Post Top 25 countdown: No. 19 Village Academy
Thursday, August 16, 2012
by Matt Porter
Village Academy reached an important milestone in February, when wide receiver Devonte Robinson signed with West Virginia, becoming the first Tigers player to receive a Division I scholarship.
While Village couldn't earn its first playoff appearance last year in its third varsity season, it has a prime opportunity this fall, even without Robinson.
Village must contend with reloaded Glades Day in District 7-2A, but the Tigers begin the year as the favorite to take home the district's second playoff spot. Jupiter Christian, which has been a post-season lock for several years and routed Village 40-0 last season, is rebuilding.
Couple that with Village's talent -- dual-threat quarterback Larry Brihm, block-busting senior running back Erich Maine and eight returning starters on defense -- and the Tigers could be the ones asserting themselves down the stretch this season.
"I expect us to be competitive in our district," coach Don Hanna said. "We were competitive last year. Take a look at the Glades Day game (a 35-24 loss). We were right there offensively, but we could not stop that animal out there in Belle Glade, Kelvin Taylor."
Last year, Robinson, who had 31 catches for an area-best 950 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, and Kenny Williams (414 yards, three touchdowns) helped make Brihm the most efficient, productive quarterback in the area. The Tigers lose both players, plus productive receiver, defensive back and return man Fritz Narcisse, who transferred to Atlantic.
Now Brihm, who threw for 2,252 yards, 21 touchdowns and four interceptions on 64 percent passing, has greater responsibility.
"He's improved in every aspect," Hanna said of the 6-foot, 212-pound senior. Brihm has a Bethune-Cookman offer to play quarterback, but other schools are recruiting him as a safety. "There are some naysayers out there, who don't view him as a true quarterback. He's always been a talented athlete, but his mechanics are much better."
Senior Rurel Allen (6-2, 180) will become Brihm's top target. Maine (6-0, 220) will get the bulk of the carries and anchor the middle of the defense, which also includes improving junior tackle Kevin Bronson (6-3, 235).
Village will tune up with a kickoff classic against Palm Beach Central and tough early season matchups against Treasure Coast and Hollywood-Chaminade. After that, the Lions will focus on achieving another first.
"We went 7-3 last year and didn't make the playoffs," Hanna said. "If we do what we do, we'll be in every game. That's all I can ask for."