Special to South Florida Times
MIAMI GARDENS — Miami Norland “Vikings” varsity football team has received another honor, this time from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan.
The students, Jordan said, excel academically and athletically and are “now ranked the best in Florida.”
ESPN rated Vikings No. 8 nationally.
Jordan honored the champions for their 38-0 victory over Crawfordville Wakulla in December’s Citrus Bowl. She recognized the school during the Jan. 24 meeting of the Miami-Dade County Commission held in the Commission Chambers, 111 N.W. First St. in downtown Miami.
Norland traveled to Orlando for a showdown and when it was all over the Vikings were named the Class 5A State Champions, Jordan noted.
Norland played in the championship game last year but lost. “They are here to tell you that revenge is sweet. They got the job done this season,” said Jordan.
Winning the championship has lifted the school’s morale, said Daryle Heidelburg, Norland’s head football coach. “It has also inspired the kids to become involved in other programs. And, once they get more involved in the programs, the more they want to participate in the classroom.”
The required GPA to play on the team is 2.0, Heidelburg said. The team’s is 2.7 and some of the students are headed to college. “My kids understand that to get into college is about more than sports,” he said. “They have all submitted applications and about 10 of the team’s 20 seniors have committed to a school. And, among them, about seven or eight have a GPA of 3.0 or above.”
Some of the players entered college early and were absent from the Jordan ceremony, Heidelburg said.
Vikings running back Randy Duke Johnson, who did not attend, was named to the 2012 Parade football team. He was also named Mr. Florida, the state’s top high school football player, and played in the Under Armour All-Star Football Game in St. Petersburg.
The University of Miami-bound Johnson is only the second South Florida player to ever win the award. Notable past winners include Anquan Boldin, Daunte Culpepper Travis Henry and Tim Tebow.
Illame St. Jusma, 17, a junior and first-year varsity player, cited hard work as the reason for the Vikings’ success. “It’s a team effort. All the hard work really paid off. If you want something, you really need to go after it. And we really wanted the championship,” he said. He applies the same principle to his own life, he said.
“I plan to attend college and study business. I want to make a difference not just in my life but for my mom. One of my goals is to help her out and give her anything she wants or needs. And I’m determined to make that happen,” he said.
Alonzo Faison, 19, agrees that hard work is the key to success. “[Heidelburg] told us a long time ago that we had to work hard… give it our all. And, because of that, I am hoping that you will see me in the future playing on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. A senior, Faison plans to pursue a career in law.
Luis Solano, Norland’s principal, described the Vikings success as “a blessing.”
“They worked hard for every accolade. This is a fine example of what teamwork should be,” Solano said.
The Norland High School Varsity Roster includes D’Andre Aams, Roody Achilles, Lamar Atkins, Raymond Attley, Damian Baker, Akeem Barton, Keith Brown, Khari Brown, Anthony Burney, Alfred Bush, Darnell Butler, Larry Byrd.
Also, Tyrone Campbell, Christopher Cadet, Zachery Cato, David Chin, Hunter Clark, Feddie Davey, L’Darrius Davis, Richard Dean, Clifford Delva, Josmar Diaz-Martinez, Jerimah Dinson, Patrick Donnell, Alonzo Faison, Rashad Fenton, Ereck Flowers.
Also, Anthony Gordon, Shaquille Green, Paston Hinzey, Edward Isidore, Duke Johnson, Charles McCall, Alex McIntosh, James McKenny, Anthony Miller, Joshuah Mincey, Khalil Murat, Shafique Neloms, Darren Owi, Larson Parvilus, Guirlin Philippe, Teko Powell.
Also, Anari Ragin, Deshawn Simpkins, Donniel Smith, Jameel Smith, Tavies Smith, LaKeith Stafford, Tommy Thomas, Tony Thomas, William Townsend, Zaquon Tyson and Treyvon Williams.
Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net
Photo: JAMES FORBES/Photos SPECIAL TO SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
SAYING THANKS: Miami Norland High School Vikings school football player Alonzo Faison thanks Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan and her colleagues for honoring the championship team in the County Commissioner Chambers in downtown Miami on Jan. 24.