Posted: 2:38 pm Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
By Jeff Greer
Welcome to the first installment of the Ask Me Anything weekly mailbag. Here, I’ll take questions on high school football, recruiting and any other topic you choose.In our first addition, we have quite a few good high school ball questions. I didn’t include the ones asking blondes or brunettes (brunettes — hi, Samantha) or what percentage the bear is in bearmanpig (33.3333 percent, duh).
From @RobertHAlvarez: Top three small and large schools not picked to make playoffs that could beat the odds and bust into the postseason.
Jeff Greer: If we’re going by my district rankings, which come out this week as part of our high school football preview (buy it in Thursday’s newspaper), there are a few good teams with real chances at the playoffs. Some just have unlucky district placement.
Boynton Beach, in 15-6A, showed its potential on Friday night with a nice win over John I. Leonard. Both teams lack size in the trenches, but there’s no denying their athleticism. It’ll just be tough for Boynton in a district with good Broward teams like Archbishop McCarthy, Dillard and Hallandale. Leonard’s another team I’d include in that group. The Lancers have the athletes to pull off an upset or two and get in. Then, up north, I like what Treasure Coast did this preseason against a very good Taravella team. The Titans can pose a problem to Fort Pierce Central and Vero Beach in 8-8A.
As for small schools, I’d say Cardinal Newman, King’s Academy and Village Academy are all teams that could easily make the playoffs — and they might. I know it’s only a preseason game, but I liked what I saw from all three teams in their kickoff classics. Newman’s experience may be the different between them and Pahokee.
@KentuckyLoan: Who will win the Match up between Booker T. Washington and Miami Central?
JG: That’s the game (in two weeks) everyone’s talking about after both teams rocked their kickoff classics. Central was so impressive in person, with its offensive line averaging 6-foot-4, 294 pounds. That’s a college line, size-wise. I loved Joseph Yearby. Kid is a stud. I’ll take Central in that game, but I do worry about penalties. The Rockets had 200-plus penalty yards against Dwyer.
@MarnieLevy: How is John I. Leonard shaping up this season?
JG: As I mentioned above, Leonard has a ton of talent at the skill positions, particularly at receiver (Kaian Duverger, Kenute Morris) and quarterback (Tavares Martin). I always worry about their lines and defense. It’ll be a tall order to reach the playoffs with Palm Beach Central and Park Vista in the same district, but Leonard will compete.
Ken: Does American Heritage have a shot at the state title?
JG: Of course. The Stallions appear to be loaded yet again. It’s funny — we had no clue what to expect when Heritage decided not to play a spring game. But the Stallions have a ton of underclassmen who can really play. Beating First Coast on the road is a major indicator this is the team to beat among 3A teams in South Florida.
@jessilespie: Have you ever had chocolate bacon? I’m not sure how that would be.
JG: We all know sweet and salty is the perfect combination for a fantastic dessert. Chocolate bacon would change my world.
Mojitosunrise: Anything surprise you from the games this past week (outside of the Dwyer beatdown)?
JG: I actually wasn’t surprised by the Dwyer loss. I was surprised a little by how poorly the offense played, but that’s about it. Miami Central is the No. 1 team in the country and I expected them to score.
Aside from that, I’m most surprised by Glades Day, Pahokee and Seminole Ridge. Usually Glades Day puts up a good fight against Cardinal Newman, but this year’s game wasn’t even close. The Gators may be in more trouble than they’re letting on. Meanwhile I spent all spring and summer trumpeting the return of Pahokee football, then the Blue Devils go out and score 12 points on Clewiston. Now, don’t get me wrong, having Pete Walker and his system in place at Clewiston makes the Tigers a much more challenging opponent, but Pahokee has loads of talent and should be winning games like that. And Seminole Ridge losing 34-7 in a game always boggles my mind. I’m guessing the Hawks will be OK, but that result certainly raised my brows.
Michael: Were any contenders exposed as “pretenders” after the preseason games?
JG: It’s hard to expose someone in the preseason. There was a lot of preseason chatter among football folks about Pahokee and Seminole Ridge — a lot — and we saw both teams have some things to work out. Dwyer certainly needs better quarterback play. The Panthers need to run the ball more and do a better job finishing tackles, though a lot of the missed or broken tackles on Saturday happened because Dwyer’s D was on the field for so long.
Martin: Can Diqwoun Harris replicate his Week 1 performance?
JG: It certainly seems like he can. He was outstanding against Taravella. It’s always a challenge playing at Lakeland, so that’ll probably slow his roll a little, but I expect Harris to break out this fall.
Davis: Has there been a noticeable change with the new transfer rules in place?
JG: Not really. Glades Day lost its quarterback a few days before fall practice, and it’s the kid’s fourth school in four years. Jupiter lost a key player to transfer, too, and it’s that kid’s third school in four years. Inlet Grove fell apart via transfer after coach Jimmie Bell resigned. American Heritage has had no problem adding talent after all the seniors it graduated after last season. So, no real changes. Instead, it’s just easier for a kid to play right away.
@PantherLair: What’s the best defensive alignment to stop a zone-read?
JG: I like any defense with speed, so I’d go 3-4. As I’ve read in the past (go read smartfootball.com and thank me later), good defenses run scrape exchanges against zone reads, with the D-end crashing solely on the running back and a weakside ‘backer staying on the quarterback. To execute, defenses need speed and sure tacklers on the edge.
Miami-Dade County: You talk about all the buzzing you did on Pahokee’s behalf [but] they are still rebuilding that program. On the other hand, what about all the buzzing you did on Dwyer’s behalf? They got beat [by Miami Central] on every side of the ball. Dwyer, right now, on paper … They probably have one of best teams in the state and probably the No. 1 team in Palm Beach County right now. I’m saying on paper. We all know that the game is played on the field and not on paper. The question is simply how will they come together? From what I saw Saturday, they are 10 times worse than all the other schools on the coast. And while that is a legitimate question, I can tell you definitely that Dwyer is overrated and very overhyped. Dwyer is not nearly as good as they are made out to be.
JG: Miami Central did a number on Dwyer. There’s no denying that. But I do think a lot of Dwyer’s 31-point loss can be attributed to the Panthers themselves. They committed 16 penalties for 175 yards and threw two drive-killing interceptions. Then, and coach Jack Daniels admitted as much after the game, they left the door open for Central to take a two-touchdown lead before the half when they tried to run the clock out down 16-7.
Don’t get me wrong, Central is an awesome team and made its own breaks. I’d place the Rockets in the same category as 2011 Miami Norland as the best high school teams I’ve seen in person. But Dwyer had multiple opportunities early in the game to get big plays and missed out. That won’t happen all season. And, as I wrote in my Monday follow-up to Saturday’s game, Dwyer won’t play Miami Central all season.
Let’s end on a high note.
@TheSheaQuinn: What is the largest velociraptor pack size Batman could take on in a fight? What about mild-mannered Ben Affleck?
JG: Everybody always talks about fight or flight. But Batman’s mastered the art of fight and flight. Knowing Batman and his Raphael the Ninja Turtle-like tendencies, he’d go right at the raptor in plain sight. But if Robert Muldoon taught us anything about raptors, it’s that they’re quite clever. So while Batman’s bogged down punching the main raptor, the others would come at him from other angles. His body armor would certainly help in that situation, and he’d probably have to use his last-resort bodysuit shock to keep them off. I’d say he could fend off three raptors before escaping.