ALL-AREA FOOTBALL: Big Schools Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Elam, Dwyer
Thursday, January 07, 2010
by Jason Lieser
Photo by Ray Graham / The Palm Beach Post
As Dwyer senior Matt Elam watched the final minutes of his team's state championship victory at the Florida Citrus Bowl, everything else faded away.
In the weeks leading up to that win, he became the first player ever to win a second Lou Groza Player of the Year award and was named Gatorade's Player of the Year for Florida. He was coveted by every major college in the country.
But in the final moments of his high school career, the only thing that mattered was Dwyer football winning its first championship.
"That's the only thing I didn't have," he said. "A lot of people can't get that and it's what everybody wants."
Despite sitting out the second half in several blowout wins, Elam piled up 61 tackles, including 15 for negative yardage at linebacker. After first planning on attending Florida, he changed his mind last week and committed to Florida State and plans to participate in spring practices.
Panthers defensive coordinator Bobby Sifrit said Elam, 6-foot, 210 pounds, could have been the team's best player at any position on defense.
"He changes the game on the defensive side of the ball more than anybody I've ever seen," Sifrit said. "He's really a safety, but he played linebacker because it was more important for us to stop the run."
With Elam roving the field, Dwyer allowed just 95.3 offensive yards per game during the regular season and shut out seven opponents.
Elam made a strong case for Offensive Player of the Year as well. In 15 games, he rushed for 1,883 yards and 27 touchdowns on just 178 attempts.
In the championship game against Niceville, he ran for 187 yards and scored four times.
"Defense is where my heart's at, but I didn't know I was going to do that good at running back," Elam said. "I really didn't want to play it at all, but I did my thing."
BIG SCHOOLS FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
Curt Maggitt, Dwyer, DL
Junior Ht., Wt.: 6-4, 210. Could be the area's No. 1 college prospect next year after recording 11 sacks as a junior.
Kenneth Shaw, Dwyer, DL
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-4, 220. Led the state champion Panthers with 25 tackles for loss on the season.
Morris Moore, Palm Beach Lakes, DL
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-4, 245. Had 32 tackles for loss, 17 of which were sacks, and led a Rams defense that allowed just 15 ppg.
Evince Dossous, FP Westwood, DL
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 5-10, 285. Presented matchup problems for opponents with 125 tackles, including 19 for loss.
Gerald Christian, Dwyer, LB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 230. Led a dominant defense and starred as a tight end and fullback as well. Committed to Florida.
Jeff Luc, Treasure Coast, LB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 240. Tied Ed Foley for the team lead with 103 tackles, including 14 for loss. Committed to Florida State.
Ed Foley, Treasure Coast, LB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 5-11, 185. Led Titans with 103 tackles, including 25 for loss. Coach Bill Kelley said he was the team's best player.
Deon Rogers, Treasure Coast, LB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 205. Had 58 tackles for the Titans, 12 of which resulted in lost yardage. Committed to Georgia.
Robert Clark, Dwyer, DB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 5-9, 160. In three years, he allowed just one TD in one-on-one coverage. Committed to Florida.
Johnnie Simon, Palm Beach Lakes, DB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 190. Starred for the Rams with 87 tackles and two interceptions on the season.
Woodley Cadet, Seminole Ridge, DB
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 195. Had 45 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass break-ups. Committed to Central Florida.
Cody Parkey, Jupiter, Kicker/punter
Senior. Ht., Wt.: 6-0, 185. Made 9-of-12 field goals, including a 42-yarder. Committed to Auburn.
BIG SCHOOLS SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
Pos., Name, Ht., Wt., School, Year
DL — Dexter Richardson, 6-2, 200, Palm Beach Lakes, senior
DL — Jeremy Retzsch, 6-2, 190, Boca Raton, senior
DL — Jephte Leveille, 6-0, 230, Treasure Coast, junior
DL — Brian Blackwell, 6-0, 210, Olympic Heights, senior
LB — George DeMaria, 5-10, 200, West Boca Raton, senior
LB — Layton Haynes, 6-1, 210, Dwyer, senior
LB — Tyler Butler, 6-2, 190, Seminole Ridge, junior
DB — Justin Halley, 6-2, 180, senior
DB — Mike Ruiz, 5-10, 160, Dwyer, senior
DB — Jameson Wright, 6-2, 180, Fort Pierce Westwood, senior
DB — Wonderful Terry, 5-8, 140, Fort Pierce Westwood, junior
K/P — David Bicknell, 6-2, 180, Boca Raton, junior