Posted: 5:16 pm Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
By Jeff Greer
It’s been a long month for us here at the Post, staring down a Preseason Top 25 picked before any teams had even practiced.
But after a long opening weekend, we’ve reshuffled our deck.
There were a few surprises in the first week of the 2011 season, namely Spanish River breaking its winless streak, Fort Pierce Central’s rout of rival Westwood and Glades Day’s home loss to Miami-Pace. We saw four of our top-five preseason teams play one another, and both games produced plenty of fireworks.
Here’s our revised and revamped top 10 (see rankings plus stat leaders here):
1. Glades Central (1-0)
2. American Heritage (1-0)
3. Dwyer (0-1)
4. Seminole Ridge (1-0)
5. Atlantic (0-1)
6. Fort Pierce Central (1-0)
7. Martin County (1-0)
8. Boca Raton (1-0)
9. Jupiter Christian (1-0)
10. Glades Day (0-1)
Also considered (in no particular order): Lake Worth, Park Vista, John I. Leonard, Palm Beach Gardens, West Boca Raton, Cardinal Newman, Treasure Coast.
There’s a lot to discuss about this group. So let’s start at the top. As soon as the season ended in December, Glades Central appeared to be the team to beat. American Heritage and Dwyer both added lots and lots of talent, muddying the picture. We’ll get an even better idea of where these teams rank in two weeks, when Glades Central clashes with American Heritage, but for now, Glades Central’s 24-10 win over Dwyer means the Raiders are the leaders in the clubhouse this week.
After the top three, there’s another trio waiting in the wings. Seminole Ridge and Atlantic stand pat. Here’s why: Ridge put on an impressive defensive performance against Palm Beach Central, a sleeper team that could end up breaking its playoff curse this year. The Hawks toughed out an ugly 21-6 win, and they can only get better, especially with that coaching staff. Atlantic hung with American Heritage in a spirited contest in Delray, and the Eagles have enough talent on both sides of the ball to put together an inspired season. They get a crack at Dwyer on Oct. 21.
Then we’ve got the newcomer. Boy, did we underrate Fort Pierce Central or what? The Cobras lit up Treasure Coast, a solid big-school team, in the kickoff classic, then trounced rival Westwood in the season opener. The Cobras’ offense has started the season firing on all cylinders, and the defense has only allowed 14 points combined over the spring game, kickoff classic and Week 1. They’ll get a great test against Palm Bay this week.
Another T-Coast team made the jump into the top 10: Martin County. The Tigers rushed out to a 20-0 lead on their rival South Fork before cruising to a first-week win. But they occupy the first spot in the poll where we didn’t exactly feel comfortable. We feel good about the top six, though there was debate on the ordering of Nos. 4-to-6, but 7-to-10 was a lot harder.
We’re impressed by Martin County’s senior-laden roster and offensive power but we can’t quite grasp the quality of the Tigers’ kickoff classic (Leonard) and Week 1 wins yet. We’ll know more when they play Vero Beach on Friday. We put Boca Raton in at No. 8 because we like the Bobcats’ potential on offense and we like their secondary. But they’re on a short leash — they trailed West Boca for much of Friday’s game and turned the ball over four times. They’ve got a challenge against Atlantic this week.
And rounding out the poll, we like Jupiter Christian’s senior quarterback Kedric Bostic and Glades Day’s supremely talented running back Kelvin Taylor, but we have questions about both teams’ defenses. Jupiter Christian and Glades Day might as well be even until they meet in the playoffs in November, but JCS is a spot ahead in these rankings because Glades Day lost both its kickoff classic and season opener. Their Sept. 22 showdown will help us settle that debate — until the playoffs.