Posted: 12:32 am Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Playoff Primer 2012: Dwyer looking for answers in postseason 

By Jeff Greer

On Friday, there are 16 playoff games involving teams from our area. In the buildup to the games, we’ll break down every matchup.

Dwyer needs to find consistent blocking upfront and good quarterback play to reach states again.

Dwyer coach Jack Daniels would be the first admit he doesn’t want to be searching for answers as his team starts its hunt for a repeat trip to states, but that’s exactly where the Panthers are as the postseason begins. They’ve tried three quarterbacks this fall, and seem to have found positives in each of them, most recently sophomore Daniel Parr. But the offensive line has struggled, making it difficult for Daniels’ three racers at receiver — Johnnie Dixon, Ezra Saffold and Clint Stephens — to get open and get wild. Figuring out how to get the playmakers the football and protect the quarterback will be Dwyer’s biggest challenge, and it’s something the Panthers wish they’d figured out a lot sooner.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.

Record: 8-2.
How they qualified: Runner-up, District 13-7A.
Average points per game: 32.7.
Average points allowed per game: 7.3.
Offensive yardage totals: 3,050 (1,407 rush/1,643 pass).
Offensive stars: WRs Johnnie Dixon, Ezra Saffold, Clint Stephens.
Defensive yardage totals: 1,238 (356 rush/882 pass).
Defensive stars: DEs Malik Brown, Ted Taylor, Mark Kelly; LB/DB Shawn Boone, LB Jarred Brown.
Best win: 39-0 over Seminole Ridge.

Record: 9-1.
How they qualified: Winner, District 14-7A.
Average points per game: 36.1.
Average points allowed per game: 11.9.
Offensive stars: WR Stacy Coley.
Best win: 19-14 over Boyd Anderson.

PBGametime favorite: Dwyer,
Pinkos’ prediction: Dwyer by 11.
Lazindex favorite: Dwyer.

The frame for any discussion about Dwyer is simple: Is this a program that has become so good that we’re grasping at straws looking for weaknesses? Atlantic’s win woke up Dwyer, and American Heritage’s win in the season finale inserted a slight doubt in Dwyer. But with a defense as good as the Panthers’ D, can we really expect them to drop that far in the playoffs? Or, and I think this is more the case, can we just acknowledge that Heritage is one of the best high school teams in the nation and Atlantic is a legitimate state-title contender, and that duo’s rise paired with a slight drop-off at quarterback on the offensive line at Dwyer made for some better competition this time around.

Dwyer has two very real problems in going down south to play Northeast: Its quarterback play and Stacy Coley. First, the offensive issues. The offensive line didn’t get much room for its running backs against Heritage. The Panthers had first-and-goal from the 4-yard line and didn’t score Thursday night. Dwyer, unsuccessfully, ran the ball four times, meaning it struggled blocking and creating gaps and there’s also a lack of trust in the passing game. That’s troublesome, though Heritage needs to be given credit for its stout goal-line stand. Can Dwyer create the holes and get points when it needs them? Can the quarterback, whoever it is, make the throws in the red zone?

The matchup against Coley is scary. The Northeast receiver is one of the best in the country, and Dwyer has given up enough big plays this fall to give some pause. That said, there should be a strong focus on over-the-top help. Dwyer’s defensive line and linebackers can more than hold their own against the run, meaning Northeast has to win the battle in the air to win this game. That won’t be easy. Then again, it’s 7A football. Nothing’s easy.