Posted: 12:50 pm Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
By Jeff Greer
There are 18 playoff games across every class involving teams from our area. This week, Matt and I will break down every matchup.
Let’s head out to the muck, where second-ranked Glades Central starts yet another quest for a state title. The first opponent standing in the Raiders’ way? Fort Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons.
Glades Central won District 7-2A and is feeling pretty good after one of the most lopsided Muck Bowl wins in history, a 58-0 rout at Pahokee. Cardinal Gibbons is a noticeable underdog, but the Chiefs should not be underestimated. Kickoff is set for 7:30. Admission is $7.
BY THE NUMBERS
How they qualified: Won District 7-2A
Average points per game: 37.9
Average points allowed per game: 8.4
Offensive yardage totals: 3,267 (1,168 rushing, 2,099 passing)
Offensive stars: QB Jamarious Rowley (1,912 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 60.1% completion percentage), WR Jaime Wilson (32 catches, 480 yards, 8 touchdowns), WR Jaqavein Oliver (18 receptions, 319 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns) WR Davonte Allen (13 receptions, 342 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns), RB Aaron Baker (24 carries, 159 yards, 4 touchdowns in the past 3 games)
Defensive stars: DE Robert Way (83 tackles, 9 sacks), LB Jatavis Brown (104 tackles, 7 sacks), LB Dominique Gibson (69 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, 1 interception), CB William Likely (3 interceptions)
Common opponents with Cardinal Gibbons: None.
How they qualified: District 8-2A runner-up to Plantation-American Heritage
Average points per game: 20.9
Average points allowed per game: 17.1
Offensive yardage totals: 2,235 (1,392 rushing, 843 passing)
Offensive stars: Central Michigan commit and RB Denzel Wimberly (784 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns), WR Jack Crittenberger (35 receptions, 349 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns)
Defensive stars: Duke-bound DB Tim Burton (2 interceptions), LB Erick Hallmon (led defense that forced 22 turnovers)
Area opponents: None.
Glades Central has what a lot of teams wish they had: the ability to overcome the occasional offensive lapse. The Raiders’ defense has emerged as coach Jessie Hester‘s best asset this season. His team shut out five of its 10 opponents this year, swarming rushing attacks and daring opponents to throw the ball. In fact, Glades Central only allows 123.4 yards of offense per game. You can expect that to continue as the Raiders’ young defense keeps blossoming in the playoffs.
By this time next year, everyone in Florida will know about Glades Central’s two junior linebackers, Dominique Gibson and Jatavis Brown, if they don’t already. Both ‘backers go sideline-to-sideline, and they get into the backfield at will. Gibson has fantastic hands and does well in coverage; Brown gets to the quarterback quickly. Of course, the team-first linebackers always mention their defensive line, and for good reason. Defensive end Robert Way and defensive tackle Delbert Clarke, among others, have played a major role in Glades Central’s stifling of the run. The Raiders allow a measly 60.5 rushing yards a contest.
And if the running game is squelched, teams will have to throw at sophomore William Likely, who has quickly become a star, and juniors John Brockman and Crevon LeBlanc. Senior Tyrone Page adds depth to a secondary that gives up 62.9 passing yards a game.
“Our defense is really young,” Glades Central quarterback Jamarious Rowley said after his team’s 58-0 Muck Bowl win over Pahokee. “But we know if we get into a hole, they’ll come out and help us. It keeps us confidence even if we’re struggling.”
Cardinal Gibbons runs the spread offense, and running back Denzel Wimberly is the focal point. Wimberly is tough to tackle, and he’s at his best outside the tackles and in the open field. So, the onus is on that Glades Central front to move east to west and keep Wimberly in check.
“They use a lot of movement with their slot receiver (Tim Burton) and run a lot of jet sweeps with him,” Hester said. “(Wimberly) is a real physical kid with size and speed. I mean, they’re a real solid football team.”
On the other side of the ball, Rowley has some help. Sure, he struggled mightily in the opening few series against Pahokee, starting 0 for 8 with a pick. The senior QB does have that tendency — coming out a little too excited in big games and overthrowing his receivers. But he also calms down when he needs to, and he has all kinds of weapons to make his life a little easier.
“I came out a little bit rusty, because I always get caught up in the moment,” Rowley said. “Playing quarterback, you have to be the calmest person on the field. When I get myself with that, I am more accurate. You can’t rush things, you can’t let the crowd get into your head.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage Glades Central’s offense has now is the emergence of sophomore running back Aaron Baker, who along with Likely and Neville Brown has provided a huge spark for the Raiders. Baker has scored four touchdowns in three games. Likely has been just as big — he’s had 19 carries and 130 yards in the past two games.
The benefit of having Likely, Baker and Brown running the ball effectively is simple — Hester said it calms Rowley down and gets yardage in chunks. With Likely and Brown’s speed, they’re dangerous taking handoffs from the shotgun. They have the ability to shed the initial pursuer in the backfield, and their quickness can erase any advantage the defense has from seeing the ball handed off a few yards in the backfield. They have the cutback ability and outside speed to make running out of that shotgun formation look easy, and the threat of a quick-strike pass opens up gaping holes for draw plays and counters. Baker has emerged as more of a punishing back with downhill running ability.
“It allows us to get into the flow of things offensively,” Hester said. “(Rowley) tends to struggle early in the game and the run game gets him settled down by making plays down the field. For us, that’s a huge plus.”
Against Cardinal Gibbons, that running game will be especially important. The Chiefs run a lot of Cover 2 and Cover 4 defenses, with preventing big plays as their top priority. That will help them limit Glades Central’s obvious big-play capabilities with receivers like Jaime Wilson, Davonte Allen, Jaqavein Oliver, tight end Robert Way and others.
“We anticipate more of that (prevent coverage) because of our vertical game, so we have to take advantage of that in the running game,” Hester said.
But look out. Hester said his offense has been “pretty vanilla” this year. He plans on opening up the playbook for the playoffs.
“We’re gonna let it all hang out,” Hester said.