good players that are good friends, and it is always fun to get paired up in the final group and go head-to-head … it is a good atmosphere,” he said. “The bad thing about it now is I am not a junior (golfer) anymore and can’t play all of these great tournaments for such a low price. Junior golf is a great deal.”

Nilsson said the quality of golf in South Florida is high.

South Florida (golf), even at the amateur level, is pretty difficult because that’s where the top golfers are,” Nilsson said. “I have a lot of friends that play in events in the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) up north because the fields are smaller. They don’t play in Florida because the tournaments are immensely challenging.”

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Bucks top Blanche Ely, 30-3; Holm, Harris named MVPs

Posted on 15 September 2016 by LeslieM

sports091516By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach High senior quarterback Nick Holm turned in a MVP performance to lead the host Bucks to a convincing 30-3 victory over Blanche Ely before an estimated standing-room only crowd of 4,800 on Friday night in the 3rd annual McDougle Bowl.

Holm, who passed for 289 yards and two scores and added another score on the ground, was named MVP for the Bucks and received a $1,000 scholarship from retired NFL players and brothers Stockar and Jerome McDougle.

The brothers, who partnered with the BCAA and other area businesses, also awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Blanche Ely senior James Harris as the Tigers’ MVP.

Stockar McDougle (1996 Deerfield Beach grad) and Jerome McDougle (1997 Blanche Ely grad) are heavily involved in the community and are happy with the growth of the game’s prominence. It is part of the McDougle Family Foundation’s “Firstability” program, which focuses on a balance between academics and athletics.

It’s tough because you really want to see a successful game,” said Jerome, 37, who played with the Philadelphia Eagles (2003-07) and the New York Giants (2008) after finishing with the University of Miami, where he won a national championship in 2001.

I bleed orange and green and I want to see them do good,” he added. “We’ll get there. It’s what we always say with Firstability and the McDougle Family Foundation. We want kids to keep fighting when they are down and getting back up and never giving up. We have to set the example. We are down now, but I believe we will fight back as a school and we will get back and win one…they can’t win them all. It is a little bittersweet.”

Jerome McDougle said it is a great cause.

I mean the stands were packed, even with people on the side. You just want them to come out and enjoy themselves. Then to be able to give two student athletes scholarships that they will be able to use when they go to college. It is an all-around good thing to do combining sports and academics.

Stockar McDougle said the game has huge implications.

What we are doing is bigger than the game and much bigger than the jerseys that these kids wear,” said Stockar, 39, who played with the Detroit Lions (2000-04), Miami Dolphins (2005) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2006-07) after a college career at the University of Oklahoma. “It is all about unifying two communities – the city of Deerfield Beach and the city of Pompano Beach.

A lot of these kids may know each other, they may even be family members and that is what it is all about, letting them know it is bigger than just sports,” he continued. “It is about education. It is about being well-rounded and being a good person and that’s why we are willing to come back and invest in our community.”

Holm said the team needed the win after it dropped its season-opener 22-21 to host Hallandale in overtime. Deerfield Beach (1-1) had a bye week after the loss.

Holm and Jerry Jeudy, an Alabama commit, teamed up for scoring tosses of 34 and 13 yards and Holm scored on a 2-yard quarterback keeper as the Bucks seized a 20-0 halftime lead. Jeudy finished with nine catches for 131 yards, while teammate Leroy Henley caught 6 passes for 101 yards.

The Bucks’ Jaylan Knighton added an 11-yard TD run and Ledin Rivera kicked a 25-yard field goal. Blanche Ely (1-2) averted the shutout on a 27-yard field goal by Charite Wensley with 9:41 remaining in the game.

It was big for us to get the early lead, build some momentum and show Ely who we were,” said Holm, who finished 14 for 23 with one interception.

We needed this win,” said Holm, who went 14 for 23 with one interception. “It’s a big rivalry. There was a little talk back and forth during the week on who was going to win. We had a pep rally today and it was good to come out with the win. This was our first win of the season.”

Deerfield Beach is 9-3 in the all-time series dating back to 2004, having won the last five contests after dropping three straight from 2009-2011. The Bucks were the 10th ranked Class 8A team in the state, according to Associated Press.

Blanche Ely coach Carl Wilburn took over at Blanche Ely after the Tigers finished 2-9 last season — including a first-round exit in the playoffs to Dwyer. The team split its first two games this season winning against Plantation last week after dropping its opener on the road to North Marion.

