Post Top 25 countdown: No. 13 Boca Raton
Sunday, August 19, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Familiar faces like Kevin Anderson, Ced Bryant and Tard McCoy will take the field for Boca Raton this fall, and coach Lewis Burnham, who was the interim head coach for seven games last fall, became the full-time leader in the offseason.
None of that can prevent the Bobcats from feeling they got a fresh start after the 2011 season, which was derailed at the end of September by the dismissal of former head coach Keith Byars. Controversy surrounded his departure from the school, and the Bobcats, while competitive in most of their games, lost five of seven under Burnham and finished 3-7.
But Burnham started the transition in his first week on the job, which luckily for him was a bye week, and the team he inherited immediately at season's end had already started its learning process. By the time the offseason programs and spring practices came, Burnham's group knew his lingo and what he wanted.
"One of my main goals was to get the team to come together as much as possible," Burnham said. "I mean, that was goal No. 1. We've done that."
No one will dispute Boca's year-in, year-out talent level. It's almost always one of the largest teams in the area, in both number and size. And there's always talent, like speedsters Bryant and McCoy, who will play both defensive back and receiver for Burnham.
Getting the mental aspect of the Bobcats in order after such a frustrating, tumultuous season last fall was major, and speeding up the learning process of Anderson, Boca's star quarterback, could make a huge difference, too.
Anderson (6-feet-2, 210 pounds) committed to Marshall last month, and it seems he did the same to his progression-reading and decision-making. His daily battles against Bryant and McCoy, who play first-team defense against him in practice, have pushed him to new heights.
"We've been rolling more coverage, disguising coverage in practice," Burnham said. "He's been doing a great job picking it up. I really think he's primed for a great senior season."
Expect Boca to stick with the multiple offensive sets that Byars ran, varying from I-formations with a fullback and halfback to four- and five-receiver sets that allow Anderson to spread defenses out.
But most of all, expect the Bobcats to be far more coherent now that they've had a full offseason to grow together under Burnham.
"We feel like we're pretty strong across the board," Burnham said. "Now it's just up to us to motivate them."