There is a buzz around the Somerset Silver Palms football program that they could be in store for the school’s first playoff appearance.
Having senior quarterback Isaac Bernard back helps lead the charge.
“I feel Isaac is one of the top quarterbacks in the area and when you have the top player at that position in most of the games you play--with that being a very crucial position when it comes to leadership and managing the game--it’s a great advantage,” head coach Javi Valdes said. “I’m not saying he’s Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, but top quarterbacks dominate games and if he comes out and plays the way he can play, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
Bernard, who stands 6-foot-4, is coming off his first year as a starter, throwing for 1,011 yards on 53-percent passing and eight touchdowns with 12 interceptions, and rushing for 212 yards and three more scores as the Stallions finished 2-8.
“Last season was a good experience, but I want to have a way better season this year because I wasn’t satisfied at all with our record,” Bernard said. “I thought we could have done way better. I just want to come out this year and change our team and be a better leader.”
Bernard cut down on his interceptions in the second half of the season after racking up eight in the first five games.
“At the midway point the game kind of slowed down and he started making the reads,” Valdes said. “Realistically since the midway point of last season he really doesn’t even turn the ball over. He makes great decisions with the ball. He knows where to go with the ball. He almost knows ahead of time to go with the ball. He’s really taking command of the offense to the point where he knows where we’re going and what we want to do. He’s really come a long way since he was a freshman.”
The Stallions are not used to having success as they have not reached the playoffs in their six-year program history. Last year’s 2-8 mark came a year after a 1-8 campaign. However, Bernard believes they can take the next step this year.
“A realistic goal is I want to go far in the playoffs, maybe even states—that’s the main goal,” Bernard said. “But we just want to get better as a team and start this program off.”
Bernard has a number of offensive weapons at his disposal led by senior wide receiver Alex Carreras, a transfer from Ferguson. Senior running back Jacob Armenta, sophomore running back Jayke Cooper, senior tight end Anthony McClain, sophomore wide receiver Reggie Everette, senior wide receiver Rolando Kramer, senior wide receiver David Thompson, and eighth-grade running back Edward Bandy also contributed in the Stallions’ 21-7 win over Braddock in the kickoff classic preseason game.
“Our expectations are a lot higher this year,” Bernard said. “We want to come out and take over.”
Bernard has been putting in extra time with the receivers after practices and on the weekends to help sharpen their connection as well as having better communication with the offensive line.
“He does a great job of taking command of the offense and sometimes he pushes people away and says, ‘relax, I got this,’” Bernard said. “He’s definitely improved as he’s gotten older.”
Somerset Silver Palms is in Class 3A, Region 4 with nine other schools, including local schools Palmer Trinity, Westminster Christian, Palm Glades, and Everglades Prep. The top six in each region advance to the playoffs.
“That would mean a lot, I would feel good,” Bernard said. “I want people to see me and look up to me. I want to be the first to start off at Somerset and make the program better, the first to go to the playoffs, that would mean a lot.”
The Stallions’ season begins Friday at 4:00 p.m. against Kings Academy, to be played at Princeton Christian School.