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Coach's Take: Homestead Interim Head Coach Ahmad Ward

Coach's Take: Homestead Interim Head Coach Ahmad Ward

Peter Ariz
I was able to have a conversation with Homestead Interim Head Coach Ahmad Ward tonight and he spoke about the rise to his current position, broke down the state of their program, gave some info on some of their prospects, and talked about what lies ahead.

Q: Talk about your coaching background and how you’ve gotten to the point you’re at now.

Coach Ward: I first got into high school coaching in 2006 at Miami Norland Senior High under coach Nigel Dunn. He taught me basically everything I know about coaching. I spent three seasons with them and when he left to Miami Jackson, I left to Homestead and coached under Bobby McCray for two seasons, and then one season I coached under Pat Burrows at Southridge and then we reunited again at Homestead Senior High last season. He (Burrows) got his promotion to be the assistant principal, so the school awarded me the interim head coach position. I have coached receivers, tight ends, and running backs. Five of the seven years have been with running backs.

Q: When will you know if you will retain the head coaching position?

Ward: Hopefully by June 7th by the time the school year is over. We have a new principal and of course he has to open it up to do the interviewing, but the plan is to keep the coaching staff together. I’ve already been showing as the interim head coach that the team can function and do well so hopefully we will know by June 7th.

Q: How long have you held the position of Interim Head Coach?

Ward: Unofficially, I’ve had the position since January since we kinda knew that Patrick Burrows was going to be taking that next step, so he was training me and preparing me for this. I wasn’t awarded the position officially until last Thursday.

Q: What is your main philosophy as a coach?

Ward: My main philosophy is to get the kids to always go hard As long as you always go 100%, nine times out of ten you will be successful. Whether it’s stretching or running gassers, I want them going 100%.

Q: What kind of progression did you see from the team this Spring?

Ward: Last season we had a taste of almost making the playoffs, so that has pushed the returning kids to go even harder. Last spring and summer they worked hard, but there were some obstacles along the way. This year, they worked hard all the way. Our quarterback Maurice Alexander goes to the park with Ermon Lane and some of the other receivers to work on timing routes without even being asked.

Q: Was there something in particular that you focused on with them this Spring that you saw as a weakness last season?

Ward: Our conditioning. The season kind of wore on us last year since we had a small team as far as number of players and it looks like we will have about 35 again this season. Some players will have to play both ways, so we focused more on conditioning and getting stronger. In the two games this spring, I’ve seen a big difference.

Q: Talk about the offensive scheme change that you guys are making for this season and how do you think it will benefit this group of players?

Ward: It benefits a lot because Maurice Alexander (2016 QB) and Antonio Calloway (2015 ATH), we call him ‘AD’, they played for the Florida City Razorbacks and their offensive coordinator when they played there is our coordinator now. Last year we were a Wing-T, so it was something different for them. We had some success out of it and Ermon Lane had success, but it was just something different from what they were used to. Lane was apart of a spread offense his first two years. It’s a pro-style type of spread and they’re just more comfortable with it.

Q: Your team will be coming into the season with high expectations, so what is your coaching staff doing to make sure they stay level-headed?

Ward: That’s one thing we talk about. We try to be humble. Every year, the coaches try to come up with a motto for the team and this year we’re going with ‘first class and family’. In a family, one person can’t think they’re better than another. We’re not putting any pressure on them because they know the goal is to get to the state championship.

Q: Antonio Calloway (2015) is a player who has stepped up for you guys this Spring and impressed. Where was he last season and how has he emerged?

Ward: He’s kind of had a chip on his shoulder since 9th grade because he was working out here, but he was supposed to move and stopped coming to workouts, but the move did not happen and he came back in the summer. He missed some workouts, had to put him on J.V. but he didn’t cry about it and worked hard, didn’t miss any workouts. He came in this spring saying ‘I shouldn’t have been on J.V.’ and has worked real hard. He hasn’t missed a workout. UF came to our practice two and a half weeks ago and they wanted to see somebody competitive go up against Ermon Lane so he stepped up at corner and UF was really surprised by him. They asked us what he played and we told them receiver and a little running, but that we were thinking about playing him some at DB and UF said ‘That kid’s a DB.’ He’s our backup quarterback, kick returner; he does a little bit of everything for us. He’s that kind of athlete.

Q: Everybody knows about Ermon Lane’s ability, size, speed, and all of that, but as someone who is around him everyday how would you describe him?

Ward: I have been around some kids that have performed well at the high school level, even someone like Xavier Rhodes that was just drafted in the first round. I compare Ermon to Xavier. Both had high school success and had a little bit of swag to them. Ermon is very quiet if he doesn't know you. For someone with all that hoopla around him, he’s very quiet and humble. When were together and out, he’s not the type of kid that says ‘I’m Ermon Lane. I’m number one, hook me up.’ He always talks about his mom and grandma, that’s the type of kid he is.

Q: What kind of improvements have you seen from him?

Ward: He sees room for improvement in himself. He’s been working on the little things like coming out of his stance, breaking out of his pattern. He listens. At first it was tough for him, but he’s worked on it and he realizes he needs to continue to improve if he wants to be able to play at the next level.

Q: With recruiting, does he have some schools sticking out right now?

