Posted: 1:10 am Sunday, November 15th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
A big second half propelled Glades Central to its second straight Muck Bowl win over Pahokee. The Raiders are now 17-8 all-time in this game. Here are five quick points on the biggest game of the season:
1. Find me a better QB-WR combo than L.J. Thomas and Greg Dent.Neither of these guys is the prototypical player for their position, but you can’t dispute their results. A perfect example was Thomas’ completion to Dent near halftime, when Thomas dropped back exactly 23 yards and fired a pass into triple coverage – which, of course, Dent jumped up and caught for a 30-yard gain. Dent supposedly is too short (5-11) and too slow (4.6 in the 40) to play WR in college, while Thomas is considered a project at best. Well, against a team with 10 BCS prospects, Dent caught six passes for 185 yards and a TD, plus an 84-yd kick return for a TD, and Thomas completed 16 of 21 throws for 382 yards and three touchdown passes, plus a 15-yard touchdown run. You don’t have to like how it looks, but you can’t knock what this duo has accomplished.
2. The value of Fred Pickett and Chris Dunkley was evident in their absences.Pickett and Dunkley, who transferred into Pahokee from Glades Central and Royal Palm Beach, respectively, have been two of the Blue Devils’ biggest playmakers this year. Some would say their top two, period. Early in the year, when Pahokee’s run game struggled, I was surprised they didn’t use Pickett in the backfield more often. Eventually they did, and he entered this week with 1,107 rushing yards. Pickett was off to a good start (six carries for 35 yards and a TD) before he left the game in the second quarter with an apparent concussion. Dunkley, who missed all of Pahokee’s practices this week with a hamstring injury, appeared to reinjure it in the second quarter and was basically done for the game. He came back in the fourth quarter, but was limping and clearly not himself. Pickett’s progress in the running game and Dunkley’s threat as a vertical receiver have been the key factors in Pahokee’s offensive success. Without those two for the second half, the Blue Devils did not score a point and managed just 2.3 yards per play on offense. Credit the exceptional Glades Central defense, definitely, but most teams will struggle when they lose two of their best offensive players.
3. Glades Central’s offensive line still looks suspect, but is much better than it was early in the year. The real problem for the Raiders was settling on five starters. Once they got those five in place, they have been improving weekly. That unit played decently against a very strong Pahokee front, but it allowed the Blue Devils to sack L.J. Thomas three times and he had pressure in his face most of the night. Meanwhile, the running game (which looked nonexistent in September) seems serviceable. Antwon Chisholm is still taking too many handoffs out of the shotgun to be as effective as he wants to be, but he averaged 5.1 yards per carry vs. Pahokee. The farther Glades Central goes in the playoffs, the more the offensive line’s performance will be magnified. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
4. I’ve never understood why Pahokee puts in its back-up quarterback when things get desperate. This is the third time I’ve seen the Blue Devils do this in the past two years (’08 and ’09 losses to Glades Central, ’08 loss to Dwyer). When they get desperate, they go to an inexperienced back-up quarterback. I’ve never seen another team do that. Emanuel Perez has a big arm and ultimately could be the Blue Devils’ starter next season as a junior, but right now he is a liability at quarterback. Here are his combined numbers against Atlantic, Dwyer, Palm Beach Lakes and Glades Central: 13 for 33, 119 yards, two touchdowns, four picks. But when things break bad for Pahokee, Perez comes in at quarterback and De’Joshua Johnson moves out to receiver. It never works.
5. Glades Central’s kicking game could be a problem later. Right now, the Raiders are so much better than their opponents that they could just skip point-after attempts, but that won’t necessarily be the case as the playoffs advance. Against Pahokee, Raiders kicker Antione Dalfice missed two extra points and had a 26-yd field goal blocked (Merrill Noel returned it for a touchdown). None of that is relevant when you win 47-21, but if the Raiders get into a close game, they will regret giving away easy points. If the kicking game is really this bad, the coaching staff needs to recognize it and just start going for two every time. That might sound a little unorthodox, but going for two looked like more of a high-percentage proposition than kicking Saturday.
6. This game is big enough it deserves a sixth fast thought. There was a great moment when both teams gathered at midfield to pray after the game. Pahokee defensive coordinator Rick Lammons praised both sides for playing a clean game and not taking cheap shots at each other. Each team surpassed 100 penalty yards, but for the most part, it was a reasonably clean game. Lammons said it made him proud to see that the two communities could co-exists and encouraged Glades Central to charge hard toward the state championships in Orlando. “We want you guys to do your thing and go to state,” Lammons said. “And we’re going to do our best to meet you there.”