The Blue Darters will once again be one of the best teams in the state of Florida. With big-time returning talent and a plethora of underclassmen ready to prove their worth, Apopka is primed to make a run for the 8A state championship.
By Brian Smith @fbscout_florida
It’s March. Why would anyone proclaim a team a title contender? This is Apopka, not just your ordinary run of the mill program. The Blue Darters are one of the most tradition-rich programs Florida has to offer, and this year’s roster is loaded yet again.
With talent on offense and defense, it’s simply a matter of finding chemistry and closing out close games that cost the 2020 Blue Darters. Will this team take the next step? Let’s take a look.
The quarterback position loses Appalachian State signee Jaquan Lowman, who will play wide receiver or defensive back at the college level. The Blue Darters are expected to introduce a spread offense, so there’s plenty of time to talk quarterback once spring ball arrives in May. Until then, let’s focus on returning players for Apopka before moving onto the young guns.
Defense Rules The Day
There’s never a time when Apopka’s defense is truly down. There’s ample talent yet again, and it’s just a matter of which position does one want to start with? Let’s go with the trenches first.
There will not be many better 2023 defensive line prospects than national recruit Kaven Call. The 6-3, 240-pound DE/DT moves around and creates havoc wherever he lines up. A premier athlete that’s continuing to get bigger and stronger, Call’s best attribute is his ability to penetrate and disrupt plays. Because teams will be watching Call closely, several teammates need to step up. It could be a class of 2024 player, however, that truly makes this line special.
It’s rare that a freshman makes an impact along Apopka’s defensive line, but Demetric Hill did that last year. He was a bit undersized at 6-2, 220-pounds, but he still lined up along the interior and made plays in the backfield. Much like Call, Hill can shoot a gap and blow up a running play. Hill is the next prospect to watch at the always loaded Apopka program.
At linebacker, this is a very experienced and talented group. With Travion Barnes and Josiah Robinson patrolling the middle of the field, the Blue Darters possess speed, experience, and physicality. It’s one of the best 1-2 punches at linebacker in the state of Florida, and both will play college football.
In the secondary, Apopka has plenty of talent as well. Nikai Martinez is a national recruit at one cornerback, and Myller Terameau is an undervalued corner on the other side of the field. They will both be difficult to pass on moving forward.
On the offensive side of the football, more consistency is needed up front. With that in mind, the spread offensive attack should help Apopka keep defenses honest. That means more individual matchups, and that includes the best young offensive lineman on the team.
It’s time for 2023 offensive tackle prospect Tai Ray to maximize his talent. This is a young man that stands out amongst numerous Division I athletes. He’s very long and just now growing into his body. The big offensive tackle is 6-6, 275-pounds and can move his feet quite well.
If the Blue Darters can depend on Ray to be the go-to player to run behind, the skill talent will be even more effective than it already is. Speaking of, here are a few offensive weapons to remember.
Do not allow his height to fool you. The 5-7, 175-pound Keondray Jones is a jitterbug that can run around a defender, but can also plow forward and gain yards after contact. He’s probably the player most likely to benefit from the spread offense being installed. If placed in the slot, not many linebackers will be able to handle him in space either.
Another talented running back is 2022 all-around talent Quincy Frazier. The 6-1, 205-pound prospect possesses size and speed. Like Jones, he’s a good athlete in space so he could be a very difficult cover for linebackers, but he’s also big enough to help grind out drives at the end of the game to erase the clock.
Out wide, little doubt that Anthony Summerlin is happy to see the spread offense. The 6-3, 170-pound 2022 prospect did not gain many chances to catch the football the past couple of seasons, but he’s capable of making plays if given the chance.
Lastly for the player profiles, if one is looking for a sleeper to emerge, look no further than Andre Phillips. The class of 2023 player is listed at 6-2, 195-pounds, and he’s still adding size. He could be a help at wide receiver, tight end or H-Back. Last season Phillips was primarily a blocker. Could he see a larger role next fall?
As for the Apopka team overall, there’s ample talent to make a title run. The spread offense will be a part of the program, and there’s numerous college prospects on the roster. This spring will be interesting to see how well the offense gels.