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This district stretches to the northern most parts of Broward County – but because the overall talent level has steadily been on the rise, it’s worth the drive to see these team strap it up each week. Better yet, there’s a Class 8A state title contender in this district, too.

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Coral Springs Colts

2015 Record: 1-9
Coach: Vincent Ziccardi
2016 Outlook: Some are quick to forget that Coral Springs was a playoff team just two years ago. So it isn’t a far-fetched concept that the Colts can wrangle talented players and play a good brand of football.

2015 was a rough season for Coral Springs. It was the inaugural season for head coach Vincent Ziccardi and the Colts’ roster went through a lot of turnover due to graduation and transfer.

One would like to think that year two will be better than year one for Ziccardi and the Colts. If it is, it will be because junior quarterback and presumed starter Kyle Kaplan made major strides as a signal caller.

Kaplan, who didn’t play this past season, had a growth spurt and now stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds; so he’s more equipped to physically handle the varsity level, but he must show himself to be a chain-mover from the pocket.

The Colts defense will benefit from the senior leadership of senior linebackers Triston Lawrence and Zach Applegate. Applegate played a role on that 2014 team that made the playoffs and he’s remained loyal to the Colts since.

While a postseason appearance likely isn’t in the cards for Coral Springs this season, 2016 could end up being a year that the Colts coaches look back and consider being the year that things began to turn for the better.

Deerfield Beach Bucks

2015 Record: 10-2 (District Champion)
Coach: Jevon Glenn
2016 Outlook: Deerfield Beach is a legitimate Class 8A state title contender.

The Bucks were already set to be a team that was in the playoff mix, but there was an influx of talent that has elevated Deerfield to lofty heights. And because iron sharpens iron, Deerfield has scheduled a trip to Georgia to face Grayson High as well a preseason classic against Chaminade-Madonna and its annual regular season tilt with super power St. Thomas Aquinas.

Things begin with returning senior receiver Jerry Jeudy. Considered one of the best players – regardless of position – in the class of 2017, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jeudy recently committed to Alabama and has definitely lived up to the hype throughout his career.

Despite being the focal point of opposing teams’ game plans each week, Jeudy would’ve still been able to find open spots. But with the arrival of 6-foot-2, three-star receiver Leroy Henley, who came over from Cardinal Gibbons, and 6-foot-2 University of South Florida commit Daewood Davis – teams will have to think twice before they shift their coverage only towards Jeudy.

The Bucks also got a new quarterback in 6-foot-4 senior Nick Holm. Holm transferred in from Calvary Christian and provides Deerfield Beach with a player that can stand tall in the pocket and deliver the ball with solid accuracy.

Holm will benefit from being able to operate from behind Deerfield Beach’s massive offensive line. Seniors Nigel Scott (6-foot-6, 315 pounds), Tellis Bostic (6-foot-3, 320 pounds) and Jamari Rouse (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) will lead while junior Despelado Alexandre (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) will get to grow as a lineman without being counted on to anchor the line.

Deerfield Beach’s defense was already set to be a stout group in 2016 with the return of 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior defensive end Deslin Alexandre and linebackers Brion Byrd Jr. and Branden Bailey, but things were kicked up a few notches when 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior Kenny Bastida moved in from Cardinal Gibbons and three-star safety Kobe Green transferred in from Coconut Creek.

And the defense is set up for long-term success, too. Sophomore Ge’Mon Eaford (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and junior linebacker Rosendo Louis (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) won’t just add depth, they’ll push for major playing time and be consistent contributors.

The Bucks have the talent in place. The key will be head coach Jevon Glenn’s ability to corral all of the personalities and egos so that his team lives up to its full potential.

Monarch Knights

2015 Record: 2-8
Coach: Willie Dodaro
2016 Outlook: Monarch is a program that’s still in the midst of a rebuild.

It’s unfortunate because prior to this past season, Monarch was a team that had won a total of 26 games – only eight losses – from 2012 to 2014 and made the postseason twice in that span.

There was a mass player exodus after Calvin Davis stepped away as the program’s head coach, which has left the Knights in the current state of rebuilding.

Willie Dodaro just finished his first season at the helm. Dodaro, a longtime football coach that’s had various stops around Florida and one in Georgia, has the credentials to gain the respect of his players. What he and his staff need to do is make the program appealing to potential incoming youngsters and show the rest of the county that Monarch is a viable option for football success.

