Akeem Dent’s offseason move to Palm Beach Central paid big dividends in 2017.
The five-star defensive back, who starred at Pahokee the previous year, helped carry the Broncos to a district championship and a berth in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
Palm Beach Central finished 8-3 this year, more than doubling its win total from last season. The Broncos finished 3-7 in 2016 and missed the playoffs.
Dent, typically a cornerback, played safety this season for Palm Beach Central and responded with a huge year.
The junior finished with 81 tackles, five interceptions, two sacks and four forced fumbles. After the season he was named a finalist for the Lou Groza Awards High School Player of the Year.
Dent came up big late in the season for Palm Beach Central, which shut out its final three regular-season opponents and then opened the postseason with a shutout of Seminole Ridge.
“It’s satisfying,” Dent said of his performance. “This is my first and only year playing safety, and actually being top-notch at that position makes me feel good.”
Dent hopes to make an even bigger impact next season for the Broncos, who are set to return a strong senior class.
In addition to Dent, defensive linemen Renato Brown, Trey Isaac and John Simon will return, as will defensive back Jesus Santiago.
“I look forward to a even bigger season at cornerback, because I’m sauce magic,” Dent said. “I get better every year.”
As for his college plans, Dent said he remains committed to FSU despite the departure of head coach Jimbo Fisher on Dec. 1. Willie Taggart, a former head coach at Western Kentucky, USF and Oregon, took over for Fisher four days later.
Dent committed to the Seminoles in July, and he plans to begin his college football career in Tallahassee.
Asked last month where he stood on his commitment to FSU, he replied, “Strong.”
Dent is rated the No. 1 cornerback in the 2019 class by 247Sports, and the No. 6 overall player in the class.
Cornelius Mann, Palm Beach Lakes, Jr., DL: He was among the area’s leaders in sacks with 15, and added 23 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
Jason Mercier, Atlantic, Sr., DL: The big defensive tackle recorded 62 tackles, including 22 for loss. He also had 11 sacks and forced six fumbles.
Jarrett Jackson, Palm Beach Gardens, Sr., DL: The 6-foot-5 defensive end closed out his high school career with a team-leading 14 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. Signed with Louisville.
Alex Jean Mary, Atlantic, Sr., DL: He dominated from his defensive-end position, recording 40 tackles and 13 sacks. Also had four interceptions.
Jonathan Fioramonti, Seminole Ridge, Sr., LB: Posted big numbers for the Hawks, finishing with 90 tackles and 10 sacks.
Didero St. Germain, Palm Beach Central, Sr., LB: One of the area’s leading tacklers, he finished with 109, including 15 for loss. Also had three sacks.
Darius Mosely, Atlantic, Sr., LB: He played a key role on the Eagles’ stingy defense, recording 75 tackles, seven sacks and six forced fumbles.
Gurvan Hall, Palm Beach Gardens, Sr., DB: The UM signee anchored the Gators secondary this season, finishing with 80 tackles, six interceptions and five forced fumbles.
Tre Jackson, Palm Beach Central, Sr., DB: He finished with 41 tackles out of the secondary and added three fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
Marc Allan Derac, Atlantic, Jr., DB: His nine interceptions were among the area’s best. He also finished with 58 tackles, seven forced fumbles and 15 pass deflections.
Darius McClendon, Forest Hill, Jr., DB: Also the Falcons’ starting quarterback, he had a huge year in the secondary, finishing with 65 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
DL: Sebastian Bruno, Olympic Heights, Sr.
DL: Henry Bryant, Atlantic, So.
DL: Vernon Padgett, Dwyer, Jr.
DL: Chris Dascher, Olympic Heights, Sr.
LB: Corey Hamilton, Dwyer, Jr.
LB: Marcus Cushnie, Palm Beach Central, Sr.
LB: Ryan Petrovich, Wellington, Sr.
DB: Jakari Starling, Palm Beach Lakes, Sr.
DB: Jesus Santiago, Palm Beach Central, Jr.
DB: Spencer Racine, Olympic Heights, Sr.
DB: Wesley Scott, Jupiter, Sr.
DL: Zach Cohen, Seminole Ridge; Trey Isaac, Palm Beach Central; Dalton Hustad, Dwyer; Chandler Loiseau, Wellington; Cadarius Gaskin, Atlantic; Dervens Michaud, West Boca Raton; Ishmael Goulbourne, Dwyer; Tyler Booker, Seminole Ridge; Lendl Lubin, Boca Raton; Renato Brown, Palm Beach Central; Jordon Earle, Forest Hill; Sam Burton, Spanish River; LB: Jeremiah Anderson, Palm Beach Central; Jalen Holman, Palm Beach Lakes; Abraham Beauplan, Boynton Beach; Devon McMinns, Seminole Ridge; Troy Jaffy, Olympic Heights; Jadien Durant, Wellington; Oldy Sylvestre, West Boca Raton; Tracyn Young, Forest Hill; Keion Davis, Boca Raton; Jermon Sherrod, Palm Beach Lakes; DB: Vincent Redmond, Palm Beach Lakes; Kenih Lovely, Atlantic; Tykorian Brown, Seminole Ridge; Rod Evans, Boca Raton; Justin Birchette, Dwyer; Dylan Barofsky, West Boca Raton; Nate Barnard, Jupiter; Cornelius Butler, Wellington; Christian Brown, Atlantic.