Posted: 7:37 pm Monday, October 4th, 2010

West Boca’s defense has Bulls thinking home-field advantage 

By Jeff Greer

When there are only three teams in a district, one game makes all the difference in the standings. That’s why West Boca coach Willie Dodaro called his team’s Friday night showdown with Wellington District 13-5A’s Super Bowl.

With Spanish River (0-5) struggling again this season, the odds are that both West Boca and Wellington will make the playoffs. But winning the district means playing a home game to start the state playoffs, and that can make a big difference.

West Boca got that message loud and clear on Sept. 10, when Vero Beach’s buzzing crowd made for an unpleasant atmosphere during a 21-7 Bulls loss. It was their only loss this season.

“Vero has tradition and a great following,” Dodaro said. “It’s tough to play games in an environment like that.”

Since then, seventh-ranked West Boca (3-1) has righted the ship and is back on track for that all-important home playoff game. The Bulls have won two straight, including a 42-12 road win at John I. Leonard, its first win away from home. The Bulls forced six Leonard turnovers and shut the Lancers out in the second half.

That type of defensive performance typifies a West Boca win this year. Dodaro, who grew up in Pittsburgh and still roots for the Steelers, wants his defense to swarm and his offense to smash its way down field, just like his hometown team.

It’s working so far.

In their three wins, the Bulls have allowed just 21 points, using a 4-3 front and lots of movement to confuse opposing offenses. 

“I want 11 guys around the ball,” Dodaro said. “I want to see 11 guys in that film frame.”

On offense, the Bulls run the ball to throw it, with speedy Marquis Jones and Antaurius Walters powering the ground game. Once the pass is set up, West Boca’s Alex Prakas-to-Robert Lockhart connection is as good as any in the area.

Prakas has three touchdown passes, all to Lockhart. Lockhart, who is a standout basketball player, has 13 catches for 233 yards, good for 17.9 yards per reception.

That spells trouble for Wellington’s porous defense, which allows 304 yards per game (173 rushing/131 passing). Wellington (1-4) gives up 27 points a game. What’s worse, the Wolverines only score 9.6 a contest and have four offensive touchdowns in five games.

When you put a sluggish offense up against a swarming D, the result is usually lopsided. But Wellington (1-4) has to hope last week’s 11-9 win over Palm Beach Lakes can change things — quickly.

Otherwise, the District 13-5A Super Bowl will look a lot like the Steelers’s 38-6 win over the Bucs a few weeks ago: Ugly. Still, Dodaro wants to make sure his team shows up and plays the way it can. After all, a Friday night game in November under the West Boca lights is at stake.

“This is the game,” Dodaro said. “You have to have all your marbles in one place. We have to be able to do our jobs.”