As the 2021 season was winding down, Poinciana football was at a low point. Head Coach Randy Beeken made a difficult decision to suspend several high profile players from the team. In the end, the Eagles rallied to win two of their last three games. Poinciana beat Avon Park 28-16 in their Kickoff Classic, but lost their opening game 39-15 loss to Parrish Community. What looks to be a big change over last year, is the positive outlook for the season.
“It got pretty bad last year and we made a difficult decision that we hoped would pull the rest of the players together.It seemed to work and that has carried through spring and the early days of fall camp,” Beeken said.“We hopefully have everybody on the same page now.”
Beeken is hopeful that the new culture, combined with the addition on several talented transfers, could lead to the first winning season in the school’s 33-year history. “We had good numbers in the spring and summer,” Beeken said. “We also had a bevy of transfers come in, but technically I don’t consider a lot of them transfers many of them were originally zoned to attend this school to begin with.”
Two big names that should help Poinciana are a pair of Osceola High transfers in WR Donald Cummings and RB/DB Perry Garrett. Garrett averaged more than seven yards a carry and nearly 20 yards a reception for the Kowboys, although he saw limited action. Cummings is a home run threat of a wide receiver, as he scored four touchdowns and averaged 26.4 yard per reception for Osceola – despite only catching 15 total passes as back-up.
Garrett has already been penciled in as the starting running back.
Dav’Rell Cohn, a defensive back who saw very limited action for the Kowboys, also transferred from Osceola and could contend for a starting spot with the Eagles.
A key returning player will be quarterback Jahmari Corbett, who threw for 700 yards and six touchdowns as a part-time starter last year, has improved greatly from last fall. “He’s a year older and more experienced,” Beeken said. “His ability to read defenses and his decision making process has improved greatly.”
Ernest Nunn, just a sophomore, could be ready for a breakout year. In the Poinciana’s spring game, Nunn caught 150 yards in passes and could combine with Cummings to give Corbett two big-time targets.
Although the increase in roster numbers has given Beeken hope that the Eagles may go to more platoon football, Poinciana will be thin on both the offensive and defensive lines. Taurence Boland, Mike Rivera, and Jayden Swaby are three of the top returning linemen and all three will most likely start on both offense and defense.
Poinciana has some talent at both linebacker and defensive back, particularly with the addition of Garrett and Cohn. At linebacker, leading tackler Noah Otero (75 tackles, 7.0 TFL) returns as does starter Luis Sorto. Jaylon Morris led the Eagles defensive backfield in stops (25) last year and will lead an improved unit that includes Michael Centeno.
Prospects for a winning season also improved with the decision to remain an independent for a second consecutive year. Although it will not allow them to participate in the playoffs, it allowed Beeken and Athletics Director Tiffany King to put together a balanced schedule.
“Based on where our program sits right now and based on our history, this is a competitive, balanced and fair schedule,” Beeken said . “Almost every team we face is similar to our team in terms of talent and numbers. We should have a chance to win every game we play but the opposite is also true. The decision was fairly simple, play a fair schedule or be placed in a district with three or four teams powers where we had no chance of being competitive against. “
In all, the Eagles with play two teams that posted .500+ winning records last year in Teneroc (5-4) and Liberty (5-5). Key games will include Davenport (4-5) and Lake Buena Vista (0-10) a pair of relatively new schools that are playing in just their second season of competition. The most important game will come on Nov. 4 when the Eagles play Liberty in the “Battle of the Boulevards.” Similar to when Harmony opened and took quite a few students from St. Cloud, Liberty drained a good portion of the Poinciana student body when it opened in 2007. Unlike St. Cloud and Harmony, however, the Liberty-Poinciana rivalry has been one-sided with the Chargers winning all 15 previous contests.
- 8/26 at Parrish Community 7 p.m. Loss 39-15
- 9/2 at Discovery 7:30 p.m.
- 9/9 LaBelle 7 p.m.
- 9/16 Horizon 7 p.m.
- 9/23 Tenneroc 7 p.m.
- 10/7 Davenport 7 p.m.
- 10/14 at North Port 7:30 p.m.
- 10/21 at Lake Buena Vista 7:30 p.m.
- 10/28 Ambassador Christian 7 p.m.
- 11/4 at Liberty 7 p.m.
*Kickoff Classic Exhibition