Taravella (1-3) at Coral Glades (2-2)
When: Friday, September 23, 7:00 P.M. E.T.
Where: Coral Springs Sportsplex
The last time that Coral Glades defeated Taravella was the same year that the iPhone was first released. In 2007, the Jaguars took a 20-14 victory home in the third annual Swamp Bowl between the crosstown rivals. Since then, the Trojans have won six straight and lead the all-time series 7-2.
Last year, the Trojans came out victorious once again in the rivalry game by a score of 30-7. The year before a whopping 52-0. And three years ago, 44-6. 2012 was the last time that the Swamp Bowl was played at Coral Glades and after the game a violent fight broke out between the fans of the two schools.
Needless to say, despite the one-sidedness of the series, this rivalry runs deep.
To add fuel to the fire, junior quarterback Cameron Brooks transferred from Taravella to Coral Glades in the middle of his sophomore season as a Trojan after a season-ending injury.
Brooks will return to action this week against the Trojans, after sitting out of last week’s loss to Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale) due to concussion-like symptoms.
WHAT TO KNOW: In a very short time, head coach Christian Baldwin has reversed the culture of a losing football team in the Coral Glades Jaguars. A team that is just two years removed from a winless season is playing winning football.
At 2-2, with games against Key West and North Broward Prep looming, the Jaguars realize the importance of this game more than ever. The confidence of taking down their long-time rival could be just what the team needs to get back on track, having dropped back-to-back games to Archbishop McCarthy and Calvary Christian by large margins.
OFFENSE: The Coral Glades offense saw great success in the first two games of the season, but were severely outmatched when facing off against Archbishop McCarthy and Calvary Christian. In the first two games, the Jaguars averaged 45 points per game and have since been held to just six, coming on a kick return during Week 3.
In the season opener, quarterback Cameron Brooks was responsible for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing), completing 11 passes to five different receivers for 228 yards. The Jaguars were able to get off to a hot start against Inlet Grove and never looked back. In the game against Pompano Beach, the aerial attack was limited by a talented secondary led by John Padgett, who had two interceptions in the contest.
If the offensive line can find Brooks time to find his favorite targets in Ricky Williamson, Anthony Spoto, and Donovan Samuels Jr., the offense will shine the way they did in Weeks 1 and 2. And if Brooks is succeeding in the passing game, that opens up the door in the ground game for Dion Gonzalez-Laporte and Leif Nilsson.
DEFENSE: The Jaguars defense, though talented, often yields huge plays that give up points, evidenced by a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Pompano Beach just seconds into the game. However, the team does make up for lapses with big plays of their own. Cornerback Shannon Bent came up with two huge interceptions in the win over Pompano Beach in the fourth quarterback, and he is complemented by the team’s leading tackler, Alfonzo Dixon, in the secondary. Up front, Juan Rodriguez, Nicholas Rocha and Brandon Fisher, who leads the team in sacks, clash with opposing offensive lines.
WHAT TO KNOW: The Trojans enter Friday’s game coming off a 28-6 loss at the hands of the Monarch Knights. While the Jaguars program is on the rise, Taravella has steadily declined over the years. From an 8-2 season in 2012, the Trojans posted just two wins in last season’s campaign. However, one of those wins was against the Jaguars, in a home game played at Piper High School in Sunrise.
OFFENSE: Through four games, the Trojans offense, led by mobile quarterback William Woolridge, is averaging just 15 points per game. Their season high is just 20 points, while the Jaguars average 24. After appearing to have found their rhythm in a 20-0 victory over South Plantation, the offense managed just six points in a loss to Monarch.
Woolridge’s ability to throw the ball on the run and make plays on the ground, taking off from the pocket, may cause the Jaguars’ defense problems. The defense’s inability to limit opposing offenses puts pressure on Woolridge and the Trojans offense to score large in large volumes.
DEFENSE: The Trojans defense is a glaring weakness for the team. Apart from the shutout against South Plantation, the Taravella defense has surrendered at least 25 points in every game so far, all losses.
To contain the Jaguars offense, who will look to get out to an early lead, the Trojans secondary will have to make plays on the ball. The Jaguars’ passing attack poses a much greater threat than their ground game, and the Trojans will be prepared for a pass-heavy game plan, dropping back linebackers to assist in the secondary.
GAME OUTLOOK: If Cameron Brooks can find his receivers and stay on his feet, rather than on the ground, look for the Jaguars to come out victorious in the Swamp Bowl for the first time in eight years. The X-factor for the Jaguars is Samuel Oshodi. The junior wide receiver has returned two kicks (one punt, one kickoff) in four games and the Jaguars will look to incorporate him in the offense any way possible. But if the Jaguars defense gives up key plays to the Trojans offense, they may fall short in the contest and the streak will continue. Woolridge will look to lead his team’s attack, specifically a rushing approach against a Jaguars defense that has struggled against perennial rushing offenses.
Tensions will boil when both teams hit the field for a Coral Springs classic Friday night.
PREDICTION: Coral Glades 27, J.P. Taravella 17
NOTE: This game will be shown live tomorrow night on FloridaHSFootball.com through streaming partner HSPN Sports.