Post Top 25 countdown: No. 5 Fort Pierce Central
Thursday, August 23, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Josh Shaffer, Fort Pierce Central's second-year coach, said his team needed a rude awakening this spring, even if it didn't know it at the time.
Dwyer provided that, bum-rushing Central's overwhelmed offensive line and forcing Shaffer to think critically about his team's focus (and quarterback situation). Central lost that game 43-26, a much closer final ledger than the way the contest actually played out.
"We have a renewed energy and enthusiasm now," said Shaffer, who at 27 is the youngest head coach in the area. "We were more concerned with getting kids promoted to colleges, getting them recruited. But it was good we played such a great team. It woke us up."
Now the focus turns to Shaffer's sophomore season and the second edition of his no-huddle pistol spread, which surprised and confused so many opponents that Central finished 9-2 and reached the Class 7A regional finals, losing 13-10 to eventual state champion Bradenton-Manatee. In that run, the Cobras averaged 38.9 points and produced more than 4,000 yards of total offense.
Marcus Levy, the focal point of last year's offense with 1,382 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, returns at running back. He verbally committed to Cincinnati in the offseason.
Central also brings back a loaded receiving corps -- which includes speedsters Josh Knight, J.J. Stevens and Alquan Vickers -- but it needs to find a replacement for quarterback Marcus Sigmon, a steady-handed starter who completed 64 percent of his passes and threw only seven interceptions last fall.
That battle hasn't been decided yet: DeMarcus Semer started the spring game but struggled, while Sam Vaughn will get his shot in Friday's kickoff classic against Treasure Coast.
"A lot of it depends on Friday's game," Shaffer said of picking his starter.
In the meantime, kids like James Matthews, a senior who started his freshman year at about 5-feet-8, 450 pounds but has slimmed down to 6-1, 280, provide perfect examples of Central's newly refocused team. In four years, he's gone from not being able to get in a three-point stance to clogging the middle at nose tackle and lining up at guard in Central's goal-line formations.
That's the kind of story Shaffer wants to tell about his team -- revitalized and awakened.
"I'm not concerned about reaching the (regional finals) or winning nine games," Shaffer said. "This team is different. It's about reaching this team's potential, and concentrating on what makes us tick was a huge step this fall."