Friday night's Flanagan-Coconut Creek matchup was a star-studded affair with 14 prospects in the Miami Herald's lists for top 50 seniors and top 25 juniors in Broward County -- and several others not on those lists that stepped up in the big game.
After lightning delayed kickoff, the night began with some smack talk during team stretches between two of Broward's elite -- 2016 four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen for Coconut Creek and 2017 four-star cornerback Stanford Samuels of Flanagan. They weren't the only two. Several others from both sides were jawing back and forth. Coach Devin Bush, with a game face probably reserved for his FSU or NFL days, had to reiterate to his players to focus on getting warmed up as opposed to becoming preoccupied with talking to the opponent.
Some pregame smack talk between Stanford Samuels and Trayvon Mullen during team stretch. pic.twitter.com/AuTFNsT6Pt— David Furones (@DavidFurones90) September 4, 2015
Samuels and Mullen both excelled on the gridiron once the game began. Samuels rarely -- if at all -- played corner as he was consumed with the quarterbacking duties in place of the injured Champagnat transfer and Akron commit Kato Nelson. His numbers weren't flashy (4-of-16 passing for 37 yards and 31 rushing yards on 13 carries), but he also didn't turn the ball over, which was critical in a game mostly dominated by the defenses. Samuels also had the key rushing touchdown on the opening drive, which appeared to be all the scoring the Falcons would need for most of the game.
Jhakari Harrison, the Southern Illinois commit and quarterback in this game who is being recruited for his ability to throw the ball, was flustered with a Falcon in his face for most of the night but turned it on late to ignite a near comeback.
Flanagan's "Dirty Bird" defense had nine sacks and hurried Harrison several other times. Defensive back Nikholi Jahgai and linebacker Jordan Eubanks, two of the slimmer guys involved in an array of exotic blitzes Flanagan utilized, combined for six of those sacks. On one first-half scoring chance in the red zone, Harrison threw for Mullen in the end zone, but corner Rocco Marucci established great position and went up for it to bring it down for the interception.
The Falcons came out hyped and were hitting hard -- one Charles Williams stick in the early going comes to mind. But there were also instances where it worked to their detriment. Michigan commit Devin Gil could've had an interception that would've surely gone all the way back had he looked for the ball instead of the hit on the receiver on one errant pass that resulted from a miscommunication on a route.
Flanagan really looked like it was poised for a shutout until Harrison and the Cougars got it going late.
After Anthony Johnson ran for a touchdown with seven minutes remaining to put the Falcons up 21-0 following a Jahcour Pearson two-point conversion, the Creek offense, whether it be by desperation or Flanagan softening up its coverage, experienced a revival in the final five minutes.
Harrison hit Binjimen Victor, who was skying for some monster catches throughout, and then Mullen twice before finding Victor again at the pylon for the first score. Flanagan pinned Creek down to the 3-yard line, and Harrison found Mullen for a 97-yard touchdown on the next offensive play. The Cougars got the ball back once more, but Jahvari Bourdeau picked off Harrison with 0.9 seconds remaining to seal it.
Coconut Creek class of 2017 recruits Kobe Green and Lashawn Paulino. The defensive back Green was part of a secondary that didn't allow much through the air, was active up front in stopping the run and even came in on a blitz to get a sack. Paulino, who stands tall at defensive end at 6-4 and 230 pounds, effectively sealed the edge for the Cougars.
Flanagan kicker Angel Trujillo connected on two field goals and had another one blocked, which Mullen then landed on.