While one team, in particular, has made recent strides to gain control of this talent-rich district, the other three will be nipping at their heels at the first sign of a slip.
Boyd Anderson CobrasREAD MORE: Broward Dive Rescue Teams Come Together To Investigate, Recover Sunken Vehicles From Deerfield Beach Lake
2015 Record: 9-2
Coach: Quincy Woods
2016 Outlook: Talk about a turnaround.
Boyd Anderson was winless in 2014, made a slew of changes and ended up doing a complete 180 as they went 9-1 during the regular season and lost to eventual Class 6A state champion Miami Central in the opening round of the playoffs.
The biggest and most impactful change was the hiring of head coach Eddie “Rabbit” Brown. The father of Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, “Rabbit” exceed all expectations in his first year with the Cobras.
Unfortunately, Brown announced shortly before the start of fall practice that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence. Stepping in for Brown is former assistant Quincy Woods. Tabbing Woods as the new leader keeps the continuity within the program and gives the players a familiar face and voice in the locker room.
Still, the culture inside the program has changed for the better and the roster assembled for 2016 has created some pretty high aspirations.
You could argue that the Cobras’ defense has become its strength – specifically the secondary. Returning standouts Raheme Fuller, Michael Nesbitt and Rennard Bozeman were already going to make it difficult for opposing teams to have success through the air.
Now add four-star safety Daniel Wright, who transferred in from Cardinal Gibbons, to the equation and Boyd Anderson has a “lock down” secondary that can compete with anyone in the state.
Also, the arrival of Hialeah Gardens Mater Academy transfer Daniel Walker – a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive tackle – will only make the Cobras’ defense that much more stout.
Offensively, the load falls on the arm and legs of returning quarterback Shabazz Telfort. The 6-foot-4 signal caller is undoubtedly the team’s leader and he has a couple of nice weapons to work with in running backs Willie Hunt and Novric Jackson and receiver Gregory Jean.
The key for Boyd Anderson will be protecting Telfort consistently – especially if they plan on getting to and getting by Miami Central.
Boynton Beach Tigers
2015 Record: 4-6
Coach: Erick Lowe
2016 Outlook: Boynton Beach took a step backward in 2015. After totaling 20 wins in the two previous seasons, the Tigers finished below .500 for the first time since 2012.
But things should be better in 2016 for Boynton Beach.
6-foot-2 quarterback Jacob Mullally returns for his senior season. His junior year was cut short when he suffered a severe back injury midway through the season – and saw his team finish the season on a four-game losing streak.
The biggest benefactor of a healthy Mullally will likely be receiver Antoine Jerome. A physical 6-foot, 190-pound pass catcher, Jerome has offers from Alabama-Birmingham, Eastern Michigan, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman.
Boynton Beach’s defense will be anchored by 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end Jason Mercier. He’s physically imposing and plays with good functional strength – better yet, he’s only entering his junior year.
2015 Record: 6-5
Coach: Lorenzo Davis
2016 Outlook: Dillard is just one of those schools that will always have big, talented, athletic kids walk through the halls. It’s largely because of the area in which the school sits – as the community wraps its arms around the school and kids are almost predestined to end up going to Dillard.
With that said, the Panthers have assembled what should be one of the state’s top defensive fronts.
It starts with 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior Jon Ford. Ford can line up on the edge or inside and still be a force because of his strength.
The gem could be defensive end Jordan Wright. The 6-foot-6 Wright is a basketball star for the Panthers too, but he hit the gridiron this past season and was an instant success. Wright’s long arms and quick first step make him a nightmare to block coming off the ball.
Because Wright and Ford will get the attention of the opponent’s top offensive linemen, Dillard has another pair that will benefit from greatly in 6-foot-6 senior Stephon Zayas and 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore Braylen Ingraham.READ MORE: Condo Reform Measure Introduced During Florida Special Session On Property Insurance
Offensively, Dillard still has some questions to be answered. They do have playmakers in the form of receivers George Golden and Bryce Oliver and they have a workhorse-type running back in Tajue Williams (6-feet, 205 pounds).
But junior quarterback Francois Moe has to show that he can make sound decisions – especially in crucial moments of big games.
2015 Record: 1-9
Coach: LZ Anderson
2016 Outlook: The Hurricanes enter year two under head coach LZ Anderson.
Year two is typically always better than year one – and that should be the case with Northeast in 2016.
Anderson had his squad at multiple offseason events in an effort to improve and build chemistry amongst the players.
It would be unwise for opposing teams to think that the Canes will be a pushover. They have a handful of difference-making players with big-time potential.
Senior receiver Jordan Nesmith is a spark plug that will carve out a large role in Northeast’s offense this season. He’s racked up offers from Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and Florida International and is a player to watch.
The defense will look to senior middle linebacker Kelvin Kirkland for leadership and playmaking. He racked up 93 tackles and five sacks this past season and it’ll be up to he and outside backer Malik Occius to anchor the young group.
Northeast should improve upon their win total from 2015.
If relatively healthy throughout the season, Boyd Anderson wins this district.
The Cobras have separated themselves from the rest of the group – not by miles – but there’s a substantial enough gap.
Boyd Anderson has its sights set on a particular Miami-Dade County team, but they need to find that offensive igniter that can be a go-to weapon for quarterback Shabazz Telfort if they want to have an easier cruise through the district and into the postseason.
I think Dillard takes the runner-up spot over Boynton Beach. The Panthers defensive line should overwhelm Boynton’s offensive line and Dillard’s offense will create just enough offense to manufacture a key victory when the two square off.
Northeast will round out the set, but that’s not to say that the Hurricanes won’t be a better team in 2016. They very well should be, but they’re situated in a loaded district with three other very good programs.
Predicted Champion: Boyd Anderson
Predicted Runner-Up: Dillard
Look no further than Boyd Anderson’s Shabazz Telfort. Because the Cobras offense doesn’t have one of those true, explosive, game-changing playmakers – it’ll be up to Telfort to make the weapons that he does have even better.
Making good reads, limiting turnovers and being an effective scrambler when opportunities present themselves are all things that Telfort need to do in 2016.
I will say that it will be either Stephon Zayas or Braylen Ingraham that’ll lead Dillard in sacks in 2016 – not Jon Ford or Jordan Wright.
Both Wright and Ford are worthy of double teams. Teams will try to shift their protection to account for Ford and Wright – leaving Zayas and Ingraham to see one-on-one blocking matchups that they should be able to win more often than not.
Ford and Wright will get theirs, but Zayas and Ingraham should be able to “eat” – big time.
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Antoine Jerome – Boynton Beach
Braylen Ingraham – Dillard
Bryce Oliver – Dillard
Daniel Barker – Boyd Anderson
Daniel Walker – Boyd Anderson
Daniel Wright – Boyd Anderson
David Saintard – Boynton Beach
Devin Jordan – Dillard
George Golden – Dillard
Greg Jean – Boyd Anderson
Jacob Mullally – Boynton Beach
Jason Mercier – Boynton Beach
Jon Ford – Dillard
Jordan Nesmith – Northeast
Jordan Wright – Dillard
Justinn Richardson – Northeast
Kelvin Kirkland – Northeast
Luther Allen – Northeast
Malik Occius – Northeast
Michael Mackey – Dillard
Michael Nesbitt – Boyd Anderson
Raheme Fuller – Boyd Anderson
Rennard Bozeman – Boyd Anderson
Shabazz Telfort – Boyd Anderson
Stephon Zayas – Dillard
Tahjon McKinney-Cole – Boyd Anderson
Tajue Williams – Dillard