Still, the Knights do have some players that will be out to show what they can do this season.

Junior athlete Teddy Baker spent time at quarterback for Monarch this past season, but could also slide into the backfield as a pure running back and be a solid playmaker. Also, junior Nicholas Brown is a sneaky-good athlete and will line up as a receiver and defensive back for the Knights.

There’s a dearth of size along Monarch’s defensive front, so it’ll be up to junior defensive back Kervens Augustin and senior linebacker Corinthian McCray to be stout in run support.

Piper Bengals

2015 Record: 9-2 (District Runner-up)
Coach: David Coleman
2016 Outlook: To say that Piper exceeded expectations in 2015 is like saying Red Lobster biscuits are “just alright” – a massive understatement.

The Bengals surprised everyone outside of their own locker room by winning its first eight games, finishing the regular season 9-1 and making it to the postseason.

Granted, Piper was greatly outscored in its two losses – a 38-0 loss to Deerfield Beach and a 39-0 loss to eventual Class 8A state champion Flanagan in the opening round of the playoffs – that didn’t detract from what they accomplished and it should only serve as a reminder that there’s still work to be done.

Credit to head coach David Coleman for coming in and implementing a system that not only galvanized the football team but also excited the entire school.

Now, the bar has risen for what Piper does in 2016. Luckily, the Bengals have a lot of players returning.

Senior quarterback Rashawn Fraser will be Piper’s offensive triggerman. Fraser threw 14 touchdowns in 2015 and was also second on the team in rushing. He should at least match those numbers in 2016, especially since two of the Bengals’ leading receivers from this past season – Shandon Marsden and Ja’Quez Geffrard – also return for their senior campaign.

Also look for running back Anthony Boykin, who transferred in from district foe Taravella, to add balance to the offense this season.

If Piper is to recreate the success it had last year, it’ll need senior defensive end Joshua Pierre-Louis (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) to prove himself as a player that can be the centerpiece of the defense – with tangible stats and intangible leadership.

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Stoneman Douglas Eagles

2015 Record: 5-5
Coach: Willis “Peanut” May
2016 Outlook: Stoneman Douglas remains a team that cannot be taken lightly.

Don’t let the .500 record deceive you, Douglas is a tough team that is going to give it everything it has every week and won’t lay down for anyone.

That trait comes down from head coach Willis “Peanut” May. May is a great leader and he demands that his players not only improve as athletes, but as people.

The 2016 version of Douglas should see their record tip over to the winning side because they have a couple of senior leaders that are determined to leave the program in a good place.

Senior offensive lineman Corey Gaynor is the best football player that not enough people know about. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder, whose brother plays offensive line at Texas Christian University, is a Minnesota commit and has the versatility and talent to play multiple positions along the offensive line and he plays with the mean streak that every lineman should.

While Gaynor is still largely underrated, senior linebacker Daniel Crescitelli gets little recognition for what he brings to the Eagles’ defense. He’s not the biggest player (6-feet, 220 pounds), but he definitely has the size to be a true linebacker. And while he’s not the fastest player, his understanding of angles and all-out effort in pursuit makes him someone who can get downfield on ball carriers in a hurry.

Where Douglas will struggle – especially against teams like Deerfield Beach and Piper – is their lack of depth in the secondary. Maybe using receivers Da’Quan Bailey-Brown and Tai Lehtio as defensive backs would help when lining up against teams that can trot out multiple top-notch receivers.

Taravella Trojans

2015 Record: 2-8
Coach: Charles Hafley
2016 Outlook: Taravella enters the 2016 season with a new voice in the locker room and on the sideline as former Blanche Ely head coach Charles Hafley takes over for longtime coach Dan Marguriet.

Hafley, who also recently spent time as an assistant at Stoneman Douglas, is a younger coach with a lot of “old school” tendencies. He played at Clemson from 1998 to 2001 and has plenty of football knowledge to impart to the Trojans players.

Taravella’s offense should be its stronger unit as a trio of seniors all return and are eager to prove themselves capable of being consistent contributors that carry the team.

Quarterback William Wooldridge will run things from under center while running back Jevaughn Brown should see a spike in his production since he’s now the star of the backfield with Anthony Boykin deciding to transfer to Piper.

Halfley, a defensive-minded coach, will have to focus on creating a new scheme that can counteract the fact that the Trojans lack size across the defensive line.

