All-area football, large schools defense: LB Gage Batten centered Dwyer's 'Rude Nation' defense
Friday, December 23, 2011
LARGE SCHOOLS FOOTBALL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
By JEFF GREER
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
There's a reason Dwyer's defense is called Rude Nation. The Panthers' defensive unit was downright nasty in 2011, stifling opposing offenses on a consistent basis all season.
Only three teams scored in double figures against Dwyer in the regular season. Four were shut out. Opponents averaged 46 yards rushing in the regular season.
In the process, Dwyer pummeled area offensive stars such as Lake Worth quarterback Evan Moore (14 total yards of offense) and Royal Palm Beach's Tremane McCullough (22 rushing yards). Moore finished the season with more than 2,000 yards of offense; McCullough ran for 1,700 yards.
Right in the thick of that talented defensive unit was Gage Batten, Dwyer's burly middle linebacker who transferred from King's Academy before his senior season. Batten (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) led his team in tackles (74) and tackles for loss (15), an impressive feat on a stacked defense.
He was the sideline-to-sideline presence Dwyer's 4-3 base defense required and the lone senior in Dwyer's young-but-talented linebacking corps - both huge roles for a defense that relies on communication and assignment discipline.
Perhaps the biggest testament above all else is Batten's resiliency: The senior 'backer was hobbled by an ankle injury early in the season. It was painfully obvious that Batten, who'd established himself as one of the area's best linebackers while at King's, wasn't quite the same.
But he kept going. And just like that Dwyer defense, his relentless ways paid off. Big time.
LARGE SCHOOLS FOOTBALL FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE
An interior menace to opposing offensive lines, led Dwyer's frighteningly good defensive line with 13 tackles for loss.
John I. Leonard
Imposing and quick defensive end turned heads this fall and earned several BCS college scholarship offers.
Two-way star who also plays tight end posted 41 tackles, nine sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Perfect fit for Ridge's 3-4 edge-pressure system, stormed onto stage with big playoff performance vs. Gardens.
Palm Beach Central
Hybrid pass rusher and Miami commit was a breakout star in 2011, collecting 58 tackles and six sacks.
Senior leader and heart of Boca's defense known for his gritty play tallied 132 tackles.
Ja Wand Blue
West Boca Raton
Ferocious run stopper and Virginia Tech commit made his impact with speed and power.
Royal Palm Beach
Gained a reputation as hard-hitting pass rusher and all-around defensive star.
Best defensive player in a loaded secondary, intercepted four passes and scored four special-teams touchdowns.
Standout safety and Syracuse commit collected nine interceptions as Dwyer's ballhawk in the secondary.
Fantastic cover corner for one of the area's toughest and most complex defenses.
Palm Beach Central
Don't let thin statistics (one interception, eight pass breakups) fool you: No one threw at the UConn commit all season.
LARGE SCHOOLS FOOTBALL SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE
DL - Keith Bryant, Atlantic, Jr.
DL - Mark Kelly, Dwyer, So.
DL - Anthony Hicks, Palm Beach Gardens, Sr.
DL - Dakwon De Polo, Palm Beach Gardens, Sr.
LB - Shawn Boone, Dwyer, So.
LB - Cory Moore, Lake Worth, Sr.
LB - Sam Weimerskirtch, Park Vista, Sr.
DB - DeAndre Simmons, Royal Palm Beach, Jr.
DB - Duke Crawford, John I. Leonard, Sr.
DB - Gerard Fulton, Atlantic, Sr.
DB - Mike Almonte, Seminole Ridge, Jr.
LARGE SCHOOLS FOOTBALL HONORABLE MENTION
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Matthew Andre, West Boca Raton; Paul Brown, Jupiter; Jason Shepherd, Seminole Ridge; Peter Sylvain, Palm Beach Gardens; Ted Taylor, Dwyer; Lukeson Versalien, Atlantic.
LINEBACKERS: Kyle Brockert, Jupiter; Jared Brown, Dwyer; Rayfield Dixon, Seminole Ridge; Andy LeMay, Wellington; Mike Maldonado, Palm Beach Central; Thomas Marciante, Park Vista; Bruce Thomas, Atlantic; Korey Wells, Palm Beach Gardens.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: D'Andre Coleman, Park Vista; Glen Collier, Jupiter; Shamar Jackson, Wellington; Kevin Jerome, Seminole Ridge; Keymonni Miller, John I. Leonard; Omar Pierre-Louis, Seminole Ridge; Darrion Richardson, Atlantic; Deago Sama, Olympic Heights; Anthony Williams, Dwyer.