By Larry Blustein

larry block6 ON THE RISE   West Broward BobcatsSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

Two years ago, when head coach Reyna Thompson led West Broward into the state playoffs, those athletes who many had long talked about, from western Pembroke Pines, were starting to surface for the Bobcats.

When Thompson stepped down and Monte Dilworth was chosen to take over last season, there was a sense that this program, new in so many ways to playing at a high level, had the chance to special. After all, several athletes who had grown up in the area, had success at the next level, so it made sense.

“We felt, from the time we made the playoffs that we had a chance to continue this,” said Dilworth, who was an assistant on that team. “What we needed to do is get great coaches to teach these young men. That way, they would learn, and see the results.”

Dilworth is indeed a student of the game. Growing up in Alabama, where football is indeed a “religion” there were no shortcuts. That kind of mindset not only still exists in Alabama, but something that this impressive coach brought with him in his many stops around South Florida.

“Give me a kid who is going to work hard, make a commitment – in and out of the classroom – and someone who will be a special teammate and we can move on with the next chapter,” Dilworth explained. “I was taught that you can run all the 4.4s and jump out of the gym, but if you cannot play the game, you are just another fast body.”

Dilworth has a major advantage – putting together a tremendous coaching staff – and being a weight training coach and fanatic. His belief of “getting out of the game what you put in”, is indeed something that has been noticed by plenty of players and opposing coaches.

There were several teams that finished on a positive note in 2016, and the Bobcats were one of those. Even though they missed out on the playoffs, they were a program that had plenty to be optimistic about.

Part of that optimism is on offense, where Dilworth will unleash his version of the Wing-T attack, which very few teams run and is often hard to prepare for.

The Bobcats will have versatile junior Matthew Ruiz at quarterback and a number of running backs – featuring seniors Gary Banks, Devin Broughton, James Wallace and speedy and talented Eric Hoff, Jr.

When the team throws the ball, they will have those backs, along talented juniors Ryan Castillo, Anthony Livoti, David Marrero, Jason Montes de Oca, Jason O’Keefe and Ignacio Wallace.

“Our skilled players really worked hard in the weigh troom and at the events the past six months,” Dilworth said. The linemen also were there every day, getting better and gaining confidence.”

Speaking of the linemen, seniors Alex Alvarez (G), Joseph Ortiz (T) and versatile center Austin Plugge, along with juniors Braden Davis (T) and tackle Zachary Kappes, are going to be very special as well.

THE DEFENSE WILL BE SOLID

After a convincing spring win against Hialeah Barbara Goleman, the Bobcats came away with a tremendous feeling about their defense.

Up front, a lot of work has been done to ensure that the defensive side of the ball will create more turnovers this coming season.

Up front, senior defensive ends Jean-Edward Rigaud and Ja’Corey Washington are solid. So are juniors Yousef Abu (DT), Thomas Armstrong (DE), Jimmy Darr (DT) and tackle Roberto Navarro.

“We have some experience up front along with good size,” Dilworth pointed out. “We are young at linebacker, but have more leadership and experience in the secondary.”

Senior Brandon Sexton (OLB) leads a group that includes juniors Malcolm Denbow (OLB), Michael Hapsas (MLB), talented Dominic Tianga (MLB) and outside linebacker Willie Webb, Jr. There is also talented sophomore outside linebacker Marc Christie.

The secondary is the place where the Bobcats should be strong. Seniors such as talented and experienced Bran Alvarado (S), Daniel Ikpatt (CB), Darnell Jean Louis (CB) and cornerback Jeremy Mora will be solid – and junior cornerbacks Khwan Mickens and Diego Peralta have also shown that they will be a force as well.

With McArthur losing so many talented players, Nova and Cooper City rebuilding, and new coaches at Hollywood Hills and South Broward, this is a year where the Bobcats can truly make a huge run.

Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!

south florida high school sports ON THE RISE   West Broward Bobcats

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