Posted: 5:41 pm Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
By Matt Porter
Continuing the playoff previews, West Boca Raton travels to Pompano Beach, where a strong Blanche Ely squad awaits. Kickoff is Friday at 7:30 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
WEST BOCA RATON
How they qualified: District 13-4A runner-up (three teams); beat Spanish River Oct. 14
Average points per game: 20.0
Average points allowed per game: 18.9
Offense: 15th, large schools; 2,017 yards gained (910 rush, 1,107 pass)
Defense: 15th, large schools; 1,920 yards allowed (1,222 rush, 698 pass)
Offensive standouts: QB Alex Prakas (1,107 yards, 47.3 completion percentage, 7 TD, 5 INT); RB Marquis Jones (124 carries, 700 yards, 7 TD); WR Robert Lockhart (32 catches, 654 yards, 6 TD).
Defensive standouts: LB Jawand Blue (Jr., 6-1, 230); DE Corey King (Sr., 6-3, 270); LB Nick Telford (Soph., 6-0, 200).
Common opponents with Blanche Ely: None.
How they qualified: District 14-5A champions (three teams); beat Dillard Nov. 6 for title.
Average points per game: 30.0
Average points allowed per game: 14.0
Offense: 10th, Broward County; 2,731 yards gained (1,084 rush, 1,548 pass) Defense: Not available.
Offensive standouts: RB Tavarius Walker (106 carries, 637 yards, 11 touchdowns); QB Danarius Graham (1,254 yards, 54.1 completion percentage, 13 TD, 2 INT); RB/WR Darrien Allen (34 catches, 465 yards, 5 TD).
Common opponents with West Boca Raton: None.
Area teams played: None.
West Boca Raton coach Willie Dodaro compares his team’s first-round opponent, Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely, to a team that beat the Bulls by six touchdowns: Dwyer.
“You see a lot of talented athletes. A lot of skill on both sides of the ball, and they’re pretty big up front,” Dodaro said.
Ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press statewide Class 5A poll of the regular season, Ely lost its final game of the regular season, in overtime, to playoff-bound Northeast.
“They’re 8-2 because of the way they play. They move the ball around, they throw the ball very well, they have a young quarterback, a couple of tall receivers. And defensively, they have a couple big linebackers who seem to run pretty well and blitz.”
Ely won a three-team District 14-5A, which includes Boyd Anderson and Dillard, who finished 4-6 but had enough to hand Glades Central its only loss of the regular season.
“When you play a district champ out of that league, it’s pretty heavy,” Dodaro said. “We’ve got our hands full.”
According to Dodaro, West Boca’s problem is consistency. In a 28-14 loss to Palm Beach Gardens on Nov. 12, the Bulls fell behind 6-0 in the first quarter, playing “very sloppy.” In the second quarter they “played phenomenal football.” The third quarter was sloppy again. And so on.
“In each of the games we’ve lost, we had a meltdown in of the quarters,” Dodaro said. “We have some nice talent, some really skilled kids, but our problem is consistency of each quarter.”
Ely’s offense has been steady all season long. Quarterback Danarius Graham (13 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) is one of the best in Broward County, and a big reason why the Tigers put up 30 points a game. Running back Tavarius Walker (106 carries, 637 yards, 11 TD) and receiver Darrien Allen (34 catches, 465 yards, 5 TD) must also be contained.
West Boca free safety Robert Lockhart, who had 13 tackles against a stellar Olympic Heights offense, will be a key factor, as will junior middle linebacker Jawand Blue (6-1, 230). Senior defensive end Corey King (6-3, 270) can be a dominant player on the edge. Sophomore Nick Telford (6-2, 200) has played well at strongside linebacker and nose guard.
The Bulls are missing two starters on defense: junior cornerback A.J. Walters (torn ACL) and junior weakside linebacker Jimmy Mason (knee). Also, center Eric Stevens (dislocated elbow) is out for the season.
If West Boca can get its offense going, they’ll be in the game. After allowing more than a touchdown in just one of its first six games, Ely’s defense has given up an average of 24.25 points over its final four games. Bulls senior quarterback Alex Prakas (6-4, 195) has play-action options in Lockhart, a downfield threat at receiver, and junior running back Marquis Jones. Look for the Bulls to establish both facets of the attack.
Also, West Boca has a luxury item in senior kicker/punter Mauro Bondi, who has one of the strongest legs in the area.
“We were thinking at practice yesterday — what are we gonna do next year?” Dodaro said with a laugh. “We’ve been spoiled. [Opponents] don’t have kickoff returns, we don’t miss PATs, and we can at least have some breathing room when we need to kick a field goal. It’s going to be hard to replace a kid with a leg like that. They don’t come around too often.”