Post Top 25 countdown: No. 10 Atlantic
Monday, August 20, 2012
by Jeff Greer
The Atlantic Eagles have all the speed, power and talent necessary to make a serious playoff run and maybe even contend for a state championship this fall.
Sound familiar? To any local high school football fan, it should. No area school has produced more tantalizing talent that hasn't translated to wins in recent years than Atlantic, an always-intimidating team on paper that has come so close to the glory it always appears primed for.
The Eagles should win lots of games. They should host playoff contests. They should compete with the American Heritages, Dwyers and Glades Centrals of the high school football world for state championships and the glory that comes with them.
"Should" just doesn't have the best track record: Atlantic's won 10 playoff games since its last trip to state, which came in 1978. Changing that was Chris Bean's goal the first day he reclaimed the head coaching job in 2010 after a five-year hiatus, and that hasn't changed this fall.
"It's a mental process," said Bean, whose team was 6-4 last year after starting 5-1. "That mentality, that you'll fight for your brother, is what you need to be successful. If you've got some Is and some mes, it can break down the fabric of your team."
There are still plenty of standouts, namely 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle Keith Bryant, who's verbally committed to Miami, and menacing defensive back and return man Brisly Estime.
There's also muscle-packed running back Tevin Spells, talent-oozing receiver Adly Enoicy, fast-improving defensive end Todney Evans, impressive quarterback transfer Jay Mentecky, speedy athlete Fritz Narcisse and a host of other kids who warrant mention in any college recruiter's notepad.
"We have those utility guys who have that MacGyver mentality about football," Bean said. "We have a lot of that now, so we keep asking, 'How can we use this guy on offense or defense, or that guy, or that guy?' It's a good problem to have."
Yet last year's team had the same buzz about it, only to go scoreless in back-to-back district-deciding games against Dwyer and Royal Palm Beach. So turning "should" into "did" once again becomes the foremost challenge for Bean's squad, with its oh-so-teasing talent up and down the roster.
"Expectations are high," Bean said. "They are every year. Football is unpredictable. It takes one or two plays to change your whole season. Hopefully everyone stays healthy, both physically and mentally, and we can produce that brotherhood that we need to win as a group."