Posted: 5:25 pm Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Playoff Primer 2011: Dwyer’s dominating defense hoping to lock down Ely’s star receiver 

By Matt Porter

There are 16 playoff games on Friday involving teams from our area. In the buildup to the games, we’ll break down every matchup.

Dwyer leads with its defense, one of the best in the county (6.7 points allowed per game). It will focus this week on one of the nation’s top receivers, Blanche Ely’s Avery Johnson, and his waterbug quarterback, Darrien Allen. The challenge for Ely’s D is shutting down Dwyer’s power game, which starts with quarterback Faton Bauta.

Dwyer has been on a roll since losing its opening game to Glades Central on national TV, so Ely fans who saw their offense fall flat on Labor Day may have their hopes dashed. They Panthers don’t dominate offensively, but they have plenty of chances thanks to all those three-and-outs the defense hands them. And of course, they have a big field position advantage thanks to area’s best kicker, senior Bobby Puyol.

The Panthers have won nine straight and haven’t allowed more than two touchdowns in any of them. They didn’t allow a first-half touchdown from mid-September until Week 9 against Royal Palm Beach.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.

BLANCHE ELY
Record: 7-3
How they qualified: Runner-up in District 14-7A.
Average points per game: 27.2
Average points allowed per game: 17.2.
Offensive yardage totals: 91.4 rush, 177.3 pass per game.
Offensive stars: WR Avery Johnson (336 receiving yards, 6 TD), QB Darrien Allen (53% completion rate, 1,114 passing yards, 13 TD, 2 INT, 359 rushing yards, 8 TD), WR Jordan Fields (348 receiving yards, 3 TD).
Defensive yardage totals: 100.1 rush, 97.3 pass per game.
Defensive stars: LB Charlie Thompson.
Common opponents with Dwyer: None.

DWYER
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Winner of District 13-7A.
Average points per game: 35.1.
Average points allowed per game: 6.7.
Offensive yardage totals: 197.6 rush, 93.7 pass per game.
Offensive stars: QB Faton Bauta (53% completion rate, 13 TD, 4 INT, 1,006 passing yards, 352 rushing yards, 6 TD), WR Clint Stephens (439 receiving yards, 7 TD), WR Johnnie Dixon (318 receiving yards, 3 TD).
Defensive stars: DT Mike Minns, DE Malik Brown, S Julian Whigham.
Common opponents with Blanche Ely: None.

While Dwyer’s doesn’t have the Jacoby Brissett-Nick O’Leary combo to rely on this year, Dwyer’s defense is laden with speed and power, can cover and stop the run, makes life miserable for opposing QBs and usually makes their coaches happy by keeping the mistakes to a minimum. They are one of the area’s most dominant positional groups and the reason Dwyer has a shot at the 7A state title.

We’ve written plenty about them, so here’s a look at the cast of characters.

First and foremost, they’ll have to stop Johnson, Ely’s top receiver. Johnson is big (6-3, 180) and is ranked by several scouting services among the top receivers in the nation. Johnson, the brother of Arizona Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson, originally committed to LSU last year, but has said he’s also considering Oklahoma. Look for corners Jonathan Moxey or Deandre Bozeman to spend the bulk of their time keeping up with him.

Dwyer also needs to worry about Allen, Ely’s athletic senior quarterback. Allen is only 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, but leads the Tigers in rushing and passing. He’s elusive in the pocket and is a big threat to take off. Ely also has one of Broward’s better backs in senior Robert Scott.

There’s no reason to think Dwyer’s offense won’t bring the same wear-you-out power game that has helped it get this far. Bauta, who this week committed to Georgia, is a handful for opposing linebackers because he is built like one. Junior Cortney Lowery comes slashing out of the backfield. When Dwyer takes to the air, he has two of the best young receivers in the county, sophomores Clint Stephens and Johnnie Dixon. Stephens may be the best in the county right now. Dwyer has a variety of options with junior tight end Malik Brown and fellow Gardens transfer Jelani Jean-Louis, who plays fullback and can catch passes.

Dwyer hasn’t had many tests as of late. Since that season-opening loss to Glades Central and a win over Seminole Ridge that could have turned the other way in the final minutes, the Panthers have rolled through the rest of their district games. It’s not like they’ve become soft, though. They’re playing their best football right now, like they were last season at this time. They should handle business this week and next before the tests get a lot tougher.

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