a group of young men playing a game of football
’Canes running back Jonathan Mesa carries the ball upfield.

Coral Shores’ first opponent wisely backed out of a spring matchup, setting the ’Canes scrambling for an opponent. They found one in the Hi-Tides of Miami Beach, who traveled to Tavernier to face the Hurricanes for some gridiron action on May 21. Coral Shores defeated Miami Beach 20-7 in two quarters of quality football, to the satisfaction of head coach Ed Holly.

“I was very happy with the way our guys competed.” Holly said, adding, “The kids were energized and excited to be there.” 

The Hurricanes used their spring session to find out who they were as a team. 

“It’s very important to use spring football to spring into the fall season,” Holly said. “We use it to find our identity.”

The ’Canes played just one half against Miami Beach, using the time as a scrimmage situation. “We just wanted to get some good work in,” Holly said.

Most recently, that identity has been one of a scrappy team with intensity from kickoff to the final whistle. Part of that package has been quarterback Yemcel Moreno, who missed a portion of last season with a knee injury. Moreno, who is back at full strength, connected for a 32-yard reception in limited time out of an abundance of caution. 

“Yemcel played great. We were guarded with the reps he got,” Holly said.

Like Moreno, AJ Putetti was spared to ensure an ankle injury would be fully recovered in the fall, giving Jhonathan Mesa a majority of the reps carrying the ball. Mesa scored all three of the ’Canes touchdowns and had 145 yards in 11 carries. 

Other standouts mentioned were Lucas Carballo, the Hurricanes’ lacrosse player of the year. Carballo stepped into the free safety role and garnered immediate respect from the ’Canes coaching staff. Eddie Holly’s play at linebacker showed great improvement and, coupled with his offensive play, stands to make him a dual threat his senior season. Coach Holly also praised Jamoris Davis, saying that he should have a phenomenal year. 

“He worked hard and took on a leadership role. He was all over the field,” Holly said.

The greatest challenge the Hurricanes face this fall is getting their offensive line together. After losing key athletes to graduation, Holly will need to get his three returners to mesh with the freshmen filling the roles left vacant by last year’s seniors. The beginnings of a cohesive unit were already showing last week, when Coral Shores accumulated over 200 offensive yards in just one half of a game of football. 

“Spring is very important because it sets up your summer program,” Holly said. “We’re going to work really hard in the weight room this summer so we can have a great fall.”

Coral Shores participates in the Florida Independent Football Conference, which had a pair of teams added to the group this season. Smarten Academy and ABF Academy will join the ’Canes in a quest to bring home a conference championship. Coral Shores’ first matchup is scheduled for Aug. 23 at home against Somerset South Homestead.

Tracy McDonald
Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.