High School Sports

District 11-8A preview: Stars (such as WR Cavin Ridley) should align for Deerfield Beach

Wide receiver Cavin Ridley, who transferred to Deefield Beach from Monarch, should thrive in the Bucks’ new spread offense.
Wide receiver Cavin Ridley, who transferred to Deefield Beach from Monarch, should thrive in the Bucks’ new spread offense. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

There’s a section inside the Florida High School Athletic Association’s football record book that lists the schools with the most playoff appearances.

Listed among the perennial powers is Deerfield Beach. But the Bucks hold a special distinction among the 28 programs with at least 55 playoff appearances since 1963: They are the only team without a state title.

“It does baffle me, but more than that it motivates me, intrigues me,” first-year head coach Jevon Glenn said recently. “Maybe I can be that guy. Then, I’ll go down in Deerfield lore forever.”

Glenn, a 1996 All-Broward basketball star at rival Blanche Ely, knows about the Bucks’ storied history. He’s entering his ninth year at the school, having served as an assistant on the football, basketball and track teams.

Last season, the Bucks finished 4-6 — after an 11-1 record in 2013 — and missed the playoffs for only the third time since 1997. But thanks to a bevy of transfers and the dismantling of defending district champion Monarch, the Bucks are heavily favored to regain the top spot in District 11-8A and make a deep run in the playoffs. Maybe even to the school’s first state title.

“I think before we kind of got caught up in building to have a good team. Now we’re more focused on having a program,” Glenn said. “Our 2016 class is very good. We have kids committed to Florida, Miami and maybe another kid to Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia or Florida State. But our 2017 and 2018 classes are going to be better by far. My 2017 class alone I’ll have at least 10 to 12 Football Bowl Subdivision players. My sophomore class, I’ve got puppies that are grown dogs already.”

Added Glenn: “We were running Wing-T [offense] for years. We converted over to the spread, and we’re going to be a multiple offense as well. We have a younger staff as well. Nowadays, you’ve got to be out there. … You’ve got to meet the kids pretty much at Pee Wee football and develop a relationship with the kids through that. The Deerfield Packer Rattlers are one of the top organizations here in South Florida. Right now we have over 50 kids that were Packer Rattlers. Last year we finished the season with only 33 varsity players. We just needed a new energy.”

That new energy, Glenn said, brought back kids that belonged to Deerfield Beach in the first place. In all, he says, 12 current starters had to sit out the spring because of transfer rules.

Quarterback Ted Moffett (Ely) and receivers Cavin Ridley (Monarch) and Jerry Jeudy (Monarch) were chief among them. All three will infuse a Bucks offense that struggled last season to replace its star-studded backfield from 2013 that featured 1,000-yard backs Brandon Powell (Florida) and Aeron McNeal (UAB). With offensive tackles Roodney Leon (6-3, 290) and Alfred Smith (6-0, 260) returning, Glenn expects to light up the scoreboard.

“Cavin Ridley is a beast. He’s a flat-out stud,” said Glenn, who refers to Ridley as his workout partner and trainer. “He’s going to play receiver for us primarily, but he’s going to play a little running back too. We’ll put him a little on defense too.”

Defensively, senior safety James Pierre (6-2, 170) and cornerback Aaron Robinson (6-1, 173) lead an FBS-loaded secondary. Pierre is committed to the University of Miami; Robinson to Florida.

“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve had since I’ve been at Deerfield and you can add Denard [Robinson] and Brandon [Powell] to that list,” Glenn said of Pierre. “His football IQ may be higher than all those guys. He can just see things and read things. He’s ahead of his time. To me, he’s a longer, taller Ed Reed.”

The Bucks will most likely be challenged by Douglas for the top spot in the district. The Eagles finished third in the district last year behind Coral Springs and Monarch.

DISTRICT 11-8A OVERVIEW

TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER

▪ Cavin Ridley, Deerfield Beach: The 6-1, 200-pound transfer from Monarch will be used all over the field on offense. The four-star recruit who has Alabama and Florida at the top of his list caught 25 passes for 586 yards and six touchdowns last season at Monarch.

TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER

▪ James Pierre, Deerfield Beach: The 6-2, 170-pound safety and University of Miami commitment nicknamed Hurricane Jamie will be a wrecking ball in the secondary for the Bucks alongside teammate and University of Florida commitment Aaron Robinson (6-1, 173).

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Deerfield Beach; 2. Douglas; 3. Coral Springs; 4. Taravella; 5. Piper; 6. Monarch.

CAN’T-MISS GAMES

Aug. 28: Douglas at Flanagan; Sept. 18: Coral Springs at Deerfield Beach; Sept. 25: Jacksonville Bolles at Deerfield Beach; Oct. 2: Coral Springs at Douglas; Oct. 9: St. Thomas Aquinas at Deerfield Beach; Oct. 16: Douglas at Deerfield Beach; Oct. 23: Douglas at Taravella; Oct. 30: Taravella at Coral Springs.

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