In Dillard’s roller-coaster season of a seven-game winning streak followed by a 50-0 loss to arch rival Blanche Ely, the one constant has been star defensive ends Arthur “Rico” Kennedy and Randy Ramsey meeting at the quarterback.
The 6-4, 195-pound Kennedy and 6-3, 210-pound Ramsey have formed a devastating pass rushing duo with 39 1/2 combined sacks and will take aim at Carol City’s Trayone Gray, a highly touted UM commit, when Dillard (7-4) hosts Carol City (7-4) in the Region 4-6A quarterfinals on Friday.
An unlikely pairing of Kennedy, who has 20 sacks after taking off last season to focus on basketball and Ramsey, a converted defensive back with 19 1/2 sacks has given Dillard arguably the most disruptive defensive duo in the state.
“Randy and Rico make life easier for me,” Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said. “I believe they are among the best pass rushers in the country. Having two defensive ends like that puts pressure on the quarterback to make a quick decision. A couple seconds can change the whole game around.”
The added focus on blocking Kennedy, who also has four fumble recoveries, including two returned for touchdowns and Randy Ramsey (two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown) has opened the door for defensive tackles Aaron Thompson, Tremaine Herring and Malik White and an opportunistic secondary to make plays.
“It’s like a competition in house between Randy and I,” Kennedy said. “We find different ways to get to the quarterback, but both of us use speed. No tackle is going to step back faster than we are going to get off the ball. Coming around the corner is our biggest asset.”
How much pressure Kennedy and Ramsey apply against Gray will go a long way toward Dillard keeping its season alive.
Gray has thrown for 583 yards and six touchdowns but his greatest damage has been done on the ground, rushing for 1,064 yards and 11 touchdowns. Dillard’s plan is to keep him in the pocket.
But Carol City must slow Kennedy and Ramsey.
From keeping an extra running back in to block and moving their tackles wider off the line of scrimmage, offenses have had no shortage of creative schemes to negate the speed rush.
“It feels good to know offenses are game-planning around us,’’ Ramsey said. “The offense they plan on running, they can’t. Rico and I are so disruptive, getting off the ball fast and getting to the quarterback that teams have to come with something else.”
Kennedy and Ramsey were at their speed-rushing best against high-powered Hallandale and star sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley. Kennedy had three sacks, and Ramsey added a sack and a fumble recovery as the Panthers finished with seven sacks and upset the Chargers 22-15.
“Randy and I have that chemistry,’’ Kennedy said. “He knows what moves I’m going to use and I know what he’s going to do. Our goal every game is to get at least one sack. It’s really deflating for a team, it takes the life out of teams when they can’t run what they want.”
Dillard’s All-Broward forward Briana Green, a key figure in Dillard’s bid for a fifth consecutive FHSAA Class 5A girls’ basketball state title, signed a letter of intent with Southern University.
Green averaged 10.5 points last season but saved her best game for the Class 5A state semifinals against Lakewood, when she tied for a team-high 17 points in a 57-41 victory.
Green chose the Jaguars over Morgan State, Grambling State, UNC Asheville and North Alabama.
•American Heritage 40, Community School 30: AH (2-0):
Samons 2. Johnson 12. Moncrief 10. Osceola 3. Smith 10. Bradley 3.CS:
Paul 19. Bleh 1. Nadeau 6. Garousi 4. Rebounds: Bradley 10, Moncrief 10.
Flanagan at Deerfield Beach, 7:30
Monarch vs. Miramar (Miramar), 7:30
Miami Springs at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7:30
Plantation vs. American (Milander), 7:30
West Boca Raton vs. Blanche Ely (Ely), 7:30
Boyd Anderson vs. Dwyer (Home), 7:30
Carol City vs. Dillard (Dillard), 7:30
Naples Lely vs. American Heritage, 7:30
Cardinal Gibbons at Immokalee, 7:30
Gulliver vs. University (Nova), 7:30
Chaminade-Maddona at Cardinal Newman, 7:30