Friday night football is back after a bye week for the undefeated Fighting Indians, as they travel to Suncoast Stadium in Palm Beach to take on the winless Gators at 7:30 p.m. No, not those Gators – they are playing the Gators of Palm Beach Gardens High School.
Gardens losses have come from three of the best defensive teams in South Florida: Palm Beach Lakes, Dwyer, and Treasure Coast. Dwyer safety Matt Elam and Treasure Coast middle linebacker Jeff Luc are both the No. 1 players in the country at their respective positions according to high school recruiting service Scout.com. In only three games this year for the Gators, QB Tyler Bergman has thrown for 381 yards and a TD on 21 of 39 passing attempts. They don’t have a player with over 100 yards rushing, and this is due to Gardens playing from behind most of the year.
VBHS Coach Gary Coggin is careful not to judge the Gators by their 0-3 record.
“They’ve played three top-notch teams, so they’ve been tested,” said Coggin. “It seems like they are just one play or step away from blowing games wide open.”
VBHS, 4-0, has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and in the process, has developed some of its younger players into potential contributors.
“You always are looking for a way where you can rotate three players that play two positions,” said Coggin. “We aren’t one of those teams that play all of its best players on both sides of the ball. We have certain guys like Quincy Dudley and Trevonte’ Boles who come in during key situations on defense, but we really like to develop depth on both sides of the ball.”
Coggin was happy to have the bye week to give his team time to nurse some injuries. However, he’s eager to see if his team comes out on Friday with the intensity he demands.
“You want an open date because you want to get healthy, but sometimes you lose your stinger a little bit,” said Coggin. “We have to get back up to game speed because they are a very big, aggressive, and athletic team. We’re going to have to match their intensity.”
The Fighting Indians are the fourth straight elite defense the Gators have seen this year. Gardens lacks the have enough offense to test VBHS, and VBHS should prevail on the road.