Posted: 1:30 am Saturday, September 19th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
Dwyer’s defense thoroughly destroyed No. 1 Pahokee in the Panthers’ 34-6 victory at Anquan Boldin Stadium. While the Blue Devils are reeling, No. 3 Dwyer’s Week 1 loss to Glades Central seems like a distant memory. Here are five quick conversation topics from the Panthers’ big win:
1. Matt Elam is the county’s best running back, even as a part-timer. How many running backs can carry the ball 17 times and never get stopped for negative yardage? It is especially impressive that he did that against a team like Pahokee. Elam finished with 103 rushing yards. This is a tough stat to know for certain, but as far as Ican remember there were only two running backs that hit triple digits against Pahokee in 2007 and ’08 (King’s Academy’s Myles Jackson and Byrnes’ Marcus Lattimore). Plus, Elam had a run of 20+ yards called back after a Dwyer offensive lineman was flagged for illegal hands to the face. Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said he does not want to give Elam 25 carries in a game because he plays virtually every down and defense is his priority, but even with a limited load he showed that nobody runs the ball better than him.
2. Dwyer’s star defensive player next year will be DE Curt Maggitt. He might even take that honor this season. Maggitt (6-4, 210) sacked Pahokee QB De’Joshua Johnson for a 10-yard loss late in the first quarter and again in the third, blocked an extra point and returned a recovered fumble 38 yards for a touchdown. One opposing coach told me earlier this year Maggitt, a junior, is the best high school defensive lineman he has ever seen.
3. Pahokee’s state championship aspirations suddenly look questionable. Usually with Pahokee, it has been easy to write off non-district losses because the Blue Devils were the obvious favorite in their classification. That’s not the case anymore. The biggest concern is the offense. Pahokee totaled 19 points in the two games it played against quality opponents this season (Atlantic and Dwyer). The offense is loaded with BCS talent, but can’t score. The running game hardly exists. Quarterback play has been somewhere between adequate and nightmarish. The defense can keep the Blue Devils in games, but they will not be able to beat teams like Jacksonville-Bolles, Ocala-Trinity Catholic, Tampa Catholic and Miami-Monsignor Pace unless they find a solution for their offensive struggles.
4. Panthers QB Jacoby Brissett gave Dwyer exactly what it needed from that position. While his counterparts were heaving up interceptions, Brissett showed dramatic improvement. In the loss to Glades Central, he looked flustered and slow. He only threw nine times against Pahokee, but he did not risk turnovers and showed great poise in the pocket. The best example: On 2nd-and-Goal from the Pahokee 5 with 9:08 left in the second quarter, Brissett was in the shotgun. He dropped the snap, but quick picked it up and zipped a pass over the middle to Robert Clark for a touchdown. Brissett finished 5 of 9 for 85 yards and added a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:53 remaining in the game. It is also worth noting that his offensive line played much better against Pahokee than it did in Week 1.
5. The pecking order in Palm Beach County is now perfectly clear. All of the area’s top teams are forced to play each other, and the first three weeks have made it apparent where they stand. Glades Central is a decisive No. 1, followed by Dwyer, Pahokee and Atlantic. The Eagles get a shot at Dwyer in two weeks and Pahokee will take on Glades Central in the Muck Bowl, but the three-week sample size is enough to put those four teams in order with little argument.