Glades Central looks to continue strong season by plowing past Pahokee
Thursday, November 11, 2010
by Matt Porter
Even without star receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Glades Central is a near lock to win Friday night's Muck Bowl, and a heavy favorite to advance to the Class 2B state finals.
Both teams are young, but while Pahokee (3-6) has struggled, Glades Central (8-1) has grown up strong and hopes to use the game as a springboard for the postseason.
"Hopefully they'll play well and it'll build their confidence," Glades Central coach Jessie Hester said. "You don't want to go into the playoffs with any doubt."
Without Benjamin, who is no longer eligible to play due to age restrictions, the Raiders' offense has begun to run more. For the first time since its season-opening win against Dallas-Skyline, Glades Central racked up more rushing yards than passing (228-127) in last week's 39-0 win over Suncoast.
Benjamin, who attends a couple Raiders practices a week and will play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl on Dec. 31 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was a safety net for quarterback Jamarious Rowley. Benjamin's size (6-foot-6) and ability to catch anything thrown near him meant Rowley could get away mistakes. Now, Rowley must scan the defense in greater detail before the snap, and ensure his throws are pinpoint.
"We're going to go as he goes offensively," Hester said. "We need to make sure he's comfortable out there, and doing everything that we ask of him."
Hester's receivers - juniors Jaime Wilson and Jaqavein Oliver, and seniors Davonte Allen and Robert Burgess - are adjusting to their new roles as well. Any one of them could be the No. 1 wideout on a given night.
"None of them have the ability that K.B. had, but they're all very capable of going out and having big games," Hester said.
Glades Central's aggressive defense has allowed a touchdown or less in six of its nine games. Senior defensive end Robert Way, last year's Palm Beach Post Small Schools Defensive Player of the Year, has a team-high 13 tackles for loss.