Posted: 5:05 pm Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Football: The post-spring Top 10 

By Post Staff

By Jeff Greer and Matt Porter
Few things mean less than rankings three months before a season starts, but with spring football over, we figured now’s better than ever to survey the area and come up with a snapshot of what to expect this fall.

Park Vista and quarterback Qwad Martin (10) have high hopes for this fall.

Immediately after the 2012 season ended, Dwyer became the consensus No. 1 for the upcoming season. The Panthers have three BCS-level wide receivers, a sneaky-good running game and a defense that matches Dwyer’s usual prowess on that side of the ball. That may be the one spot we feel fully comfortable with before the season gets going.

After that it’s a lot closer. Fort Pierce Central’s defense possesses LSU-bound linebacker Sharieff Rhaheed, monstrous defensive end Rashawn Shaw and a solid cornerback in Mike Perceval. The offense, despite losing most of its skill players from last fall, returns quarterback Sam Vaughn and should produce numbers using coach Josh Shaffer’s system. The Cobras trounced Glades Central in their spring game, which we think says more about Fort Pierce Central than it does about Glades Central. More on the Raiders in a minute.

Here’s our best guess at the post-spring top 10:

1. Dwyer
2. Fort Pierce Central
3. Park Vista
4. Palm Beach Central
5. Glades Central
6. Pahokee
7. Royal Palm Beach
8. John I. Leonard
9. Seminole Ridge
10. Palm Beach Gardens
Considered: American Heritage, Cardinal Newman, South Fork

Park Vista and Palm Beach Central are on a crash course for the District 10-8A title. Vista’s defense will be loaded, and once again the Cobras return quarterback Qwad Martin. Running back Emmanuel Smith could be a difference-maker for Vista, but the young Cobras line will be their biggest area of concern.

Central has a big offensive line and running backs Tommy McDonald and Kamar Downer behind it. Receivers Rudy St. Germain and Andrew Prince will be tough to handle on the edges, and Lake Worth transfer Luis Peguero would be the best bet to play quarterback this fall. But the defense will need to plug some of the holes that left Central in trouble last fall. There’s tons of talent there, but will it jell?

The fifth spot generated the most debate: Do we stick with the large-school teams like Royal Palm Beach, John I. Leonard, Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Gardens, all teams we think will compete for playoff spots? Or do we head out west and respect the muck?

When in doubt, go with the muck.

Glades Central’s offense struggled in its spring game against one of the state’s best defenses, and remember, Central was operating with a new offensive coordinator. The Raiders will lose their fair share of games this fall against one of the state’s best schedules, too. But Glades Central has the talent, especially on offense, to compete in each of its games. Receivers Jerry Jones, Ronquavion Tarver and Jonathon Istache should be tough to handle this fall.

John I. Leonard has the athletes to compete in District 10-8A.

And look at Pahokee. The Blue Devils historically endure two or three years of struggling in between their runs of dominance, and while we’re in no way, shape or form ready to predict Pahokee is BACK, so to speak, we do think the Blue Devils have a chance to be good this season. With athletes like Rashaun Croney, Derry Brown, Jay Hopson, Jonathan Jordan and Antone Paige, coach Blaze Thompson finally has a stable of playmakers to overwhelm the opponents Pahokee is used to beating.

After that it’s a hodgepodge of large-school teams. Right now Royal Palm and Leonard feature the kinds of athletes that will make them dangerous in the open field. We expect Ridge and Gardens to once again be two of the toughest teams in the trenches. How Gardens quarterback JP Caruso adjusts to the spotlight will be a major storyline this fall — the Gators need him to be a star. And we’re taking a wait-and-see approach with Ridge, which has a new coach and mostly new coaching staff.

Surprised to see American Heritage off the list? We are, too. The Stallions lost a ton of talent to graduation, and it’s unclear just what exactly they have. They didn’t play a spring game. They do have some talent — Trenard Davis, Hayden Brockwell and Des Cain come to mind — but it’s tough to peg the Stallions right now.