Taking a shot this year. The 2012 numbers don’t support the selection, but the offensive unit as a whole will provide a better explanation. Why is Lake Wales the number 1 offensive backfield entering the 2013 season? Let me tell you. In 2013, the Highlanders rushed for 2,532 yards. 5 different ball carriers rushed for over 100 yards on the season. 4 of which are returning this season. The passing numbers are not impressive. According to Maxpreps, the team threw for less than 1000 yards.
So what’s the difference in 2013? Highlanders return a more seasoned and improved quarterback. Railond Garrett has a season under his belt. Stronger arm, more accurate, more targets to pass to and also provides a legitimate running threat. Working behind a big, athletic offensive line, the protection should be consistent to allow the rising senior QB time to read the defense and make good decisions.
The running backs really provide some problems. Veteran Justin Henderson and Earnest Hamilton are as good as they get. Henderson led the team last season with 809 rushing yards while Hamilton added production with nearly 400 yards of his own. Both backs provide tough inside running, ability to get to the sideline on perimeter runs and homerun threats at any time, on any play. Eddie Joseph will provide depth and is just as talented as the two backs previously mentioned.
A big difference will be the continuity and cohesiveness of the offensive line. Much improved front will allow the backfield to produce big numbers in 2013.
2 TAMPA BAY TECH
This is the year RB Deon Thompson really makes TBT fans smile. His production has been limited in previous years due to injury that has sidelined him. He is the man this year and should thrive as he had a strong spring and summer. QB Deon Cain is something special. Improved accuracy with his passes and top notch athletic ability will have him putting up rushing numbers we have not seen from a TBT QB in some years. The “Deon combo” with Darrell Turner will be a really threatening offensive backfield.
3 LAKELAND CHRISTIAN
One of the best two 2015 prospects in our area, QB Christian Alexander and RB TJ Simmons are together again. Simmons missed the 2012 season with a knee injury, but is back and better than ever. The combo gives a real ground/air attack that will be tough to slow down. When Rafeal Pressley returns, the game could change. If Pressley would have been healthy (recovering from knee injury) at the start of the 2013 season, LCS could have pushed for the #1 spot.
4 FORT MEADE
Dual Threat QB (Jay Smith) and two running backs (Ryan Fulse and Isham Alexander) who could put up 800+ yards each this season, bring the Miners in at #4. If a play breaks down, Smith has the ability to make something out of nothing. Fulse and Alexander are lightning and thunder. A solid compliment to each other, hard to bring down and can bust for 70 yards at any time.
5 CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC
When the quarterback is part of the run game and he has the ability to effectively move the ball through the air, the offense becomes just that much tougher to stop. CCC has two capable signal callers in Blake Gomez and Jeff Smith. Return a 1K rusher, RB Diquan Walker and quality ball carriers, Demetri Royer and JT Steele, The CCC Marauders have a crew that can do some damage.