Posted: 1:02 pm Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Thoughts from Glades Central’s 23-7 win over Boca Raton 

By Matt Porter

It was a night where some teams exploded on offense. Of all the games in the area, the winners won by scoring an average of 35.2 points. Atlantic scored 70 on Spanish River. Royal Palm hung 55 on Santaluces. Dwyer put 52 on West Boca.

So why couldn’t Glades Central get a piece of that action?

The top-ranked Raiders are one of the area’s most talented teams, with a bevy of offensive weapons and a defense that can take turnovers to the house. Why were they losing at halftime to Boca Raton by the odd-looking score of 7-2? How was Boca Raton hanging around?

One of the night’s more interesting games wasn’t decided until the third quarter, when the Raiders took care of business, scored three times and won 23-7 on the road. Boca showed it has plenty of fight (and will be a problem for its district opponents) and Glades Central showed it has to clean it up before it gets bit at the wrong time.

Here’s a few scattered thoughts from Glades Central’s Week 5 win over Boca Raton:

Felt like a win for the Bobcats. Boca Raton didn’t need to bring everything it had. Their district schedule begins next week at John I. Leonard, so the Bobcats held out top running back Keith Byars II, who has been battling a sprained foot. They didn’t need Glades Central’s swarming, hard-hitting defense to make Byars’ injury any worse.

But the Bobcats needed a good effort to put all the off-the-field drama behind them. You know the backstory by now. They did just that. It was plain to see: the energy was there on the sidelines, with plenty of positive communication.

Lewis Burnham's debut as Boca Raton coach went as good as he could have expected. Click for more game photos. (Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post)

Lewis Burnham's debut as Boca Raton coach went as good as he could have expected. Click for more game photos. (Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post)

Even though the Bobcats couldn’t produce much of anything on offense – 16 carries for minus-1 yards, 6-of-23 passing for 78 yards through the air – they left Friday night feeling good.

They led the Raiders at the half. They held quarterback Tanner Redish to 12-of-22 passing, sacked him once and intercepted him twice. They clamped down on the running game, holding lightning-fast Will Likely to 0 yards on his final six carries over three-plus quarters, and keeping human battering ram Aaron Baker (14 carries, 70 yards) from breaking anything longer than 3 yards on all but five carries. They recovered two fumbles.

Yes, the Raiders’ sloppiness had just as much to do with them being in the game as did Boca’s effort. After all, Boca produced eight first downs, exactly half of which came as a result of Glades Central penalties. But Boca proved it could hang, which has to make the rest of District 10-8A (John I. Leonard, Palm Beach Central and Park Vista) wonder if they could do the same.

“We wanted them to battle,” Boca coach Lewis Burnham said. “Obviously Glades Central’s an outstanding team. We gave it what we had. All we can do is look forward to that district schedule starting next week.”

Raiders have cleaning to do. The Raiders don’t have a difficult district schedule. None of Boynton Beach, Fort Pierce Westwood, Jensen Beach or Suncoast has shown anything in the first part of the season that says they’ll challenge Glades Central for the District 14-5A crown.

None of those teams – really, only a few in the area – can produce fine-tasting offense like Glades Central. But the heaping spoonfuls of penalties served with it leaves the whole dish a sloppy mess.

Down 7-2 at the half, Glades Central forced a punt on Boca’s first drive of the third quarter. On the return, the Raiders knocked themselves back 10 yards due to a block in the back.

They drove from their own 30 to Boca’s 36 on nine plays, highlighted by Likely’s 20- and 18-yard receptions. Along the way, they were hit with holding and offsides calls.

With 4:54 left in the third, Redish went to the air and found Jaime Wilson outside the secondary. Wilson, who had 5 catches for 95 yards, hauled in a 36-yard TD pass to make it 9-7.

Now, Boca took over with 4:49 left in the third. The Bobcats picked up 10 yards on three carries from 10th-grader Cecil Johnson. Then it got messy again.

On first-and-10 from the 41, the Raiders committed pass interference. On the next play, the Bobcats committed a personal foul. Two plays later, Boca quarterback Kevin Anderson drew a late hit as he scrambled out of bounds. Two plays later, Glades Central was flagged for holding.

Sometimes you wonder if the refs are having an off night. These were fairly obvious calls.

All three of the Raiders’ ballcarriers fumbled. Likely lost one, Baker recovered his and senior Dominique Gibson … well …

As he tried to power through a goalmouth scrum with three minutes left in the game, Gibson let Boca linebacker Marc Danieli take the ball away from him with the ease of Jerry stealing the marble rye.

The expectation for Glades Central is a state title, and not too many teams win state title games with 160 yards on 17 penalties, three fumbles and two picks. We’re a long way from the playoffs, but the Raiders know they have some cleaning up to do.

“Starting Monday,” coach Roosevelt Blackmon said, “we’re going to rectify the problem.”

Crevon Leblanc (3) was a monster in the secondary. (Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post)

Crevon Leblanc (3) was a monster in the secondary. Click for more game photos. (Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post)

LeBlanc comes up big. After the sequence described above, Glades Central safety Crevon Leblanc looked to the sky as he set himself in pre-snap position. He raised his palm and drew his hand inward, seemingly asking for power from above. (If you know about Leblanc, you know what that might signify.) Leblanc found his inspiration, and it helped his team pull away.

On first down, a host of Raiders stripped Boca running back Tard McCoy, who recovered the ball. Anderson’s pass was complete but just out-of-bounds on 4th-and-14. Raiders ball. Likely was open as Redish’ safety valve, and took a dump-off 63 yards for a touchdown.

And then, Leblanc. On 3rd-and-12 from Boca Raton’s 18, Leblanc stepped in front of a deep ball and snatched it, returning it some 35 yards to the Boca 15. After a penalty (of course) and a strong defensive stand by Boca, Wilson was in the end zone on a 23-yard pass from Redish.

Then, LeBlanc again. Boca, down 23-7 with 9 minutes remaining, had their last chance. A pass interference call on the Raiders brought the ball across midfield. Anderson went deep on first-and-10 … and LeBlanc hauled it in.

Leblanc also had one of the hardest hits of the game, popping Boca’s Johnson back three yards on a third-quarter carry. Appropriate timing, since a University of Miami assistant coach was there taking notes.

“We’ve been waiting for him to have one of those type of games,” Blackmon said. “The first day we step on the field, we could see he had some great hands.”