BY GENE NARDI
The Seminole Ridge High School flag football team faced Jupiter High School in the District 12, Class 2A title game at Palm Beach Lakes High School on Wednesday, April 27 and shut out the Warriors 34-0.
The Hawks made their point loud and clear. They not only blanked Jupiter (8-4) with an impressive defensive effort, but the Hawks enter the regional tournament with an unblemished record of 13-0.
Seminole Ridge quarterback Madeline Harding led the offensive attack with four touchdown passes. Defensively, Seminole Ridge relied on an aggressive strategy that forced three interceptions, with one pick-six and two sacks.
“It feels amazing, but at the end of the day, we work hard at practice every day,” Harding said. “We’re ready every time we step on the field, and I have faith in all my receivers.”
Seminole Ridge scored on its first possession of the game, but it was not without converting on a fourth-and-8, due to a motivated Jupiter defense. Harding threw a 30-yard pass to Ashley Hollandsworth to set up a first-and-goal situation.
On the following play, Harding connected with Yazmin Salguero for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The point after attempt was no good, and the Hawks led early 6-0.
Jupiter moved the ball early, but the Hawk defense settled into a rhythm, flexing at times but never faltering. Christine Schergen was an integral part of the Hawks’ success on defense with a quick, consistent rush on the Warriors’ quarterback, logging two sacks.
“It’s all about the pressure and getting in their head and getting her to make mistakes,” Schergen said. “If I can’t get her, my linebackers help me out.”
Midway through the first quarter, Harding threw to Hollandsworth for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Hawks up 13-0.
The game continued to go south for the Warriors at the start of the second quarter, when Salguero picked off the Jupiter quarterback, giving the Hawks the ball at midfield.
“This is my first year playing safety,” she said. “Honestly, it’s just about reading the quarterback.”
Harding later found Salguero on a 10-yard touchdown reception to extend the Hawks’ lead to 20-0.
Jupiter finally sustained a drive, and found themselves with a first-and-goal, until Hollandsworth stepped in front of the Jupiter receiver to intercept the pass and return it 60 yards for another score. The pick-six extended the Hawk lead to 27-0 at the end of the first half.
“I read who was running the route, and I picked it off as she was looking at the ball,” Hollandsworth said. “I thought I could cut back in, cut back out and score, and I did.”
The Hawks’ opening drive of the second half put the game totally out of reach for the Warriors when Harding connected with receiver Amy Chung on a 5-yard touchdown pass, giving Seminole Ridge a 34-0 lead. Jupiter attempted to throw deep to get on the scoreboard, but Salguero picked off the pass in the Hawks’ end zone for a touchback.
The Hawks relied on their defense for the remainder and cruised to the final whistle with the 34-0 win and the district title.
“It was all about getting the girls to buy in and improve in all areas every game,” first-year head coach Scott O’Hara said.
He credited much of the team’s success to his coaching staff, Samantha Harris, Kristy Rhemer and Dave Dodge.
Seminole Ridge is set to play Park Vista High School in the regional playoffs on Friday, May 6.
ABOVE: The Seminole Ridge High School flag football team.