Jupiter Christian knows road to state championship goes through Glades Day and Kelvin Taylor
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
by Matt Porter
Jupiter Christian coach Bill Powers has had just about enough of Kelvin Taylor.
"We were sick of hearing about him two years ago," said Powers, speaking in a light tone, but clearly not kidding.
With good reason. The Eagles have had two prime chances at a state championship, but Taylor - the state's all-time leading rusher - has ended those dreams.
Jupiter Christian and Glades Day have split the six games they've played against each other since 2008, when Taylor was a 14-year-old eighth-grader. But in two Class 1B regional final games (2009, '10), Taylor has dominated, rushing for a total of 708 yards with 10 touchdowns. Glades Day went on to win state titles in both those years.
Now, Taylor again stands in the way as the teams meet Friday in Belle Glade for the Class 2A regional final.
"It still comes down to Kelvin Taylor vs. Jupiter Christian. That's the bottom line," Powers said.
In last year's regional final, Taylor ripped up Roger Dean Stadium's outfield for a state-record 437 yards and five touchdowns. In 2009's game, he dominated for 48 minutes before scoring the winning touchdown and two-point conversion in overtime. After that game, Glades Day coach Pete Walker called Taylor, then a freshman, the best tailback in the state.
He's proven that all over again this season, breaking Emmitt Smith's state record for rushing yards in a career (now 9,185 and counting) and adding to his state-record touchdown total (144). He's the reason why the Gators (8-3), who have won the second-most state titles in Florida football, are the odds-on favorite to win their eighth.
"The last couple of times we've played him, he's brought it on every play," Powers said. "He's a different running back now than he was back then, there's no doubt about that. He wasn't nearly as physical and committed to getting it done."
Handed the starting role in 2008 as an eighth-grader, Taylor rushed for more than 1,584 yards and 28 touchdowns, including a 66-yarder in a season-ending loss to Jupiter Christian, which won the second of their two state titles. Taylor's Gators lost in the regional finals, finishing 5-6.
Jupiter Christian's 2009 regular-season win over Glades Day kept alive a 32-game winning streak, but the Eagles weren't prepared for what Taylor had in store for the postseason. In the regional final, he took down the Eagles almost single-handedly with 271 yards and five touchdowns and the winning sequence. He finished a four-game playoff run with almost as many rushing yards (1,163) as he did in ten regular-season games (1,429).
"That was really the first time he was a force," Powers said.
Last season, Taylor was still recovering from a partially torn meniscus in his right knee when the Eagles held him to 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 38-14 win. By playoff time, he was healthy enough to give the 2,000-plus fans in Jupiter a night to remember.
Powers admits his defense this year isn't good enough to stop Taylor. They only hope to slow him down and outscore him. With Central Florida commit Kedric Bostic directing his multiple-set offense, Powers feels comfortable they can do it.
With his fleet feet, strong arm and quick release, Bostic has 2,500 yards of total offense and 34 touchdowns. By comparison, Taylor has 2,539 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. The Eagles (9-2) have both outscored (431 to 359) and outgained (4,255 to 3,825) the Gators on the season.
Tuesday, Powers said the same thing he did in September: man-for-man, he has the better team.
"That doesn't mean we're going to win every football game, but I think if we played them 10 times, we'd win more than we'd lose," Powers said.
There's no one on his roster he'd trade. Unless, he conceded, Glades Day would send over No. 21 in exchange for a few of his guys. He may be sick of hearing about Taylor, but he'd consider rethinking that deal .
GLADES DAY vs. JUPITER CHRISTIAN HISTORY
Since their first meeting in 2008, Glades Day and Jupiter Christian have met six times, with each winning three games. Glades Day has won both playoff meetings.
Sept. 24, 2011
Glades Day 34, Jupiter Christian 28 (OT)
At Dwyer High, Palm Beach Gardens. Eagles' missed field goal at end of regulation leads to John Barr TD pass in OT.
Nov. 26, 2010
Class 1B regional finals
Glades Day 35, Jupiter Christian 29
At Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter. Taylor: state-record 437 yards, 5 TD.
Sept. 3, 2010
Jupiter Christian 38, Glades Day 14
At Belle Glade. Trey Pendergrass, Kedric Bostic too much for Gators' D.
Nov. 27, 2009
Class 1B regional finals
Glades Day 45, Jupiter Christian 44 (OT)
At Port St. Lucie High, Stuart. Taylor: 271 yards, 5 TDs, scores winning TD and two-point conversion in OT.
Sept. 26, 2009
Jupiter Christian 28, Glades Day 21
At Benjamin. Taylor: 166 yards, all three Glades Day TDs in meeting of No. 1 and 2 teams in Class 1B.
Nov. 14, 2008
Jupiter Christian 28, Glades Day 13
At Belle Glade. Eagles, in midst of 32-game win streak, complete first undefeated regular season in school history.