Muck Bowl victory will ease sting of tough season for Pahokee or Glades Central
Thursday, November 08, 2012
by Matt Porter
For Pahokee and Glades Central, this year's Muck Bowl is just as anticipated as ever.
But not because of dozens of BCS prospects on either sideline, waiting to give thousands of fans a show. Not because it's a final grudge match between heavyweights on their way to state titles.
It's because both teams need some of the healing Muck Bowl glory can provide.
"Both teams need some joy," Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said. "Both teams need something to be happy about."
Both teams have a lot to forget. Glades Central (5-4) wants to shake the memories of the worst start in its 40-year history. A win would be the season highlight for Pahokee (4-4), which has nine wins over the last three years and hasn't won the Muck Bowl since 2007.
After starting 0-4, Glades Central has won five straight games and the District 14-5A title. But as the Raiders assessed the playoff road ahead, they were hit with another setback.
On Sunday, senior Greg Beckford, a rotation player at offensive tackle, was involved in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He remains hospitalized in Fort Myers with a head injury.
Glades Central coach Roosevelt Blackmon, who addressed the topic with his team on Monday, said further details are unknown.
"He was one of those emotional kids," Blackmon said. "He would do something to fire up the whole team. We're all using it as motivation."
Pahokee has struggled with setbacks of its own. It was already in a "rebuilding era," Thompson said, rather than a rebuilding year. And then his team was hit with what he called "the year of the injury."
The Blue Devils have lost six standout players due to injuries. In Week 1 against Palm Beach Lakes, freshman receiver Jason Johnson suffered a broken leg, the same injury that would later end junior Jonathan Jordan's season. Junior Trent Laidler (dislocated elbow), may be cleared this week after six weeks on the shelf.
Last week against Village Academy, Pahokee lost the three skill players it uses at quarterback - all in the second quarter. Senior James Johnson (dislocated elbow), junior Rashaun Croney (knee) and junior Derry Brown (ankle sprain) are unlikely to play in the Muck Bowl.
But there was good news. Sophomore tailback Jay Hopson moved under center. His 146 rushing yards helped Pahokee to a 32-20 win.
The Raiders never mess around in the Muck Bowl, having outscored Pahokee 128-0 over the last two years. But coming off that unlikely win over Village, Thompson believes his team has a chance Friday.
"I think they're beatable," Thompson said. "They're starting to peak like we're starting to peak."
Come kickoff time, Anquan Boldin Stadium might seem a lot like Muck Bowls past. The sweet smells of barbecue will fill the air, and fans will swirl in the stands, parking lots and corridors. And two teams will leave behind all the pain and disappointment of the previous months.
"You're going to get your money's worth," Blackmon said.