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Riding the waves: Tom Leeman talks about kiteboarding

Posted on 09 September 2016 by LeslieM

kiteboard090816By Rachel Galvin

If the wind is blowing, Tom Leeman is kiteboarding. He began back in 2002 when he saw a friend, who is a professional kiteboarder, braving the surf. He learned by trial and error, but he suggests learning from an expert.

Anyone who wants to learn how to kiteboard should take a lesson from a qualified instructor who is licensed and insured. That’s the safest way to get started. Kiteboarding is an extreme sport and there is a lot of inherent risk. The ocean can be very unforgiving. Sometimes, the waves are 20 ft. in the currents running 5 to 8 knots. It’s a dangerous place for the inexperienced,” said Leeman, adding, “It’s not too expensive [to get set up]. You’ll probably end up spending about $1500. You need a harness, a board and a couple kites and a bar. Most people start out with a 12 m kite.”

He added, “I was kitesurfing with my friend Jay in Hurricane Dennis and my kite went down into a huge wave that dragged me under. The winds were about 40 kn and it was a pretty hairy situation. When I got back, my friend Jay had broken both bones in his right leg. We had to rush him to the hospital so it was a pretty crazy day.”

Despite the dangers, Leeman likes nothing more than being out in the elements in the blue sea off South Florida shores. Depending on the wind, he may surf all the way up to Boynton.

Kitesurfing is an addictive sport if you’re an adrenaline junkie you’re going to love it, but if you’re afraid of the ocean and you’re afraid of sharks, and you’re afraid of big waves, you’re not going to like it. Kitesurfing immerses you in nature. You use the energy of the wind to propel you over the ocean. It’s like nothing else on earth. It is experiential. You have to experience it to understand it.”

When not kiteboarding, Leeman is teaching it at Delray Beach Kiteboarding. To get a lesson, give them a call at 561-703-5367 or find them on Facebook. They have teachers who are licensed and insured.

You’ll learn the proper way to kitesurf and all of the safety systems, including how to rescue yourself in case of emergencies,” he said.

When on land, Leeman also teaches JKA Karate, works on producing movies occasionally and works for BirthdayComp, which provides free birthday discounts and gifts from local businesses on people’s birthdays (www.birthdaycomp.com).

The local to Deerfield Island Water Sports might not have the gear needed for kiteboarding, but they have plenty of surfboards to get your feet wet out in the ocean. They are located at 1985 NE 2 St. in Deerfield Beach.

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Football season starts tonight!

Posted on 08 September 2016 by LeslieM

Find your fellow fans at these locations

Denver Broncos vs. the Carolina Panthers, baby! Tonight at 8:30 p.m. football season officially opens at Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO. This year’s Super Bowl winning Broncos – complete with Super Bowl MVP Von Miller back on board – will come up against the Panthers, who seek redemption after falling short in last season’s superbowl. Sports bars in every corner of the country have stocked up on wings and beer, and many have had shiny new HDTV screens installed for the season opener.

We all know that most residents of Florida came from somewhere else, so while we may support the Miami Dolphins, many of us also have a first football love that still rules our hometown hearts. Here’s a rundown of where in and around our neighborhoods that you can find your fellow fans, and what specials to expect at that location:

The Cabin Sports Bar — 154 N. Federal Hwy., Deerfield – Patriots fans hang-out! This Sunday there is a pre-Patriot party from 5 to 7 p.m. with “give-a-ways.” In addition, all fans of any team are welcome here. Bucket Specials every Sunday throughout football season. 954-428-6438.

Bonefish Mac’s — 2002 Sample Rd., Pompano – Steelers fans are rumored to gather at Bonefish, so it should be jam-packed with excited fans every Steeler night! 954-781-6227.

Two Georges — 1754 SE 3 Ct., Deerfield Beach – Supports all teams with a football special menu and $2.50 selected beers in the bar area. Only Two Georges offers a 10’ X 8’ projection TV screen that extends out over the water for the big game. Plus 20 regular TVs, to keep everyone happy. All fans are welcome. 954-421-9272.

