Football: Dwyer-Atlantic matchup week's best
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Second-ranked Dwyer and fourth-ranked Atlantic each opened the season with a sloppy loss to a highly ranked team, and this week's matchup between the two should be a good indicator of how much each has improved.
Eagles quarterback Mark Leal has come a long way since struggling in an opening loss at Pahokee. In his past two games, Leal has completed 66.7 percent of his attempts and has 10 touchdown passes.
'I don't think he's better than L.J. (Thomas), but he makes good decisions,' Dwyer's Matt Elam said, comparing Leal to Glades Central's Thomas, who beat the Panthers in the season opener. 'He knows when to run and when to throw.
'This is getting us ready for the playoffs. We'll see teams like this in the playoffs, so this will show us how good we really are.'
Leal and his offensive linemen will face one of the area's best pass rushes, featuring Curt Maggitt and Gerald Christian.
Maggitt, a junior, blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in Dwyer's win over Pahokee two weeks ago.
'You can't really stop him,' Eagles coach Andre Thaddies said. 'You just try to go away from him.'
Atlantic is good enough to reach the end zone at least once, maybe twice, but Dwyer's defensive front will be overwhelming and the Panthers should win convincingly.
One other noteworthy point on this game: Dwyer will hold a ceremony at halftime to name the field after former Athletic Director Rick Hubbard, who died last December.
No. 10 Royal Palm Beach might have more untapped upside than any other ranked team.
They topped 100 yards rushing against No. 1 Glades Central last week and outscored the Raiders 22-7 in the second half. The Wildcats had trouble containing Antwon Chisholm before he left with an injury but consistently got into the backfield and caused issues for Glades Central.
This team looks like it needs a few key players to step up, especially quarterback Malcolm Pendergrass, but should continue to make strides each week, starting with a win over Jupiter.
Believe it or not, Wellington is 2-2. Look for No. 6 Palm Beach Lakes to punish the Wolverines and knock them back below .500. The Rams are averaging 134.5 rushing yards per game this season and should top that mark this week.
There should be some serious stompings in district play this week, too.
King's Academy and American Heritage each could top 50 points this week against far inferior opponents.
No. 5 Jupiter Christian will roll over Berean Christian for the Eagles' state-best 32nd straight win. That could very well be the final victory in that stretch.
Jupiter Christian visits Charlotte (N.C.) Christian and Glades Central the next two weeks. In four games this season, Jupiter Christian quarterback Marshyl Rothman has amassed 937 total yards and 13 TDs. In his past 171 regular-season passes, he has 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
No. 3 Pahokee will be tested at times against Coconut Creek-North Broward Prep, but the Blue Devils ultimately will win by at least 20 points.
Listen to Jason Lieser on ESPN 760's pre-game show at 7 tonight.