Football playoffs | South plantation vs. Miramar

Paladins defense built on its speed


South Plantation’s offense has gotten most of the attention, but the defense has been more than capable this season.

South Plantation’s football team has enjoyed plenty of attention during its 9-1 regular season, but most of the spotlight has shined on offense.

When TV cameras haven’t come out to film and talk to Broward County leading rusher Alex Collins or quarterback John Franklin (a Florida State commitment), third-string quarterback Erin Dimeglio has been busy doing interviews herself.

“Yeah, we don’t get a whole lot of love on this side,” senior safety Hordly Seide said of the Paladins defense Thursday.

Truth is, coach Doug Gatewood’s no-name defense should get a little more attention.

Despite returning only one starter from a year ago — defensive tackle Gamal Stewart — the Paladins own the third-stingiest scoring defense in Broward County.

Only Class 3A University School (4.2 points) and 5A American Heritage (5.7) have allowed fewer points than South Plantation, which gave up 92 points total on the season (21 points of which were given up on special teams or by the offense).

The Paladins have put up three shutouts — including one last week over high-scoring rival Plantation.

Being stingy again in Friday night’s first-round playoff game against perennial postseason power Miramar (6-4) will be key. The Patriots’ Dark Side defense comes in giving up just 12.2 points per game.

“Alex Collins and John Franklin are wonderful, but our defense has been the overwhelming surprise this season,” said Gatewood, who took over the defense this season after former coordinator Neil Nelson left to take the head coaching job at Piper.

“When we put the team together it was always, ‘You guys on offense score seven more than we give up here because we’re going to give up a lot.’ But these kids have held their own and then some. I’m proud of them.”

Size isn’t a big component to the Paladins defense. Speed is. Stewart (6-2, 250) is the biggest player in South Plantation’s 50 front.

But the guy who is the busiest at making stops is 5-10, 172-pound senior middle linebacker Henry Monprevil, who has more than 120 tackles, according to Gatewood.

“He looks like nothing, and he plays out of his shoes every freaking week,” Gatewood said.

“Our defense is all about unselfishness. It’s all about funneling it back to the linebackers and letting them make plays.”

Seide, who blocked a field goal to preserve the district tiebreaker win over Deerfield Beach, is the only starter on the Paladins defense with a scholarship offer. The 6-foot, 180-pound speedster has one from Memphis.

Except for talented sophomore defensive end Rodrick Archer (6-0, 190), who is garnering a lot looks from colleges, the remainder of the Paladins defensive starters are made up of a group of undersized, overachievers.

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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