Miramar and Flanagan each climbed its way to the top and secured the first state championships in school history in recent years.
But one of Broward County’s most successful public school programs has yet to accomplish that feat.
Deerfield Beach has had plenty of talented players step on its football field through the years — from receivers Jerry Jeudy and Brandon Powell to quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Brent Schaeffer.
None of them experienced what it was like to be a state champion.
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The 2017 Bucks might change all of that.
As evidenced in its victories against Chaminade-Madonna and Miami Carol City so far, Deerfield Beach’s defense promises to be one of the nation’s best.
Senior linebacker Ashtan Pierre, who has the University of Miami among his many college suitors, leads a unit that also includes senior Kenny Bastida and Rosendo Louis, who is high on FSU’s radar, as well as Ge’Mon Eaford, who is rated one of the state’s top juniors.
The secondary is led by Oklahoma commit Miguel Edwards.
That unit played a big role last season in leading Deerfield to the Class 8A state semifinals where it lost to eventual champion Miami Southridge.
But the Spartans overwhelmed the Bucks offense that night, recording double-digits in sacks.
That’s a problem Deerfield hopes to have corrected this season.
The Bucks have beefed up their offensive line with players such as 6-5, 270-pound senior Despelado Alexandre.
Junior quarterback Tyron Herring has shown glimpses of his potential running an offense that has no shortage of weapons.
Purdue commit Cornelius McCoy is among the group of receivers that will step up as well as a backfield featuring sophomore Jaylan Knighton and Jakari Norwood.
If everything clicks on that side of the ball, the Bucks will be a scary opponent for any team in their path including the team they play on Oct. 6 — St. Thomas Aquinas, a squad with their sights set on winning a third national championship.
1. St. Thomas Aquinas: The Raiders entered the season ranked in the top five of every major national poll.
There isn’t a single noticeable weakness on their defense.
Nik Bonitto leads a defensive front of superstars that showed how dominant they can be in their opening week victory over St. John Bosco.
The secondary of Asante Samuel, Al Blades, Jr., Jordan Battle, Jaden Davis and several more is arguably the best in the country.
The offense is also strong with a solid line led by Demji Jean and Jason Swann making room for a strong stable of running backs that includes Daniel Carter.
If junior Curt Casteel can continue to develop into a prolific quarterback with receivers Elijah Moore and Tavares Kelly among his many weapons on offense, expect Aquinas to go unblemished in its march to Orlando.
The Raiders face one more out-of-state test in late September against Centennial in Arizona and some local formidable opponents such as Deerfield Beach.
But national title No. 3 is within reach.
2. Deerfield Beach: As I stated above, the Class 8A favorites reside on the northern edge of Broward.
3. Miramar: Perhaps the most intriguing team among the large schools in Broward this year. Former interim and assistant coach A.J. Scott returned in the offseason to try to lead the Patriots to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Miramar is young overall, but talented and capable of making an impact in the chase for the Class 8A state title. If the Patriots mature quickly, expect them to challenge for the district title and contend with Deerfield Beach in the long run.
4. Western: The Wildcats shocked Miramar late last season with a fourth quarter comeback that propelled them to their first playoff appearance since 2010. While many are still giving Miramar the benefit of the doubt as far as who will win District 12-8A, expect Western with its high-powered offense and playmaking defense to try to prove the doubters wrong. At least another playoff appearance is likely.
5. Dillard: Ricky Hemingway takes over after the departure of longtime coach Lorenzo Davis and seems to have enough to keep the Panthers in contention to win the District 15-6A title. Cornerback Stanley Garner, a Kentucky commit, and wide receiver Bryce Oliver are two of the leaders of the team and should push Dillard back to the playoffs where it is likely to face a major obstacle from Miami-Dade County once again.
6. Boyd Anderson: UCF commit Avery Thornton leads a Cobras team that is younger this season, but still hopes to secure a playoff berth in Region 4-6A.
7. Blanche Ely: Another team with designs on the postseason. With Aquinas in their district, it’s doubtful the Tigers walk away with that trophy. But with athletes such as senior Yanez Rogers leading the way it’s likely they accomplish their playoff goal.
8. Piper: Expect a slow start with games against Norland and St. Thomas early, but the Bengals should be in the hunt for a playoff spot.
9. Douglas: Is this the year the Eagles return to the postseason for the first time since 2007?
10. Plantation: Longtime coach Steve Davis is back, but can he take the Colonels back to the playoffs that quickly?
RANKING THE REST
11. Cypress Bay; 12. McArthur; 13. South Broward; 14. West Broward; 15. Everglades; 16. Archbishop McCarthy; 17. Fort Lauderdale; 18. Flanagan; 19. South Plantation; 20. Monarch; 21. Cooper City; 22. Nova; 23. Coral Springs; 24. Taravella; 25. Northeast; 26. Hollywood Hills.