Spring football is finally upon us, and there is much to be excited about. All of the area schools have high expectations in being competitive in the fall. We visited all of the area spring camps, including one down in Delray Beach, and without further ado, here is what we observed.
Palm Beach Central:
The Broncos missed the post season last fall, but not by much; after a rough start with arguably one of the most difficult schedules in the books, the Broncos made a run for the playoffs missing post-season play after a close loss to rival PB Gardens. The Broncos graduated many seniors, but will have many returning impact players. Pahokee transfer Akeem Dent will likely see plenty of action on both sides of the ball. The five-star highly recruited sophomore has made PB Central his third team to suit up for, and will be a force on the Bronco defense. Michael Moreland and Nick Atkins will battle it out for the quarterback spot. Atkins stepped in to replace Moreland last fall when he sustained a season ending injury. Both return to the Bronco offense healthy and look promising to lead the PB Central offense. The Broncos have depth in the backfield, and Lakevious Simmons will be one of the leading roles in the Bronco ground game. Simmons will be sitting out for the spring season, and returns in the fall. The Broncos occupy a very large crew within the trenches, and have depth there as well. The Bronco offensive and defensive lines are big, strong and quick. Look for PB Central to continue a balanced attack on offense while maintaining a usually aggressive defense. PB Central will open up in the fall with local power Atlantic, then travel to Melbourne Central Catholic for what will be an early test. The Broncos will host Centennial High School for their spring game May 19th.
The Hawks also missed the playoffs by one game last fall, with a loss to the Broncos, but looked impressive during their spring training. Hit heavy by graduation, Seminole Ridge returns a solid group of key players that are certainly capable of taking on the leadership role. Rising senior Dylan Mohl will return and should see time on both sides of the ball for the Hawks. He will suit up as middle linebacker and also run the ball for The Ridge offense. Jeremiah Brown and Justin Allie return to carry the Hawks offensive receiving corps and the defensive secondary. Allie is the fastest recorded player on the Hawks squad. Allie and Brown will be used around the ball in a quicker paced offense, the Hawks introduced last fall. Coach Parson, in his second year as head coach, fine-tuned their no-huddle style, and want to control the pace of the game through their offense. The Hawks will lean on rising junior quarterback Kaimyn Castilla who led the JV squad last season. He is young and will gain experience but he is smart, quick and can throw the ball. Seminole Ridge occupies arguably the toughest district in Palm Beach County, with PB Central, Wellington, PB Gardens, and Jupiter, so look for the Hawks to challenge for post-season play in the fall. New on the Hawks schedule will be Palm Beach Lakes, Memphis University School, and Boynton Beach. The Ridge will host South Fork on May 19th for their spring game.
The Wolverines have established themselves as a formidable power under head coach Tom Abel, and in his sixth season has put Wellington football back on the map. The Wolverines have made the post-season three straight years, winning the district crown twice. Abel also led Wellington in their 2014 season, to a school best record of 11-2, a district title and a regional finals appearance. Do not expect much to change for Wellington, who will rely on rising senior Connor Rogers to take snaps for the Wolverines; at 6'4" he is mobile, quick and can launch passes on a rope. Royal Palm transfer Austin Wallace will also see time at the quarterback spot for Wellington. Wallace, just a bit shorter than Connors, can be a dual threat. Heavily recruited rising junior Mark Anthony Richards will see both sides of the ball. Richards will line up as slot and wide receiver, and get reps as running back on the Wolverine offense. Wellington has depth in all of the skilled players positions. Junior Jaden Durant will also carry the rock. The Wolverines throw the ball 80% of the time, and look for that trend to continue. Defensively is where Wellington will have to fill several voids due to graduation, but according to coach Abel, they have the depth to do that. The trenches in Wellington are the biggest we've seen in recent years, averaging 285lbs across the board. Look for the Wolverines to contend for another district title in the fall, but their non-district schedule will be a tall mountain to climb with the likes of Vero Beach, Dwyer, Atlantic and Park Vista on the line-up. They should be up for the task. The Wolverines host Weston Cypress Bay on May 19th for their spring game.
Royal Palm Beach:
The Royal Palm Beach Wildcats are off a difficult season last fall, but hope to rebuild with young leaders on the field. Several players from Royal Palm transferred to other area schools, but head coach Wilie Bueno is optimistic his squad has what it takes to improve daily and be competitive. The Wildcats were plagued with injuries last fall, but return some experience to lead the younger players. Jerry Griffin returns healthy for the Wildcats, and will most likely play on both sides of the ball. Ricardo Rozier and Jalen Jones will compete for the starting quarterback role; both are young, and will gain experience quickly. Along with Griffin, Cedric Bunche, Cedric Harris and Kenarvis Bowles will get reps at grinding out yardage on the ground for Royal Palm. Veteran stand-out kicker Roland Tyson returns to lead the Wildcats kicking game. Tyson has one of the most consistent legs in Palm Beach County. Frank McKenzie returns as the veteran defensive lineman. Bueno believes McKenzie is as good as any across the county. McKenzie missed half of the season last fall due to an injury, so he is eager to play a key role. Nico Durrant is another player the Wildcat's camp believes will make an impact on defense. Royal Palm is in arguably the toughest class 7A district in the state, with Dwyer, Palm Beach Lakes and Olympic Heights looming on the schedule. The Wildcats will test their young squad in their spring game against Park Vista on May 18th on the road.
The Eagles are coming off another successful season despite surrendering the district title to rival Park Vista. Atlantic rebounded in the post-season, grinding out back-to-back wins in their regional playoff games, until dropping the regional finals game in a tight contest against Broward's Deerfield Beach. Although Atlantic was senior heavy, it seems to have done little damage to the depth the Eagles have. They return veteran receivers Corey Gammage and Cadarius Gaskin, both highly recruited and proved to be deadly against opposing defenses last season. The Eagles have four competing at the quarterback spot, transfer Antoine Williams from Seminole Ridge and a host of others. Jason Mercier is now an Eagle after transferring from Boynton Beach, and he should be a nice complement to the big and fast defensive line. The Eagles have size and speed up front, and that could be the difference for them as they make the transition to the fall; It is no secret that games are won and lost in the trenches. With the depth Atlantic spreads across each position, look for them to contend again in the class 8A post-season once again moving up a year ago from 7A. The Eagles host Miami Northwestern May 17th for their spring game.