Margate’s Terrell Taylor was an offensive force this season for the Parkland Rangers Pee Wees Division youth tackle football team.
Taylor helped the 12-under age group squad reach the national championship tournament semifinals of the Pop Warner organization. Despite losing to the defending champion Hoffman Estates (Ill.) Redhawks, the Parkland players were nevertheless proud of their accomplishments on the gridiron.
Taylor, 12, has played football for five years, the past three with the Parkland program. He helped the Rangers secure a come-from-behind, 24-22 victory over the Wake Forest (N.C.) Titans in the quarterfinals.
“Our team was better than last year. We made it farther,” said Taylor, who split time between the running back and defensive end positions. “We only made it to the third round of the playoffs last year.”
The Rangers reached nationals by winning Pop Warner’s Greater Miami South Florida Conference and then going on a 4-0 run against regional competition from throughout the southeast United States.
In the process, the Rangers became the first Broward County team to win the Southeast Region title and advance to nationals at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
Parkland finished the regular season at 7-1 and then prevailed in eight of nine playoff match-ups to wrap up play with a 15-2 record. The team lost the third game of the regular season, 6-0, to Palmetto Bay before reeling off 13 wins in a row, including a 19-6 win over Palmetto Bay in this year’s Sean Taylor Classic (Miami South Florida Conference championship game).
When the season began, Taylor said he didn’t think his team would go as far as it did.
“When we made it to the fourth playoff game, I thought we could go far,” he said. “I am going to remember how far our team made it this year. I think we can do this again and maybe win it all next year.”
Parkland pulled off a stunning rally in the national quarterfinals against Wake Forest. Trailing 22-16 with 46 seconds remaining and 62 yards of real estate in front of them, the Rangers went to a spread offense and ripped off chunks of yardage.
Quarterback Matt Hall hit Coleman Bennett for 12 yards, Vincent Pagano for 28 yards and Mark Dorsett for 22 yards on consecutive aerial plays to tie the score at 22. Pagano then kicked the third of his three 2-point conversion kicks for the difference.
“There were 200 teams in the tournament, so to finish in third place is pretty remarkable,” said Parkland Rangers offensive coordinator Ray Pagano.
Ed Hoffman, coach of the team and president of the Parkland Rangers program, took pride in the players’ achievements on and off the field.
“These young scholar-athletes have embraced the challenges and hard work that it takes to win a championship. Many have been playing together since ages 6 and 7,” Hoffman said. “This talented group of athletes also excels in the classroom, as nine players were named as Pop Warner Academic All-Americans.”
Rodney Reyes, the vice president of the Parkland program, said competing at nationals was a tremendous experience for the kids.
“We finished among the top four in the country, and the kids represented themselves well,” Reyes said. “They even gathered as a team on Canada’s sideline during an international game to cheer them on against a team from Dubai.”