Posted: 11:09 am Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Week 5 Look Ahead: Inside the new Top 10, plus the top games coming up 

By Jeff Greer

We saw upsets galore on Friday night, and that’s enough to warrant some big changes in the Post Top 10 leading into the last week of September.

Marques Gayot (7) and Park Vista are moving up the rankings. (Photo by Allen Eyestone)

Can you believe the season’s already nearing October? Several teams are off to slow starts, while a few others have already raised expectations after breakout months. Questions abound as district play heats up: Is Boynton Beach legit, or just benefiting from a weak schedule? Is American Heritage’s tough schedule to blame for two losses, or is the problem internal? Can Glades Central get six wins against one of the toughest schedules in the state? And how will Royal Palm Beach recover from its devastating upset loss at West Boca?

Here’s the new Post Top 10 entering Week 5:

1. Dwyer 4-0
2. Fort Pierce Central 3-0
3. Park Vista 3-1
4. Seminole Ridge 3-1
5. American Heritage 2-2
6. Pahokee 3-1
7. Glades Central 2-2
8. Boynton Beach 4-0
9. Royal Palm Beach 2-1
10. King’s Academy 3-0
Also considered: Glades Day 4-0, Clewiston 2-1, Boca Raton 2-1, Palm Beach Gardens 1-2.

No change at the top — Dwyer and Fort Pierce Central are the area’s best teams right now. Park Vista’s been impressive since returning home from that season-opening loss in Ohio to Colerain High, which is now a nationally ranked team. Seminole Ridge, which lost to Vista on a last-second field goal, isn’t too far off the Cobras.

Things get interesting after the top four. American Heritage is 2-2, but the Stallions’ two losses are to state-ranked programs (Plantation-American Heritage and Cocoa). Those losses, both routs, are akin to Dwyer’s Miami Central loss in the kickoff classic. Dwyer has turned around and thumped every local team on the schedule, including Glades Central and Palm Beach Gardens. Heritage beat Atlantic and Glades Central. That Heritage-Pahokee matchup on Oct. 4 has major potential.

I’ve got Glades Central moving ahead of Boynton Beach. Now, Boynton fans continue cries for higher ranking, etc., but the Tigers need to actually beat someone before they move anywhere past the No. 8 spot. They don’t play a tough game until Dillard. Glades Central now has wins over Blanche Ely and Palm Beach Central, both better teams than anyone Boynton’s played. And, as I’ve explained in this space in the past, I rank teams based on who would win head-to-head.

I couldn’t kick Royal Palm Beach out of the Top 10, despite the disappointing loss to West Boca. But the Wildcats really hurt their playoff chances with that loss. We’ll see what kind of effect it has in November.

And look at No. 10 — King’s Academy joins the rankings after a nice win over Clewiston. The biggest point this ranking shows is that the crop’s pretty thin right now for that No. 10 spot. Glades Day looks better than we thought. Clewiston was on a roll after some nice wins over Pahokee (preseason) and Immokalee, but now we won’t see the Tigers play any good local teams for a while. Gardens is probably the 10th-best team in the county — maybe better than that — but the two losses, including a shutout, hurt.

Top Games This Week
We could really use a high school football Red Zone, couldn’t we? Look at all these top-notch games:

Seminole Ridge at Palm Beach Central
It’s officially desperation mode for Central after three crippling losses to start the season. The Broncos, despite their stable of talent, just can’t score. The offensive line, even with hulking tackle Kc McDermott, can’t quite find a rhythm. The quarterback position’s struggled, too. Ridge has looked very good so far, and will be the heavy favorite this week.

Miami-Dade Christian at Clewiston
Clewiston must find its winning way again after a tough field-goal loss to King’s Academy. The Tigers get traditional small-school power Dade Christian at home, but this game may be different than previous years. Dade Christian appears to be a bit down this season.

Palm Beach Gardens at Boca Raton
It’s hard to believe a team could reach desperation mode in September, but like Palm Beach Central, Gardens has been very disappointing so far. The offense just hasn’t clicked like it was supposed to, and that needs to change in a non-district game. Gardens won’t have any problem with Jupiter or Wellington, but to get a home playoff game, the Gators need to beat Seminole Ridge. Right now, that’s a pipe dream. Boca, on the other hand, is riding high after its big win over Central to start district play. A lot of dynamics in play here.