Posted: 3:21 pm Monday, September 19th, 2011

Inside the Week 3 rankings 

By Jeff Greer

Glades Central and American Heritage firmly cemented their status as the top two teams in the area after Thursday night’s instant classic, which Central won in overtime.

Beyond that, it’s pretty hard to separate the pretenders from the contenders.

Here’s the list:

1. Glades Central (3-0) — idle
2. American Heritage (1-1) — at King’s Academy
3. Fort Pierce Central (3-0) — idle
4. Dwyer (2-1) — at Spanish River
5. Atlantic (2-1) — at Santaluces
6. Palm Beach Central (2-1) — vs. Royal Palm Beach
7. Park Vista (3-0) — idle
8. Palm Beach Gardens (2-1) — at Jupiter
9. Seminole Ridge (1-2) — at Wellington
10. Jupiter Christian (3-0) — vs. Glades Day (at Dwyer on Saturday at 6)
Also considered: John I. Leonard, Spanish River, Glades Day, Cardinal Newman, Martin County.

Fort Pierce Central leads all area schools in scoring, averaging 42 points over three games. Now, the main caveat is, the Cobras have put up such gaudy numbers against weak competition in two of those games. They needed overtime to beat a good Palm Bay team, and it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against Vero Beach in two weeks. But for now, no one is scoring like Fort Pierce Central, and it held firm in the No. 3 spot because of that.

Dwyer stays at No. 4 despite another shaky performance on offense. The Panthers’ defense has been ferocious since Day 1, and it looked very good against Seminole Ridge, a team we dropped to ninth but couldn’t leave out. That’s what’s difficult about rankings. Do we really believe that Seminole Ridge would lose to Jupiter Christian (No. 10) or the teams we left out of this week’s rankings? Right now, we don’t. If the Hawks keep struggling, that’s something we’ll have to reevaluate.

Atlantic blew out Pahokee in the second half, but the Eagles got away with another sloppy half of football, barely leading Pahokee 21-16 at halftime. To be an elite team, you have to crush lesser teams over four quarters week in and week out. Atlantic has that opportunity this week against Santaluces. If it struggles again, that means there are still some kinks to work out for a very talented team.

Palm Beach Central moved up to sixth after an impressive offensive showing at Gardens, which dropped to No. 8 but still showed flashes of offensive dominance against Central. Both of these teams are elite offenses at this point — Gardens is No. 1 and Central is No. 2 in total yardage among big schools — but the defenses need to tighten up if they want to make the playoffs out of tough districts.

Park Vista rolled past Palm Beach Lakes with a 50-point win, and the Cobras now get a week off before a very intriguing matchup against Jupiter. Quarterback Qwad Martin has been a revelation for Park Vista. The more he touches the ball, the more dangerous Vista’s offense is.

We took a wait-and-see approach with John I. Leonard, which plays Lake Worth this week in a good barometer game for both teams. That rivalry game last year was a good one … Spanish River, which is 3-0 and riding high, will get by far its toughest test this year when Dwyer comes to town on Friday night … Cardinal Newman has outscored its opponents 80-0 over the past two weeks, but we’d like to see them against King’s Academy (in two weeks) before we can accurately judge how good the Crusaders really are … Martin County will be around or in the rankings for much of the season, and it’ll play Plantation-American Heritage this week in a fun showdown … We also listed Glades Day, a team that is 1-2 coming into its big rivalry game against Jupiter Christian. We don’t like the direction the Gators are going, but we saw Friday night (a 20-7 loss to Clewiston) just how much Kelvin Taylor means to them.