4. Boyd Anderson: The Cobras earned their first district title since 2008 last season, but were stripped of it when the FHSAA ruled they had used ineligible players. This year’s team seems capable of winning the district again behind big offensive tackle Sandley Jean-Felix (6-5, 325) and quarterback Greg Hankerson, who threw for 1,962 yards, 19 TDs and 8 INTs last season. The secondary, featuring Larry Hill (5-10, 175) and Tayshawn Griffith (6-0, 190), should be very good.
5. South Plantation: Coach Doug Gatewood said he had a special sophomore class two years ago. A year after leading the Paladins to their first playoff appearance since 2007, those sophomores-turned-seniors will try to win their first district title since 2005 and go deep into the playoffs.
Reigning Broward County rushing leader Alex Collins — among those 2010 sophomores — has gained 25 pounds since last season and should improve on the 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns he produced in 2011. Defense could ultimately be the Paladins’ Achilles heel.
6. Ely: Former Tigers quarterback Charles Hafley Jr. has returned home and is hoping to restore tradition. Ely caught a break and made the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons when rival Boyd Anderson was forced to forfeit its district title. This year, star cornerback Rashard Robinson — among five starters back on each side of the ball — will try and guide them there by slowing down the star receiver and team listed right below.
7. Northeast: The Hurricanes rebounded from an 0-4 start to reach the regional semifinals last season. If Northeast is going to go farther than last year, it will need to find a dependable quarterback to get star receiver Stacy Coley (6-1, 175) the ball. Defensively, coach Donnell Bennett said his team will bring a lot of pressure with the blitz and allow its talented secondary to make plays.
8. McArthur: The Mustangs extinguished a 16-game losing streak and were a 7-4 pleasant surprise in 2011. Now, Andrew Rhoden’s squad — loaded with freshman and sophomore talent — will experience being the hunted. Junior transfer Terrell Bonds, who threw for 2,046 yards and 21 TDs and ran for 406 last year at Orlando Liberty High, will be one of two triggermen in the Mustangs’ spread offense. If all the young guys can settle into a role around him, McArthur should be playoff-bound.
9. Plantation: The Colonels bring back eight defensive starters, including BCS-caliber recruits in cornerback Sojourn Shelton (5-10, 170) and defensive tackle Monty Nelson (6-2, 300). The key to success, though, will be on the offensive line, according to coach Steve Davis. If his team can’t score more than it did last year (it averaged just 13 points a game), the Colonels will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
10. Taravella: Thirteen starters are back for the Trojans, who made the quick turnaround from two wins in 2010 to district champions in 2011. If they’re going to repeat that feat, senior Lorenzo Jerome is going to need some help.
11. Deerfield Beach: The Bucks’ 13-year run of playoff appearances finally came to an end last season even though the team actually won one more game than it did in 2010. Junior tailback Brandon Powell (5-9, 175) and nine other returning starters on offense — many of whom play both ways — might get Deerfield back in the playoffs in 2012.
12. Stranahan: Size up front won’t be an issue for the Dragons. With district runner-up Pembroke Pines Charter getting hit hard by graduation, Hollywood Hills welcoming in a new coach and Archbishop McCarthy still trying to find its footing, expect a new district champion.
The rest: 13. Cooper City, 14. Flanagan, 15. South Broward, 16. Everglades, 17. Western, 18. Monarch, 19. Archbishop McCarthy, 20. Hollywood Hills, 21. West Broward, 22. Coral Springs; 23. Fort Lauderdale; 24. Pines Charter; 25. Douglas; 26. Nova; 27. Coconut Creek; 28. Coral Glades; 29. Piper.