If Friday night’s contest was any indication, the third time could be the charm for Deerfield Beach football coach Allen Jackson.
Brandon Powell rushed for 144 yards, caught two passes for 40 yards and scored three touchdowns as host Deerfield Beach blanked Northeast, 37- 0 in the season opener for both teams.
Jackson went 3-6-1 in his first year with the program and failed to make the playoffs. The Bucks went 5-5 last year and fell to state runnerup Cypress Bay, 41-13, in the regional quarterfinal round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
“Last year helped a lot for the simple reason that we figured out what we had to do, and the kids bought into the weight room during the offseason, and we’re trying to get the team continuity back together,” Jackson said. “That told them they could play. They were able to do that and we were able to bring the core of the kids back, and I think that worked out well for us.”
Northeast (0-1) looked good on its opening drive as it took the opening kickoff and marched 44 yards to the Bucks’ 22, but lost the ball on downs when quarterback DeAngelo Fulford’s pass was incomplete. From then on, it was all Deerfield Beach.
Powell and Aeron McNeal each scored twice in the first half as the Bucks (1-0) scored on its first three possessions to grab a 21-0 lead.
“They are a great 1-2 punch,” said Jackson, whose team will face Blanche Ely this Saturday. “They got over 2,000 yards last year, and we are hoping they could duplicate that this year. We added a quarterback (Danarious Graham) this year and we have some receivers so we will be able to throw the ball a little bit more this year and it will take the pressure off them. The basis of our team is still running the ball.”
Powell, a University of Miami commit, bolted to a 67-yard TD run on the Bucks’ third play from scrimmage to give Deerfield Beach a 6-0 lead. McNeal capped a 5- play, 45-yard drive with a 1- yard plunge and Powell caught the 2-point conversion pass from Graham to make it 14-0.
Powell extended the lead to 21-0 with 10:09 remaining in the first half when he hauled in a 35-yard scoring toss from Graham. The Bucks picked up a safety and McNeal added a 12-yard scoring run to propel the Bucks to a 30-0 halftime cushion. Powell, who finished the game with 15 carries for 104 yards, added a 10-yard TD run in the third to push the lead to 37-0 and force a running clock. McNeal had 12 carries for 79 yards, while Graham threw for 110 yards and added another 40 yards on the ground.
The Bucks defense is led this season by defensive ends Tyler Sayles (FIU commit) and Jason Strowbridge, and a freshman linebacker in Emmit Bruton. Justin Morgan, Artez Levine, Vernon Thompson, James Pierre all have experience in the secondary.
“I am very excited about the season,” said Jackson, whose team graduated 15 players from last year’s team, including seven starters. “We set our goals high and the kids know this is it. We have to strive for it. I am realistic, and I know you need a lot of luck. You need a lot of things to go your way. If we stay away from injuries, stay healthy and the ball falls our way, I think wecan do pretty well.”