Post Top 25 countdown: No. 7 Palm Beach Central
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
by Matt Porter
As a school, Palm Beach Central is 9 years old. Coach Rod Harris figures that's long enough to wait for a playoff win.
"Seven and three was a step forward," he said. "We want to take another this year."
The Broncos followed their 7-3 regular season with a 17-7 loss to Seminole Ridge in the Class 8A regional quarterfinals, their first playoff appearance. If expectations are met, they'll celebrate their first playoff win this season.
Expectations are highest for junior left tackle Kc McDermott, who is just shy of 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds and has a mountain-size list of BCS programs recruiting him.
A McDermott has worn No. 52 on varsity in every year of the school's history. Tyler, Kc's oldest brother, played at Colorado State. Shane is the starting center for Miami.
"After (2014, when Kc graduates), I don't know if we're going to see that number again," Harris said.
Senior Nickedel Pierre (6-3, 310), who transferred from Santaluces, will play right tackle. Senior left guard Dan Beckwith (5-10, 240) and junior right guard Connor Giragos (6-2, 235) are strong and smart. Senior center Hunter Thompson has remade himself: at 5-foot-10, he dropped 50 pounds and is now under 300.
After a 3-3 start to last season, Harris took over offensive play-calling duties. The Broncos finished 4-1, averaging 26.7 points per game. Despite questions at quarterback -- senior Kyle Shafer and junior Brad Stein battled for the starting job in camp -- they should score more this season.
Senior running back Ray Wilson had a team-high 889 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries. Senior Lloyd Howard, who missed half of last season because of a suspension, will be be a threat on defense and in the return game. Junior Tommy McDonald showed well in limited carries. Six-foot-2 junior wideout Rudolph St. Germain could make an impact.
Central was hurt on defense last year even before losing six starters -- two to Miami (defensive end Gabe Terry, corner Angelo Jean-Louis) and one to UConn (corner Jhavon Williams). To counter that, Harris brought on former Glades Central and Suncoast defensive coordinator Tony Smith, a strong presence on campus.
"The kids have bought into him from Day 1," Harris said. "He's going to put people in a position to succeed." Harris is similarly excited about new offensive line coach Glenn Maiolini, who coached at Hialeah and Coconut Creek-Monarch.
The Broncos will have to beat some of the area's best to return to the playoffs. District 10-8A includes Boca Raton, John I. Leonard and Park Vista. Non-league games with Royal Palm Beach, Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Gardens won't be easy.
"We just want to build off last year," Harris said. "Our goal is better than 7-3, better than getting knocked out in the first round."