Ward: The schools that he talks about around me, and I can’t lie to you because I really have no clue where his head is at, but he talks about four schools around me. Of course he talks about UM because that’s his hometown school and he grew up loving them. He talks about Alabama because they were the first SEC school to offer him and everybody likes a winner and he’s also very close to Amari Cooper. He loves UF. He took a visit there and came back very impressed. I don’t know what they did to him, but he’s very impressed by them. USC is also in the picture. Coach Tee Martin came by and spoke to him and he’s going out there on an unofficial visit and camp on June 24th. So those are the ones he really talks about around me.

Q: I know you guys have a nationally televised game against University School this season, but are there any other games you are looking forward to in particular?

Ward: Our district is very tough with games against Norland, Central, Northwestern, and Carol City. Our main goal is to go undefeated there. Our rival since 1979 is South Dade even though they’re not in our district. A lot of those kids from South Dade grew up and went to elementary school with our kids and some of them stay by each other. That’s a game that people always circle, but at the end of the day, the playoff game is the most important one.

Q: Having worked up at Norland and also down south, do you see any differences between the types of kids that come out of each school?

Ward: From my experience at Norland and also Southridge and Homestead, I don’t see much of a difference from the type of kids we have. I see the same hunger, the same goals. The only difference is that the kids at Homestead are a little bigger naturally, but another difference to is coaching. It’s tougher to get good coaching down south. When I was at Norland, we had 15 coaches on staff, but when I got to Homestead, we barely had six so that is a little hindrance.
 

Comments (28)

I assume this was a good article, but I can do no more than assume since all I did was CTRL+F Ermon Lane.
 
I assume this was a good article, but I can do no more than assume since all I did was CTRL+F Ermon Lane.

I know most will do this, and that's fine, but I also know that there are big fans of South Florida football who are interested in what he has to say about the team and program. I try to cater to what everyone wants.
 
Good article. Gonna be tough goin to work against guys in that district with 35 guys. Interested to see the new offense.
 
Great job Pete I would love to read interviews from every head coach in that district
 
Great job Pete. I love interviews like this. No other site goes in depth with the coaches down there. At least as far as I know.


It's a long recruiting year. It can't always be all about the star players like Ermon Lane. There just isn't always news on these kids. Especially this time of year. Besides, there was some info on Lane in there.


As nice as this dude sounds, I'd love to see Donnell Bennett get that gig. IDK what the chances of that are but I'd like to see a Cane back coaching in Dade. He's already Golden for sending us Coley. If he can get that gig and help get Lane here too, he deserves a statue.
 
Great job Pete. I love interviews like this. No other site goes in depth with the coaches down there. At least as far as I know.


It's a long recruiting year. It can't always be all about the star players like Ermon Lane. There just isn't always news on these kids. Especially this time of year. Besides, there was some info on Lane in there.


As nice as this dude sounds, I'd love to see Donnell Bennett get that gig. IDK what the chances of that are but I'd like to see a Cane back coaching in Dade. He's already Golden for sending us Coley. If he can get that gig and help get Lane here too, he deserves a statue.

hell yes
 
I know its a long ways to go but I got this strange feeling about Bama and Lane, hopefully Cooper has a terrible season and the tide.
 
I read the whole thing Peter !
 
D
I assume this was a good article, but I can do no more than assume since all I did was CTRL+F Ermon Lane.

Lane is leaving S FL as of right now IMO. If your anus isnt prepared, it should be.
 
Pete...that was actually pretty good.

And you should classify this as high praise, because I really, really don't like you.
 
I assume this was a good article, but I can do no more than assume since all I did was CTRL+F Ermon Lane.

Lane is leaving S FL as of right now IMO. If your anus isnt prepared, it should be.


Well "as of right now" it's still May. Alot of questions recruits have about The U should be cleared up by signing day.


Lane obviously likes Bama. That's because they're winning and Cooper is there balling out. I think it's more about the success though. If Cooper wasn't there, he would still be interested.


Winning cures alot of things and IMO, this would be one of them.


I wish I could sat the NCAA crap will be cleared up by then, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's not cleared up by 2017. The recruiting this staff is doing with this monkey on their backs is nothing short of spectacular. Winning big can also put this in the back of recruits minds. Losing just compounds the issue.
 
Why do you think the kids at Homestead are bigger than at the other schools he's mentioned?

Maybe big farmboys?
 
good read, I like Homestead seems there staff likes us too
 
I assume this was a good article, but I can do no more than assume since all I did was CTRL+F Ermon Lane.

Lane is leaving S FL as of right now IMO. If your anus isnt prepared, it should be.


Well "as of right now" it's still May. Alot of questions recruits have about The U should be cleared up by signing day.


Lane obviously likes Bama. That's because they're winning and Cooper is there balling out. I think it's more about the success though. If Cooper wasn't there, he would still be interested.


Winning cures alot of things and IMO, this would be one of them.


I wish I could sat the NCAA crap will be cleared up by then, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's not cleared up by 2017. The recruiting this staff is doing with this monkey on their backs is nothing short of spectacular. Winning big can also put this in the back of recruits minds. Losing just compounds the issue.

A BCS bowl would be the closest thing to locking up Lane and other prospects would take a serious look such as Cook and believe or not Michel.
 

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Nashville, TN
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Miami, FL
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185
Mandeville, LA
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210
Manvel, TX
OT
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275
Sandersville, GA

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