By Gary Curreri
The Deerfield Beach High School football team is whole again as head coach Jevon Glenn returned to practice this week after being hospitalized last week after missing his team’s 28-21 victory over visiting Atlantic in the Region 3-8A final on Friday night.
Jakari Norwood took a screen pass from Nick Holm and went 44 yards for the winning score with 2:20 remaining to send the Bucks (10-2) to the state semi-final game for the first time since 2006 when it lost a heartbreaker to the eventual state champion Miami Northwestern.
An emotional Norwood said after the game that he and his team rallied around Glenn, who had been hospitalized two days earlier and missed the game. Former Piper High coach Matthew Lewis, the team’s running back coach, filled in as head coach for the game. Deerfield Beach will host Miami Southridge (10-2) in the state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
“This was hard, but we did it for him (Glenn),” said Norwood, a 5-10, 175-pound junior running back who also scored on a 7-yard run earlier in the game to give the Bucks a 14-7 lead. “We prayed hard and we came through. This is very big. We are trying to do something we have never done. We want to beat Southridge and go to state.”
“My number was called and I just did what I do,” Norwood said. He had 57 yards rushing and another 51 yards receiving.
“I saw the end zone and I just took advantage of it.”
“I am feeling much better,” Glenn said on Wednesday morning. He was released from the hospital on Sunday and back at practice on Monday. “I am back in the saddle.”
“I’m good now,” said Glenn, who was diagnosed with ‘some digestive issues.’
“I am most definitely proud of the team, and the staff, and what they accomplished Friday,” he continued.
The last time Deerfield Beach played in a regional final before Friday night was in 2008 when they lost to Miramar. A victory Friday would send the Bucks to the state championship game for only the second time in school history. Deerfield reached the state final in 2005 losing to Palm Beach Gardens.
Deerfield Beach lost to the eventual state champion Flanagan in the regional semifinals last season, while Atlantic lost to Flanagan in the regional final.
The Bucks opened the scoring with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter when senior defensive end Deslin Alexandre blocked Brian Litang’s punt and Bucks senior Jerry Jeudy scooped up the loose ball and raced 31 yards for the 7-0 lead.
Atlantic tied the game at 7-7 on a 3-yard scoring run by Lamar Brewster with 7:46 remaining in the half. The score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.
Holm, who finished the game 18 of 26 for 262 yards, also threw a 42-yard pass to Daewood Davis to give the Bucks a 21-7 halftime lead before the Eagles started to mount a comeback.
The teams traded turnovers to start the third quarter and the Eagles cashed in with 7:42 left in the period on a 17-yard run up the middle by Marquis Waters. The extra point failed and the Bucks led 21-13.
Atlantic pulled to within 21-20 on a quarterback sneak by Thompson from a 1-yard out with 11:10 left to cap a 67-yard, 12 play drive. The big play in the drive was a 29 yard toss from Thompson to Corey Gammage to the Bucks’ 1. Thompson and Gammage teamed up for the 2-point conversion on a slant play to tie the game at 21-21 setting up Norwood’s late game heroics.
Lewis said the team only has a state championship in mind. Lewis was the head coach for Piper in 2008-09 and finished 6-4.
“This is just another step,” Lewis said. “Deerfield Beach has been to the playoffs and deep into the playoffs and amongst all of the school with the winningest records in the state of Florida and we are the only one that has not captured a state championship. Until we get that, we are not done. We are not finished.”
Lewis said Glenn was brought in for a stomach virus and was hospitalized for the game, but the team rallied around him Friday and got him the victory.
“Before the game, we made sure we laid it on the line for our leader,” Lewis said. “Coach Glenn has turned this program around and the kids fought hard for him tonight.”