Miami Herald

Joseph leads Central to new heights, earns Miami-Dade coach of year nod for 2M-1M

- BY DAVID WILSON dbwilson@miamiheral­

Jube Joseph replaced a legend last year when Roland Smith, one of the most successful coaches in Florida history, left Miami Central to take a job with the Miami Hurricanes.

But Joseph and Central didn’t think about it as a major change for one of the best programs in the state. After three years as the Rockets’ defensive coordinato­r, Joseph knew exactly what it would take to keep Central’s dynasty rolling.

He even led them to new heights.

It’s all why Joseph, in his first year as coach, is the Miami Herald’s Miami-Dade County Football Coach of the Year for Classes 2M-1M.

The Rockets won their fourth straight state title —their Dade Countyreco­rd ninth Florida High School Athletic Associatio­n championsh­ip, all claimed in the past 13 seasons — and won a national top-10 showdown with Plantation American Heritage in the Class 2M championsh­ip to get it.

The win last month in Fort Lauderdale also solidified Central as the national champion, according to NationalHS­ It’s the Rockets’ first national championsh­ip, the crowning achievemen­t for the South Florida football juggernaut.

“That was our goal coming into the spring — adjusting that bar,” Joseph said. “At Central, state championsh­ips have basically become mandatory . ... Now we were like, we need to reassess what’s going on in order for us to actually do the small intangible things to become a national power, national champion.

“It’s one thing to be a national contender. It’s another thing to be a national power, national champion.”

A decade of success with Smith at the helm set Joseph up nicely. At the start of Smith’s tenure,

the Rockets won four state championsh­ips in a row and then the former coach left for UM last year with Central in the middle of a similar run.

The Rockets had star quarterbac­k Keyone Jenkins

coming back for his third year as a starter and star defensive lineman Rueben Bain coming back after setting Central’s single-season sacks record, and at least another dozen future Division

I players surroundin­g them. It would’ve been hard for the Rockets not to be great this season.

Joseph, though, elevated them to something different. In 2021, Central began the year with back-to-back losses to St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California, and Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman in Naples, derailing the Rockets’ national-title hopes early. A year later, Central began the season with a stunning road upset of Bradenton IMG Academy and it propelled the Rockets to their longelusiv­e national crown.

Central finished the year at No. 2 in MaxPreps’ national rankings and was the highest ranked undefeated team in the country.

“It mostly allowed us to see where we stood on a national scale and also see what needs to be adjusted,” Joseph said of the two losses to start 2020. “Should we change our approach to go more so to a national dynamic?”

In some ways, Joseph was the perfect leader to get the Rockets to the next level nationally.

As a familiar voice, Joseph kept all the stability Central needed, and added another layer of discipline and enthusiasm. Whereas Smith’s mastery was in getting the most out of his assistant coaches by letting them all coach relatively autonomous­ly, Joseph’s gift is his ability to simultaneo­usly be a players’ coach and a disciplina­rian — he’s a screamer, but his players also love his antics.

He’s also a defensive mastermind, proven by his work as a coordinato­r, and again turning a defense loaded with underclass­men into a championsh­ip unit.

Everything the Rockets’ defense was for three years, the entire team is now.

“It really was more so just allowing me to do my thing,” Joseph said, “program-wide.”

 ?? AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ ?? Jube Joseph, in his first year as Central’s head coach, led the Rockets to their fourth consecutiv­e state title.
AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ Jube Joseph, in his first year as Central’s head coach, led the Rockets to their fourth consecutiv­e state title.

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