Spring football: Dwyer answers many questions in 43-26 victory over Fort Pierce Central
Thursday, May 24, 2012
by Jeff Greer
With an already-loaded defense, Dwyer needs to find consistent quarterback play and a solid offensive line to help get the ball in the hands of its talented receiving corps.
However, if Thursday night's 43-26 win against Fort Pierce Central is any indication, the Panthers will be just fine this fall. They looked smooth and in control in front of more than 20 college coaches from schools including Miami, USF and Wake Forest .
Clay Meister started at quarterback, and led both of Dwyer's two-minute-drill series. He completed his first three passes, and though he had a few quality balls dropped, Meister finished 11-for-21 for 125 yards. He also ran for a touchdown.
Rob Nittolo also played significant minutes at quarterback, starting the second half. He completed six of his seven first-half passes, including three for touchdowns, and established a clear connection with Clint Stephens, one of Dwyer's fast and strong receivers. Nittolo was 7-of-9 for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
Both looked confident calling plays, reading the line of scrimmage and throwing the ball.
"We knew we had two good guys in our system," Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said. "We still have a long way to go but we made a lot of progress tonight."
Stephens (119 receiving yards, TD) and Johnnie Dixon (66 yards, TD) entered last season as Dwyer's young receivers . They reached the point now where they're virtually impossible for high school defensive backs to cover. But Dwyer also showed off another weapon : Ezra Saffold, who had 41 yards receiving and a touchdown. The junior was a constant threat with the ball in his hands, and weaved his way to the game's opening score on an impressive 28-yard catch and run.
Cortney Lowery also scored twice for Dwyer, once on a run and another on a kickoff.
Fort Pierce Central showed that it can play with Dwyer, a team the Cobras could see in the Class 7A playoffs this fall. But they'll need to find some answers on the offensive line and at quarterback to return to the regional finals.
Both DeMarcus Semer, who started, and Sam Vaughn struggled at quarterback, but mostly because they had no time. Dwyer's front seven, with BCS prospects such as Malik Brown and Shawn Boone, terrorized Central's offensive line, which lost three starters from last fall.
Vaughn got rare daylight in the third quarter, sprinting 70 yards for a touchdown, and his swing pass to J.J. Stevens went for a 25-yard score in the second quarter. Josh Knight made a nice catch on a slant and ran 21 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
But those plays went against the flow. Central gained just eight first downs overall.
Another BCS-level recruit, Central running back Marcus Levy, hardly got going, running seven times for 14 yards and sitting out most of the second half.