Posted: 11:12 am Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Weekend Rewind: 4 takeaways from a memorable night for Palm Beach County 

By Anthony Chiang

Palm Beach County’s hopes for a state title fell on two schools playing just four miles away from each other on Friday.

Dwyer is just two wins away from its first state title since 2009. (Photo by Damon Higgins)

Dwyer and Palm Beach Gardens are the county’s only two teams that made it all the way to the third round. But they represented Palm Beach County well Friday, beating two of Broward’s best programs. The Gators advanced to the state semifinals, shocking Miramar in the Class 8A playoffs. Also in Class 8A, Fort Pierce Central was eliminated by Tampa Plant up north. Dwyer continued its undefeated season behind a stellar performance from quarterback Daniel Parr to beat St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A regional finals. There are no local teams left in Class 6A, Class 5A, Class 4A, Class 3A, Class 2A or Class 1A.

Here are the headlines from the action in the third round:

* Palm Beach Gardens pulled off another upset, using a strong performance from its defense to get past Miramar. (Game Report) (Photos)

* Quarterback Daniel Parr threw for 349 yards and ran for the game-winning score to lead Dwyer past Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas. (Game Report) (Photos)

In addition to all of that coverage, we have a new and improved mobile PBGametime site, which you can check out on your phones at m.pbgametime.com.

Here are the local teams that are still alive in the FHSAA playoffs after the third round:

Dwyer (13-0): Beat Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas 35-28 in the Class 7A regional finals.
Palm Beach Gardens (9-4): Beat Miramar 12-10 in the Class 8A regional finals.

What a night for Palm Beach County. Not only did Palm Beach Gardens shock everybody by beating Miramar, but Dwyer kept its state title hopes alive with a victory over St. Thomas Aquinas. Now, the Gators will have to travel to take on the winner of Saturday’s Coral Gables vs. South Dade game, and the Panthers will head to the other side of the state to face Tarpon Springs-East Lake next week.

4 takeaways

1. Can Palm Beach Gardens be stopped?

Instead of asking how the Gators keep pulling off upsets, I think it’s time to seriously consider them as a contender for the Class 8A state title. Palm Beach Gardens just eliminated the best team in the Class with a victory over Miramar. At this point, the Gators have a legitimate shot to win a state title as one of the four Class 8A teams still standing. I never though I would have typed that sentence after Palm Beach Gardens fell behind 17-0 against Park Vista in the first round, but the Gators are a resilient bunch. The Gators can beat you through the air or on the ground, which makes them a dangerous team. On Friday, they wore down Miramar and ate up the clock by giving running back Tommy Monday 36 carries for 106 yards. It worked and Palm Beach Gardens is still very much alive.

2. Dwyer QB Daniel Parr shouldn’t be overlooked

This guy is good. I had not seen him play before Friday’s game against St. Thomas Aquinas, but I came away impressed. Dwyer’s Daniel Parr is the best quarterback I have seen play this season. Sure, he has great weapons, but he shouldn’t be penalized for that. The junior is accurate and makes great decisions in big situations, including a completion to Ezra Saffold to keep Dwyer’s game-winning drive going late in the fourth quarter. After throwing an interception in the first quarter, Parr completed 12 of his next 17 passes for 197 yards. The Panthers’ weapons at the wide receiver position are hard to ignore, but Parr should not be ignored either.

3. Which team from Palm Beach County has the best chance to win a state title?

Even though Palm Beach Gardens is not far behind, the answer is Dwyer. The Panthers have been the area’s best chance for a state championship since the start of the season and that hasn’t changed after 13 straight wins. But Dwyer will face a very tough challenge in Tarpon Springs-East Lake (13-0) next week. East Lake has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 579-83 this season.

4. How will injuries affect Dwyer?

It remains to be seen how lower leg injuries to wide receivers Clint Stephens and Shawann Lurry will impact the Panthers. Lurry hurt himself in the first quarter and returned to the game for one play, but he quickly returned to the sideline after the injury continued to bother him. Meanwhile, Stephens has been bothered by an ankle injury since the regular season and it looks like he hurt it again in the second half Friday. He could barely put any pressure on it as he limped off the field. Against St. Thomas Aquinas, seniors Johnnie Dixon and Ezra Saffold stepped up to combine for 15 catches and 274 receiving yards. If Stephens and Lurry can’t play against East Lake on Friday, Dixon and Saffold will have to carry the load again.

How’d Anthony do?

Anthony’s predictions record: 1-2.
Best pick: None … again. Bad week for me, good week for Palm Beach County.