City Pub — 956 S. Federal Hwy., Deerfield – The City Pub boasts approx. 200 Buffalo Bill fans. See the Baltimore Raven vs. the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at 1p.m. Enjoy their signature Buffalo Roast Beef Sandwich or the Buffalo Hot Dog for eats while watching the game. Buffalo Bills fans have found a home at City Pub, but everyone is always welcome. 954-427-8213

Bru’s Room Deerfield —120 NE 20 Ave., Deerfield – Former Dolphin Bob Brudzinski is the owner and has made Bru’s Room into a special home for all Dolphins fans. You know they’ll have plenty of specials on food and drinks throughout football season. With enough TVs to show every game at the same time, you can stop by early in the week and check the labels on each TV to find out which one will show your game this weekend. 954-420-5959. Their Coral Springs location (1000 N. University Dr.) caters to Cleveland Browns fans — 954-656-8041.

Hott Leggz — 3128 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point – Chicago Bears (and Cubs) fans make their Florida home at Hott Leggz, where they can get traditional Chicago Beef sandwich of roast beef on Italian bread smothered in giardiniera (sautéed Italian peppers). There’s also a TV on every table. 754-307-2444.

Legends Tavern & Grill — 1391 S. Military Tr., Deerfield Beach – They’re offering specials on game weekends including $13 Bud Lite buckets and $2.50 pints on selected beers, as well as All Day Happy Hour on Sundays. Fans from all teams come here. 754-212-2655.

Packy’s Sports Pub — 4480 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point – Packy’s is another great gathering spot for Buffalo Bills fans. With 26 HDTV’s scattered around the bar, Packy’s is taking reservations for the Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphin game on Oct. 23. Beer will be provided on the bus and some tailgating food too. 954-657-8423

Football Season starts this week. This is just a sampling of some local football hangouts. Send your game-day fun pictures to observereditor@comcast.net.

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Pompano junior lifeguards enjoy successful summer

Posted on 01 September 2016 by LeslieM

sports090116By Gary Curreri

When it comes to the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards, summer and surf equals success.

Team Pompano turned in stellar performances this year at the three Junior Lifeguard competitions – Regional meet in Hollywood, State meet in Fort Lauderdale and then the 2016 USLA National Junior Lifeguard Competition at Hermosa Beach, California.

Summer Schulte, 13, an eighth-grader at Pompano Beach Middle School, turned in a career-best performance at the recent National Junior Lifeguard competition. Schulte won four events in the B Group Division (12 and 13-year-olds) and placed second in her other event to pace Pompano.

Schulte won the Surf Swim (Distance Swim), Paddleboard, Rescue Relay and Ironguard and was just edged out at the line in placing second in the Run-Swim-Run. She said winning her first event – the surf swim – gave her a lot of confidence for the rest of the competition because she had never won that event before.

It felt really cool,” said Schulte, who was doing exhibition races with the junior lifeguards at age 8. Competitors need to be 9 to officially compete. “I didn’t think I was going to win that many (events at Nationals)…I learned a lot at this year’s camp and practiced in the California waters before the race so when I got to the actual race I knew which spots would work better. There were a lot of holes and the other girls were falling because they didn’t know where to go.”

The competition in California was difficult with approximately 4,500 Junior Lifeguards in Los Angeles County alone. Competitors from this county had to compete in a “prelims” event so that only the top competitors were able to compete at Nationals.

Notwithstanding, Team Pompano prevailed as National Champions in five events and Team Pompano won 25 medals at nationals (the top five finishers in each event earn medals). Team Pompano was the most medaled Florida team.

In the Girls B Division, Bella Taylor took first in the Rescue Relay; second in Ironguard, third in Run-Swim-Run and fifth in both the paddleboard and Surf Swim (Distance Swim). In the Boys C, Jake Schulte won the Ironguard was second in the Run-Swim-Run and was third in the Surf Swim (Distance Swim). Juliana Freire was fifth in the Distance Run and Alejandro Quinones took fifth in Surf Ski.

The “A” Division Swim Relay (Ronald Hache, Shane Schulte, Mia Marquez, Alex Marquez and Aaron Blanco) placed fourth, while the U-19 Swim Relay (Taylor Barton, Kelly Schulte, Alejandro Quinones, Ala Zielinski and Victoria Zielinski) was third.

We were up against the best of the best on their home turf and we did really well,” said Nemia Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Association. She has been president for the past four years of the group and has five children in the program, including Julia Schulte, 20, who represented the United States in Australia (2012) and in France (2014).

Team Pompano, with 208 total junior lifeguards in the program, won the state competition by more than 100 points over runner-up Fort Lauderdale.

