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South Dade makes history with first State championship

Akilah Laster | 12/19/2013, 9 a.m.
Senior Buccaneerss Mario Mezier (L), C.J. Worton and Kahlil Render (R) sport gold medals after championship. Photo by Akilah Laster

Making history is enough to bring tears to even the sternest of eyes. Just ask South Dade coach Nathaniel Hudson, Jr. whose sideline demeanor is typically poised and stoic.

There were more than remnants from the ceremonial Gatorade-bath running down his face Saturday night as his Buccaneers (14-1) brought home the first state championship in the school’s 60 year history. The Bucs defeated reigning Class 8A state champions Apopka High School 41-28 in their first trip ever to the Citrus Bowl.

“I’m very emotional right now, it’s been 60 years,” Hudson said. “Every positive word you can use to describe it. I’m at a loss for words.”

Hudson, in his second year, did what no other South Dade coach has been able to do. Not even his father, Nathaniel Hudson, Sr., who coached for two decades at South Dade.

“I was there 20 years and didn’t do it and I’m so proud of him,” said Hudson Sr., who has been on the sideline for every game. “All of my sons are coaching together and it is really nice to see.”

Hudson credits his father for his success as a coach.

“My dad laid the foundation,” Hudson said. “He set the tone for everything with the way he raised me.”

Family has been the driving force for more than just Hudson. Dade County’s top receiver C.J. Worton, who scored three touchdowns Saturday, sported his gold medal proudly for his two brothers who were also top receivers for South Dade.

“It’s incredible my words are getting jumbled up because I’m so excited,” said Worton, a Florida State commit.

“What can you say about him? Hudson asked. “The DNA on the field speaks for itself.”

Worton’s older brother, J.J., who was in the stands Saturday, is a premier receiver for University of Central Florida and the eldest, Cody, was a safety at University of Florida during the Tim Tebow days. However, neither of his brothers’ teams made it beyond the third round of the layoffs.

“I was the one who finally won it,” Worton said. “Now I can tell [my brothers] that.”

Worton’s success was largely due to quarterback Kahlil Render, who finished the year with 44 touchdowns. An undersold collegiate prospect, Render was 16-of-20 on passing against the Blue Darters (13-2).

“If [colleges] want me, I’m ready,” said Render, who dedicated his season to his mother who is battling breast cancer. “If feels great that we made history.”