Glades Central cruising after slow start to season
Thursday, November 29, 2012
by Matt Porter
This version of Glades Central has few things in common with its football predecessors.
Glades Central, which went 243-30 in the past two decades, began this season 0-4, the worst start in program history. The Raiders are undersized, lack star power and aside from do-it-all senior Will Likely, don't inspire the same fear as Raiders teams of old.
And yet they've won eight consecutive games and will play in their fourth straight regional final Friday. They'll have to go through Miami Jackson (7-4) in a Class 5A regional final, but they'll have the crowd in Belle Glade behind them.
Some of that crowd called for coach Roosevelt Blackmon's job in September, but Blackmon said he didn't let it affect him.
"I kept it in perspective," Blackmon said. "We're going to get there. We've got to keep believing. So when we were losing, they could see I was still positive."
He saw the inexperience and believed the Raiders' problems were fixable, and it appears they were.
"Everyone knows what they're doing as opposed to early in the season," Blackmon said. "We were thinking, on both sides of the ball. Now they're just doing."
No one on Glades Central's offensive line -- comprised of left tackle Jashaun Seider (6-3, 238), left guard James Moore (5-10, 270), center Jarvis Philibert (5-6, 189), right guard Adrian Henry (6-2, 266) and right tackle Steven Leggett (6-2, 239) -- played on the offensive line last year. Leggett and Seider are sophomores; the rest are juniors. In the Raiders' playoff wins over Rockledge and Merritt Island, they made expert blocks to spring Likely on touchdown runs and kept quarterback T.J. Abrams protected.
Abrams beat fellow incoming senior transfer Antwan Washington for the job, and has thrown for 1,298 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions. Junior Ronquavion Tarver, displaying potential at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, senior Yvesner Ferdinand and sophomore Jonathan Istache have been equally effective. Washington has become a versatile defensive player.
Neither senior David Bailey's size (5-10, 167) nor statistics (336 total yards, seven touchdowns) are impressive. But he lines up at safety and cornerback, adjusting his teammates as need be. He plays running back and receiver, taking advantage of opponents who key on Likely, who has 1,056 total yards and seven touchdowns.