At the state competition, winners included Grace Parnas (paddleboard, beach flags and surf-swim) in the C Division; Jake Schulte in the C boys division with wins in the distance swim, paddleboard, run-swim-run; Bella Taylor (distance swim, paddleboard, run-swim-run) in the Girls B Division; Victoria Scarpinito won beach flags for Girls A group and third in ironguard girls; the Under-19 ironguard swim relay also won. The team was composed of Mattheus Santos, Kelly Schulte, Tyler Zuyus and Victoria Scarpinito.

Another strong performance at state came from the C Division Ironguard: Yvonne Lane, Jake Schulte, Reese Andres, and Grace Parnas, who finished third. Two brothers also did well at the state competition as Alejandro Quinones finished third in Paddleboard in the U-19 Division, while his younger brother, Christian Quinones (B Division) also came in third in both the beach flags and paddleboard.

Fort Lauderdale’s Jackie Nava, 13, won the B Girls Beach Flag event at both the Regional and state competitions. It is only her second year competing.

There is a lot of competition, but you just have to be more competitive,” said Nava, an eighth-grader at Westminster Academy. “This (program) teaches you that you have to be a good teammate and they support you. It is also good to win.”

Other top performances at regionals included: Shane Schulte (Pompano, Boys A), Alejandro Quinones (Pompano, Boys Under-19), Summer Schulte (Pompano, Girls B), Nicolas Calice (Boys B), Grace Parnas (Girls C), Reese Andres (Girls C) and Bella Taylor (Pompano, Girls B).

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Piranhas take 13th in senior swim champs

Posted on 25 August 2016 by LeslieM

sports082516By Gary Curreri

While the overall results weren’t exactly what he wanted, Pompano Beach Piranhas swim team coach Jesse Vassallo still received some outstanding performances in the recent Florida Gold Coast Long Course Senior Championships at the Coral Springs Aquatics Complex.

Vassallo, who has been with the program for the past five years, brought just 12 swimmers to the Senior Championships. The Piranhas finished 13th as a team with 317.50 points, just a dozen points behind Westminster Academy Swim Club (329) in the combined standings.

We did have some good swims from Sloan Sizemore, Tyler Zuyus and Mateos Santos, but I expected a little more from the kids,” Vassallo said. “This group is an 18-Under group and I wanted to come here and get lower times.

We took a smaller group (10) to the (14-Under Florida Gold Coast Long Course Junior Olympics) meet in Stuart the week before and they actually impressed me,” Vassallo added. “I was very, very excited about the new ones.”

Vassallo gushed over two new swimmers in the 10 and Unders who performed well Lilia Blanco, 9, and Steven Gary, 10.

Steven got into the finals in all seven of his events,” Vassallo said. “Lilia swam 9 events and got into three finals. We also had some good swims from Raphael Santos, 13, who finaled in five of his events, which is pretty good because that is a competitive age group.”

Pompano Beach Piranhas has 143 swimmers in the program.

We have been up and down,” Vassallo said. “We are a little low. It is healthy to be about 160, and 180 would be great. I hope to go up a little bit after the Olympics when kids get excited about swimming again.”

The swimmers abilities in the program range from beginners to swimmers hoping to go on to college.

You are talking about kids who are learning to swim, to learning the different strokes and starting to compete,” Vassallo said, “to these kids who are age group elite level.”

One such swimmer is Sizemore, 16, who finished 8th in the high point standings for Girls 15-16 with 71 points. She was eight points out of fifth place.

Competitions like this are very important,” Sizemore said. “We taper for them and I mentally get ready myself for them. I imagine myself beforehand what I am going to do and how I am going to swim my races.

I like that it is new each time,” added Sizemore, a junior at Boca Raton High School, who has been swimming half her life. “You meet new people each time. You have a new experience each time and you get to do a new stroke each time.

She said the camaraderie on the pool deck is important. Pompano Beach is where she has been swimming for those eight years.

I like how we always have get-togethers and we are not afraid to ask for help,” Sizemore said. “We are all close in a way and what I like about it is it’s different from other groups. We do a minimum of 8,000 yards each day up to 10,000 yards each day for each practice and we do doubles (two practices a day), except Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer when we don’t have school.”

The best part about swimming is getting up on the blocks and having a happy feeling that you are going to do your best,” she added. “That you are going to go all out and not have any regrets.”

Zuyus, 16, was third in the Boys 15-16 high points with 87 points, just two points behind third place finisher Grant Dodge, 16, of the North Palm Beach Swim Club. Santos, 15, finished 10 with 70.50 points.

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