High School football can be fickle. A team can find a spark with just a few players improving and make a run in the state playoffs. Wiregrass Ranch will look to make that happen next fall.
By Brian Smith @fbscout_florida
With quarterback Rocco Becht and wide receiver Bryson Rodgers leading the way, the Bulls could get over the hump in 2021. After a 4-5 season this past fall, steady improvement from the team, as well as making that final leap for the two offensive skill players could be the difference.
Take a look at Bloomingdale this past season. They went undefeated before losing to eventual state champion Saint Thomas Aquinas. They found a way to win close games. That’s the bottom line.
Bloomingdale could have finished with two or three regular-season losses. The reason that did not happen is in large part to individual improvement and playing as a team. It started with their best players leading by example, and that’s what Becht and Rodgers will need to do for Wiregrass Ranch this next fall.
Looking at Becht, he’s a unique signal caller. A mobile 6-1, 185-pound athlete that will gamble a bit when provided with an opportunity to do so, Becht is best described as a football player. He’s the kind of player that wants to make a play instead of simply taking a back seat to the action.
Becht is not afraid of hitting his check downs to keep the chains moving, but he’s even better when throwing down the seam or over the top. That’s when he’s capable of making big plays. Having a big-time playmaker like Rodgers along the outside certainly helps.
While Becht threw for 1,550 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, Rodgers also hauled in 47 receptions for 710 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 6-2, 175-pound Rodgers is a gazelle in the open field. He makes defenders miss time and again, and he provides that open-field burst to take it to the house. That’s why he has big-time offers from schools like Penn State and Pittsburgh. The two offensive talents were a fantastic duo last year. So what’s next for the Bulls to get over that hump, by way of their teammates?
Against quality teams like Tampa Bay Tech, Mitchell and Armwood, Wiregrass Ranch found ways to allow big plays. Whether it’s an offside penalty, fumble, or missing a run fit, the defense allowed 48, 42, and 34 points to Tech, Mitchell and Armwood. That’s not good enough. Corrections will need to be made, and of course players need to step up their performance. But that’s still not enough.
Offense Needs to Find a Way
This era is about scoring points. Oftentimes a defense is left out to dry because the offense sputters. In those same three losses mentioned above, Wiregrass Ranch only generated 14, 6, and 7. Considering the skilled talent of just Becht and Rodgers alone, those are lackluster totals. The offense can do better and will have to.
Who Else Will Make a Jump?
Another skill player really needs to take a step forward. It does not need to be a total stud that lands an offer from Florida in the middle of the 2021 season, but Becht needs an additional playmaker that can create havoc in space. If two players emerge like that, then all the better. 2022 RB Corneil McCrary might be the one.
As for upfront, Wiregrass Ranch did not play well against more athletic defenses like Armwood. That’s not unusual around Tampa, but if you score seven to 14 points versus quality competition, that’s going to lead to losses more often than not.
Even if it’s just one offensive lineman that Wiregrass Ranch can truly rely on during big games, that could be the difference between another mediocre season, or having the type of success that other programs produce with a balanced rushing and passing attack. 2022 6-4/325 OT Cristian Loaiza might be the one.
It’s hard to project a high school football team from one season to the next, even with future college players like Becht and Rodgers leading the way. Those two stars are the first step in getting Wiregrass Ranch over the hump and making noise in the 2021 state playoffs.