FlaVarsity.com has compiled a team of regional experts across the state of Florida. We will introduce each expert during the summer, and we continue with the Orlando area.
Charles King covers central Florida high school football for the Orlando Sentinel, and has great insight on football in the 407.
To get ready for high school football this fall, we asked King several questions about what to watch for in his area.
Who is the top team in your area and why?
CK: Having played in two consecutive 8A state title games, Apopka must be considered the top team in the area entering the season. However, the Blue Darters have some major concerns up front and in the secondary. Four of five starting offensive linemen and every defensive lineman was lost to graduation. Only one defensive back returns. Apopka will still have a talented and experienced offensive backfield with fullback Chandler Cox, an Auburn commit, and tailback J.J. Simmons. The duo combined for 2,272 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns last year. The Darters' stiffest competition in the area this year may come from its own district with West Orange, a program on the rise.
Who might not be getting enough attention in your area that you think will breakout this season and why?
CK: Boone, Edgewater and DeLand are all successful programs that have made championship game appearances in the state's largest classification in the last decade. All three had first year coaches in 2013 and turned in losing records but each could have a bounce back season in 2014. All three teams looked impressive in their spring games. Boone projects to have one of the area's best passing offenses. Edgewater won just one game last year but returns 19 starters. DeLand is still early in its rebuilding process but should be competitive in district play.
Who is the top 2015 prospect in your area? 2016?
CK: Greater Orlando's 2015 recruiting class may be the deepest ever in the area. As many as 50 players could sign with FBS programs in February. While there are numerous elite prospects in this class, Apopka offensive lineman Martez Ivey (6-6, 270) and Timber Creek running back Jacques Patrick (6-2, 225) are the two biggest names. Ivey is widely considered the nation's top lineman prospect. Patrick has 40 offers including one from every school in the SEC.
Naming the top 2016 prospect now is a little trickier. Bishop Moore offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux (6-5, 280) is currently the most recruited prospect with 30 FBS offers but a few others may have higher ceilings including West Orange quarterback Ervin Barrett (6-2, 175). He picked up offers from South Carolina, Tennessee and a couple of others this spring.
What will be a key storyline to watch this fall in your area?
CK: All eyes will be on West Orange this season. The Warriors ended a 14-year playoff drought last year under new coach Bob Head. In the offseason, three high-profile transfers joined a good group of returners. Barrett and Florida commit Jalen Julius, a receiver/cornerback, came over from Evans. Running back Dexter Williams, a Miami commit, transferred from Olympia. The Warriors will aim to beat Apopka, win the district and advance in the playoffs. The school has not accomplished any of those feats since the 90's.
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