After suffering through a pair of losing seasons his first two years on the Coral Springs Taravella football team, senior quarterback Lorenzo Jerome keyed a major turnaround last season.
Jerome, the Trojans’ starting quarterback, threw 10 touchdown passes and for nearly 1,000 yards last year to help Taravella win District 11-8A – its first district crown since 1986. Taravella went 2-8 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2009.
To stay at the top, however, Jerome knows there can be no slip-ups this season.
“We have a target on our backs this season,” Jerome said. “We worked real hard in the spring and we’re trying not to get too cocky after what we did last season because we know teams are gunning for us now.”
Jerome (6-0, 180 pounds), who completed 58 of 117 attempts as a junior, played linebacker during his Optimist football days with the Coral Springs Chargers. But Taravella coach Dan Marguriet moved him to quarterback when he noticed his powerful arm as a freshman.
Marguriet will likely count on that arm even more this season after the team’s leading rusher, Matt Humphries, graduated. Jerome’s efforts have attracted some interest from FCS schools such as Fordham, South Dakota State and Albany.
The Trojans need a younger offensive line, anchored by senior Graig Gaver and junior Siffo Pierre, to develop quickly and make the team’s offense potent again. Taravella still has playmakers in senior wide receivers Robert Muler and Kevin Humphries.
For Taravella, the upcoming season is about proving 2011 wasn’t a fluke and trying to elevate its program to an elite level.
The Trojans’ dream season ended quickly, however, after a 33-3 defeat at home to Weston Cypress Bay in the first round of the playoffs.
Jerome knows he and the other 12 returning starters on this year’s Taravella squad will have to step it up even more if they are to win their first playoff game since 2006.
“We need to win every game so everybody can recognize us,” Jerome said. “We were recognized last year, but we need to do it again to be truly recognized this year.”
A veteran South Plantation team that finished the district’s runner-up last year figures to be Taravella’s biggest obstacle to repeat as district champs.
The Paladins return a strong group led by Broward’s leading rusher in 2011 – senior Alex Collins (1,786 yards, 28 touchdowns). A solid passing game led by quarterback John Franklin and strong defense and special teams make South Plantation a strong contender to win its first district title since 2005.
Coral Springs had a strong start last season, winning its first six games, but lost three of its final four and missed the playoffs. The graduation of quarterback Evan Lassiter, cornerback Dion Witty and running back Jared Joyner – three of the team’s best – will make another run difficult. The Colts are hoping a defense led by seniors William Johnson and Devonte Witty will keep them in contention.
Deerfield Beach missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Bucks hope running backs Brandon Powell, Aeron McNeal and Anthony Thompson will inject some life into the team’s Wing-T offense and produce more wins than the five combined Deerfield Beach has mustered over the past two seasons.
Douglas hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007. The Eagles still have a solid defense despite the loss of defensive tackle Remaine Douglas, but need more points from an offense that averaged only 9.4 per game last year.
Piper will be led by a new coach this season as Neil Nelson, a former defensive coordinator at Everglades and South Plantation, will try to rebuild the Bengals.