Not much has changed in the approach that Deerfield Beach football coach Allen Jackson is taking with his team this year.
“We want to be excellent,” said Jackson, who has compiled a 20-10 at Deerfield Beach in his four seasons at the school. “Our motto is new team, new faces and the same goal.”
Deerfield Beach had an outstanding season last year as the Bucks had their first undefeated regular season, won the District 11-8A crown and earned its first playoff victory since 2008. After defeating Flanagan in overtime, 14-7, the Bucks fell 43-6 to Miramar in the regional semifinal.
Jackson knows he has his work cut out for his football team this season as the squad graduated its starting backfield from last year including running backs Brandon Powell (University o f Florida) , Aeron McNeil ( University of Alabama- Birmingham), quarterback Denard Graham (Garden City), along with wide receiver Justin Morgan (Lafayette).
“We have Alex Pierre back from last year,” Jackson said. “He is going to have to carry the load. We have some other kids that we expect big things out of, including Markel Yarbrough, who transferred from Plantation.”
Deerfield Beach will also rely on senior defensive end/tight end Jason Strowbridge and two-way lineman Montel Jordan, and addition to Antonio Cartagena, Jeffrey Joseph and James Pierre. Junior Aeron Cartagena is also expected to contribute.
“Even though we lost 10 starters from our senior-laden team, we are going to focus on the same thing we did last year,” Jackson said. “I think we can; with the additions we have and with what we have coming back, I like what I see as a team. I like the attitude and the work ethic the kids have demonstrated. I am trying to get back to where we were at and get a little further on.”
“I see some big things and the goal is going to be the same,” Jackson added. “We are not going to change that.” This is Jackson’s second time around at the school as he served a variety of titles, including D-Line coach, offensive coordinator and linebacker coach from 1990-2003. Before returning to Deerfield Beach, Jackson coached at Monarch for four seasons and at Coconut Creek for three years. He’s been coaching football for 29 years.
“It is an intelligent team,” Jackson said. “Losing those guys was a big hurt, but we added to the program and I think it will be a little better. I think the program is heading in the right direction. In a sense, we are rebuilding. We added a lot of kids who are young. I guess it is a rebuilding process of old and new. I think we can get to the playoffs. Time will tell.”
Quarterback Jeffrey Joseph moves up from a JV team that went 7-1. Jackson said he is more of a pocket passer than Graham was.
Strowbridge, a 6-4, 250 lb. senior, said his game really took off after his freshman year. He is hopeful of another strong season this year. He said he studies NFL players and tries to model his game after them.
“I don’t know if you can do what they did, but I think we have a lot of young kids who are willing to learn and I think it will be fun this year,” Strowbridge said. “We definitely feel the pressure because last year’s team was the best team I have ever been on. I think there is definitely pressure to do that and do what they did.”
Jordan said the team would need to do what it did last year and be even more aggressive. He said there is a big difference between last year’s squad and this year’s version.
“Last year, we had more experience,” Jordan said.
“We have a younger team this year, but we are more disciplined. Last year, we had Brandon Powell. We had Aeron and a new quarterback (Graham), so we are going to have to work hard to get back to where we were last year.”