Last year at Deerfield Beach it was all about the Big 3: quarterback Danarious Graham, and running backs Brandon Powell and Aeron McNeal.
This year it starts for the Bucks with the Big 2: 6-4, 250-pound defensive end Jason Strowbridge and 6-3, 320-pound two-way lineman Montel Jordan.
“I know we lost the Big 3, but we have a lot of young kids coming back and we’re solid up front,” said coach Allen Jackson, who guided the Bucks to their first undefeated regular season last year, the District 11-8A crown and its first playoff victory since 2008.
Strowbridge, who will also see some playing time at tight end, has more than 20 scholarship offers, with Miami, Kentucky and Alabama at the top of his list. Some media outlets reported this spring Strowbridge had committed to UM, but he said Saturday that was a misunderstanding.
“Miami is a great environment,” he said. “I’ve been there a lot of times. I know all the coaches, and it’s close to home. I like Kentucky because I like the defensive ends coach and coordinator, and I know they’ve put like eight guys in the NFL. I like the atmosphere there. Alabama, I haven’t been there yet. I’ll visit there as an official.”
Strowbridge had 12 sacks last season and is aiming for at least 15 this year.
Jordan, who is being recruited as both an offensive guard and tackle, has 18 scholarship offers. He hasn’t taken any official visits yet, but he said East Carolina, Marshall, Temple and Louisville are recruiting him the hardest.
Strowbridge and Jordan said losing to Miramar 43-6 in the second round of the playoffs last season was a humbling experience. Their goal this year is to get the Bucks past that point of the playoffs.
“What I loved most about the way the Big 3 led us last year was the way they wore their hearts on their sleeves,” Strowbridge said. “I want to be that same type of leader.”
DISTRICT 11-8A• Team to beat: The Monarch Knights, last year’s district runner-up, bring back nine starters on offense and seven on defense from the first squad in school history to reach the state playoffs. Calvin Ridley, the nation’s No. 1-ranked receiver according to Rivals.com, and Shawn Burgess-Becker (6-0, 194) are both committed to Alabama. Quarterback Michael Harris lit up Broward County last season with 2,971 yards on 169 of 229 passing for 31 touchdowns.
• New face: Coral Springs coach Rashad West comes over from Webber International, where he served as the receivers coach. The former head coach at Western (7-3 in 2012) is installing new schemes — spread, single-back option offense and an odd defensive front.
• Biggest game: Monarch at Deerfield Beach, Oct. 17.
• Predicted order of finish: 1. Monarch; 2. Deerfield Beach; 3. South Plantation; 4. Douglas; 5. Taravella; 6. Piper; 7. Coral Springs.