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Cameron Smith

Top Florida team fires coach Billy Rolle with two games remaining

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A fascinating season at Miami Northwestern (Fla.) High School became even more intriguing over the weekend when the Bulls fired head football coach Billy Rolle. The news of Rolle's firing, which came in the aftermath of a victory over Edison (Fla.) High, was first reported by the Miami Herald's Andre Fernandez.

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Rolle, who hails from the same luminary extended football family that includes by Antrel, Myron and Samari Rolle, led the Bulls to the state and national title in his first year of a second stint at Miami Northwestern in 2007. In a 14-year career, Rolle has won three state titles at two different schools, making him the only coach in South Florida to win state titles with more than one program.

"It was a principal's decision,'' Northwestern Athletic Director Earl Allick told the Herald. "That's all I can say for now.''

Despite his earlier success, Rolle's fourth season at the helm has seen Northwestern -- which is currently ranked No. 67 in the RivalsHigh 100 -- withstand its share of problems after entering the season with lofty aspirations of another state title, and possibly even a run at the top of the RivalsHigh 100. Instead, Northwestern was upended by both Miami Central and Miami Columbus -- both of which are highly ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 -- and lost star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a knee injury.

The Bulls season was also marked by a benches-clearing brawl between Northwestern players and their Hialeah opponents. Four players were ejected from the game after the scuffle, and a number of other Northwestern players -- many of them seniors and starters -- were handed one-game suspensions for leaving the team's bench during the melee.

Bridgewater could return as soon as this weekend's game, but that wasn't quick enough to save Rolle's team some embarrassment from a 19-7 victory over Edison on Saturday. The Bulls won, but were put under significantly more duress than expected throughout.

Now, with only two games remaining in Northwestern's regular season, an assistant coach from the school's junior varsity squad has been promoted to take over the team on an interim basis. The Herald reported that Monte Dilworth would serve as head coach for the remainder of the 2010 season. Whether he lasts longer than that remains to be seen.

The man who reportedly pulled the trigger on Rolle's firing is a significant athletic figure himself. Miami Northwestern principal Charles Hankerson Sr. was a four-year basketball player at Hampton who is better known as the father of Charles Hankerson Jr., a highly decorated high school player in Florida while leading Coral Reed High School to its first state title in 2009. Hankerson Jr. currently plays for Alabama.

While neither Hankerson Sr. or Allick will comment publicly on the reasons for Rolle's firing, speculation will be rife about what was truly behind the move. In addition to the the brawl and team's losses to Miami Central and Miami Columbus, there was concern just before National Signing Day last year that a long treasured recruiting relationship between Miami Northwestern and the University of Miami might be turning sour. Those concerns seem to be alleviated by this year's recruiting class, which includes Bridgewater's commitment to the Hurricanes.

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