Parker expecting big things from new routine Wellington to make state final debut
MIAMI BEACH — Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker is aware that offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said he sees a hungrier, more dedicated Parker this offseason.
“He’s not lying to you,” Parker said Thursday at the Fins Weekend golf tournament at Miami Beach Country Club.
“I’m just tired of just being hurt and not healthy a full season, [so] expect some big things this year.
Parker, the 2015 firstround pick, has been slowed by foot and hamstring injuries in both of his seasons with the Dolphins. He admitted it’s been a frustrating experience.
Although he posted career bests in receptions (56), yards (744) and touchdowns (four) last year, Parker wants to do better, so he’s changed his offseason routine.
“I’m just really focused in the weight room on leg workouts mainly,” he said. “I still do upper body but I justwant to do legs, getmy hamstrings right for the season.”
And Parker said he’ll be driven by the frustration of the previous two years to stay on course to be better this year.
“I’ve basically been injured the whole time I’ve been here, basically,” he said, “and I’m finally coming in this year with a different approach.”
T.J. McDonald, the Dolphins’ newly acquired safety, must sit out the first eight games of the 2017 season due to a NFL suspension. But McDonald, whocutsanimpressive figure at 6 feet 2, 217 pounds, said he can’t wait to team with fellow safety Reshad Jones, who is a well built 6-1, 214 pounds.
“He’s a lot bigger than I thoughthewaswhenI saw him,” McDonald said Friday. “I didn’t knowhowbig he was. But us two together back there that’s pretty big, that’s a lot of hits.”
McDonald’s suspension comes from a violation of the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. He pleaded guilty in January to one misdemeanor count of reckless driving involving drugs or alcohol following a May 2016 arrest in California.
McDonald has started all 53 games he’s played in his career, and last season he posted 64 tackles and two interceptions.
Coach Adam Gase, whose defense ranked 29th in the NFL last year, said he likes the possibilities with McDonald and Jones.
“Both guys are able to either be down in the box or back in the middle of the field,” Gase said, “so so anytime you’ve got interchangeable pieces that’s a good thing to have.”
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who received a fifth-year option worth about $8 million for 2017 from the Dolphins, said he didn’t stress over whether he’d get the deal.
“Man, thatwas never on my mind, honestly,” he said Friday. “I’m just worried about this year and the team and building off wherewewere last year.”
The Dolphins’ 2016 playoff berth earned them four national TV games in 2017. It’s also doing good things for season ticket sales.
“We expect to be sold out of our available season tickets by probably early August,” said team president and CEO Tom Garfinkel. “In terms of ticket sales, usually this year’s performance affects next year’s sales more. We had sold probably 90, 95 percent of the tickets before we played a game last year. It’ll be the same thing this year, and we expect to be sold out in every game.”
chperkins@sunsentinel .com, Twitter@Chrisperk
VERO BEACH The Wolverines never expected to get here.
That’s what made moment so incredible.
Wellington will play for its first state softball championship Saturday. The Class 9A Wolverines took care of that Friday by coming back from a one-run deficit to defeat Plant City 6-1 at Historic Dodgertown.
Wellington will play Orange Park Oakleaf, a 10-0 winner over St. Thomas Aquinas, on Saturday at 5:35 p.m.
“Oh my God, this is awesome,” Wellington sophomore Katie Schmidt said. “This is whatwe allworked so hard for. At the beginning of the year, we had no expectations. We just came out, we got so far and we wanted to do something for our school.”
Schmidt certainly did her part, driving in the tying run in the fourth inning and then hitting a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning that saw the Wolverines break the game open.
“I went up there and I was just [thinking] I need to get something started,” Schmidt said. “We needed to start something. Wewere kind of dead in the beginning. I was like, ‘I want to start something for our team this time.’”
What Schmidt started, Kate Desimone finished.
The freshman pitcher struck out six and gave up four hits to help theWolverines to an historic victory.
“It’s crazy,” Desimone said. “I never expected this to ever happen, and now we’re going to the championship game. We were happy just to be here today.” the
As well as she pitched, it wasDesimonewhobrought the Wellington crowd to a roar, racing home on a bunt by Cat Glenn to score the go-ahead run.
After Plant City took a1-0 lead in the second, Wellington coachMark Boretti said he had one message for his team.
“I just tried to tell them, ‘loosen up, loosen up,’ ” Boretti said. “We got the one run [in the fourth] but that next inningwas the big one. We put some runs on the board and we did, we played loose.
“We did a little small ball, and I’m not a small ball guy, but we did it and it worked. We got some runs and now we go to the championship [game], the first time ever for Wellington High School.”
A 10-0 defeat certainly wasn’t the result the St. Thomas Aquinas softball team was looking for out of Friday’s state semifinals, but the Raiders were still able to take away something very valuable: Experience. Orange Park Oakleaf proved simply too much for the young RaidersonFriday afternoon, advancing to the Class 8A title game with a shutout victory at Historic Dodgertown.
But considering St. Thomas Aquinas’ roster is loaded with five freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors and only four seniors— Kaylei Wilcox, Kendall Richardson, Alley Masocco and Lindsay Gehring – there is plenty to build on for the future.
“I’m proud of these kids,” Raiders coach Bryan Baucomsaid.“had an upand-downyear. We’ve had a lot of games where we played like today— a couple of errors here and there, they get a couple of bloop hits and things happen.
“But we went on a little run there. We grew up a little bit. We’ve got a lot of youngkidsandthis is a good experience for them coming up here.”
Madison Santana and Kristen Sacca had the only two hits of the day for the Raiders, who also committed five errors and left five runners on base.
The game was a rematch of last year’s state semifinal that sawthe Raiders get the win. Friday was a chance for Oakleaf to get a little revenge.
Kate Desimone slides home safely with the go-ahead run as part of a five-run fifth to helpWellington beat Plant City.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker has been slowed by injures in both of his seasons with the Dolphins.