It’s been said that the South’s two favorite sports are football and spring football.
The waiting between the end of football season and the start of spring football is tempered by basketball/soccer season and baseball/softball season. There are no regular-season high school sports to fill the void between spring football and the fall.
Teams have summer workouts, but those workouts, while well attended, are voluntary. In most cases, a player can miss a few workouts and still be in his coach’s good graces.
Those workouts are fine, but they don't give a curious sports writer much to go on. Yes, I can tell if a kid looks good in shorts, running routes without being hit, but you don't know who can play until they put on pads and start hitting.
Undoubtedly, Crestview High School defensive end Denzel Ware should be this year’s best player in Northwest Florida. 247 sports ranks him as the state’s No. 11 prospect and the nation’s No. 6 weak side defensive end and 109th best prospect. ESPN lists Ware as the country’s No. 83 prospect.
Pensacola Catholic linebacker Delvin Purifoy — who checks in as the nation’s No. 132 prospect and the state’s No. 16 prospect — is the only other player in Northwest Florida ranked among the country’s top 200 players.
Too often, we get caught up in player rankings and forget that most high school football games are won or lost by kids who will never play college ball.
Crestview’s defense will still need 10 other guys to step up and make plays even if Ware lives up to his lofty potential. It’s safe to say that No. 18 (Ware) will receive the most attention from opposing offenses. When he is double or triple teamed, other Bulldog defenders will have to step up and make plays.
For all its individual glory, football, in my opinion, remains the ultimate team sport. Ware drawing the opposition’s attention will free other players to make plays that could lead to a successful 2013 campaign.
And no matter how good the Bulldog defense might be, the offense will still need to execute and score for the team to do well.
The 2013 football season is now less than a month away.
And I'm ready for some football.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.