Panthers finish spring strong over Vero
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PALM BEACH GARDENS - Jack Daniels wants to win it all again at Dwyer.
He hasn't been able to lead his team to a state championship since 2009, when the Panthers won the Class 4A state title - their first in school history.
After yet another disappointing finish last season, which ended with a shocking 6-3 loss to Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes) at home in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, Daniels said he wants to simply move on from that experience.
"In my opinion, we had a terrible season," Daniels said of Dwyer, which started with a 6-0 record before ending 2012 with a 3-5 record, including losses to Atlantic (Delray Beach) and American Heritage (Delray Beach) in the regular season.
"I'll put the blame on myself for what happened. We weren't a team and we didn't play for each other. It takes a team effort to win games, so we just need to get back to that this season."
Dwyer's spring game at Vero Beach - a 41-7 road win on May 23 - proved to be a good indicator of the powerhouse program's return to a team identity.
"We have a group of guys who love each other now," Daniels said. "They work together and they want to see each other succeed on the field. We want to win with the players we have on our team."
Dwyer most likely won't have the quarterback issues it had in the past, particularly when Daniels had no choice but to rotate three different quarterbacks at various points last year.
Panthers 2015 QB Daniel Parr, who went 18-32 passing with 425 yards and five touchdowns in his team's spring game win, has emerged as the unquestioned starter heading into the 2013 regular season.
"It's the first time Daniel has had this team under his command," Daniels said. "It's his team now."
With the quarterback issue now solved, Daniels knows he has at least three dynamic wide receivers to count on. Dwyer 2014 WR Johnnie Dixon, who caught five passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game, will be counted on to be the team's top target.
Fellow 2014 playmakers Ezra Saffold (four catches, 81 yards, TD) and Clint Stephens[/db](six catches, 116 yards) complete Dwyer's triple threat of wideouts.
As far as Dwyer's running game is concerned, it will be led by 2014 RB Alonso Smith, who scored a rushing touchdown against Vero Beach in the spring game.
On defense, Dwyer returns 2014 S Shawn Boone, who will be expected to command of the secondary. The trio of Dixon, Saffold and Stephens, along with Jarius Adams (2015), look to assist Boone in that defensive unit.
Gerald Hearns (2014) and Jerrad Ward will lead the linebacker corps for Dwyer, while Daikwon Fuse (2014), Tim Jackson (2014) and Mark Kelly will anchor the lines.
Overall, it appears that Dwyer is set to have a strong team on both sides of the ball.
With a kickoff classicgame against Miami Central, followed by regular season games against Glades Central (Belle Glade), Palm Beach Gardens, Atlantic (Delray Beach) and Royal Palm Beach, the Panthers should be battle-tested as they look to compete for this year's Class 7A state championship.
Will Dwyer reach its ultimate goal? Only time will tell.