Also, new defensive playmakers will have to emerge – perhaps senior linebacker John Bonadonna or Cristian Rodriguez or even junior defensive end Jay Mariano – in order for Taravella to increase its win total in 2016.

Bald Prediction

Deerfield Beach will continue to reign supreme in this district. This is, arguably, one of the Bucks’ most talented teams ever – and while the others teams in this group are better, they likely won’t be able to trip them up.

Piper should remain as the No. 2 team. The Bengals brought back enough of difference-makers from 2015’s district runner-up squad to claim that spot again this season.

Stoneman Douglas should slide into the third position after losing a close game to Piper. However, Piper and everyone else on the Eagles’ schedule would be unwise to take this team lightly.

Taravella could be a team that shows some improvement in 2016 with its new head coach, being able to pick up a pair of district wins and finish fourth.

That leaves Coral Springs to slot fifth, and while Monarch’s overall record could improve this season, I think the Knights take a step back in the district and finish in the sixth spot.

Predicted Champion: Deerfield Beach
Predicted Runner-Up: Piper

District MVP

There’s a no-brainer pick here – and it’s not Jerry Jeudy.

The player that’ll have a lot of his team’s success tied to his performance is Deerfield Beach quarterback Nick Holm.

If Holm is indeed going to be the Bucks’ starter – he has a very good problem on his hands.

He’ll have the keys to an offense that is brimming with Division-I talent. He’s going to be protected by a big line, he has talented running backs behind him and he has a great core of receivers – including one the best in the country in Jeudy.

But with great gifts, comes great responsibility. He has to not only distribute the ball, he must take ownership of the offense and prove himself to be a leader that will protect the ball and allow all of the weapons around him to do what they do best.

Everyone will come to see Jeudy and the rest of the skill guys, but it’ll be Holm – or whoever Deerfield’s starting quarterback is – that’ll be under a microscope.

Bold Prediction

Some people may say that this isn’t much of a Bold Prediction, but I am going to say that Deerfield Beach will make it to the Class 8A state semifinals.

The overall talent level of the team is too high to ignore.

Granted, the road to the state semis will be an arduous one – especially since it’ll include at least one stop through Palm Beach – but I think Deerfield Beach has the makeup of a team that will be playing after Thanksgiving.

It would be fun to see a potential showdown between one of the northern-most Broward teams and one of the southern-most Dade teams.

Top Players

Alton Allen – Deerfield Beach
Anthony Boykin – Piper
Ashtan Pierre – Deerfield Beach
Branden Bailey – Deerfield Beach
Brandon Godinez – Coral Springs
Brion Byrd – Deerfield Beach
Cameron Stage – Coral Springs
Corey Gaynor – Stoneman Douglas
Cortez Grace – Deerfield Beach
Da’Quan Bailey-Brown – Stoneman Douglas
Daewood Davis – Deerfield Beach
Daniel Crescitelli – Stoneman Douglas
Deslin Alexandre – Deerfield Beach
Despelado Alexandre – Deerfield Beach
Dylan Young – Taravella
Ge’Mon Eaford – Deerfield Beach
Giavante Evans – Deerfield Beach
Ja’Quez Geffrard – Piper
Jacolby Davis – Piper
Jamari Rouse – Deerfield Beach
Jerry Jeudy – Deerfield Beach
Jevaughn Brown – Taravella
Joshua Pierre-Louis – Piper
Kaory Simmons – Piper
Kenny Bastida – Deerfield Beach
Kervens Augustin – Monarch
Kobe Green – Deerfield Beach
Kyle Kaplan – Coral Springs
Leroy Henley – Deerfield Beach
Nicholas Brown – Monarch
Nick Holm – Deerfield Beach
Nick Joseph – Taravella
Nigel Scott – Deerfield Beach
Raevon Clarke – Piper
Rashawn Fraser – Piper
Riley Allison – Stoneman Douglas
Rosendo Louis – Deerfield Beach
Shandon Marsden – Piper
Tai Lehtio – Stoneman Douglas
Teddy Baker – Monarch
Tellis Bostic – Deerfield Beach
Tyler Adderley – Piper
Tyler Goodman – Stoneman Douglas
Wayne Parrish – Taravella
Will Wooldridge – Taravella
Willbermane Louima – Piper
Zach Applegate – Coral Springs

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