BY GENE NARDI
Wellington High School wrapped up its brief spring football season with a 28-21 loss to the Lake Worth High School Trojans on Friday, May 27. Despite the loss, the Wolverines have much to look forward to in the fall.
Spring games serve as a test to see what the team needs to work on for the fall. Wellington used it to its advantage, trying anything and everything, including attempting to convert on fourth down.
During spring games, the kicking game is typically not live play, meaning kickoffs and punts are not returned to stop players from sustaining serious injuries before the fall season. The Wolverines punted just twice during the game and tested their ability to convert on fourth down, in which they fared two of four.
Both teams struggled offensively through the first quarter, trying to cut through the penalties. Host Lake Worth went up first, when it intercepted a Ben Shmickle pass that was returned 10 yards for the score to lead 7-0.
Going into the second quarter, the Wolverines had not completed a pass or moved the chains. But they finally found a rhythm. Schmickle completed four passes in a row to move the offense into scoring position. Schmickle connected with Jymetre Hester for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Logan Robinson’s kick tied the game at 7-7.
Wellington’s defensive front continued pressuring the Trojan quarterback.
On Wellington’s next drive, Schmickle orchestrated a two-play drive, a screen to receiver Sage Chen-Young for a 30-yard gain, and then an apparent 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Wright that was called back on a penalty.
The score was not to be denied; Schmickle later found D.J. Dobkins on a 16-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Robinson’s kick gave Wellington a 14-7 lead, which held to the half.
The second half started shakily for the Wolverines with another pick-six on the first play from scrimmage. The 20-yard return tied the game at 14-14. Lake Worth had yet to score on offense, due to a stingy Wellington defense. At this point the Wolverine defense had recorded four sacks.
On the ensuing drive, Wright entered the game as quarterback and orchestrated an 80-yard drive, capped with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dobkins. The score put Wellington back in the lead 21-14. After Hester intercepted a Trojan pass in the end zone, Wright led another drive to the Lake Worth 28-yard line, but a fumble stalled the chances of extending Wellington’s lead.
Wellington’s fourth-and-5 attempt to convert from its own 30 put Lake Worth right back in the game. The Trojans were able to capitalize and score twice late in the game to steal a 28-21 win.
“Nobody in their right mind can win a football game when you throw two pick-sixes and you fumble deep in their territory,” Wellington coach Tom Abel said. “We’re still a good football team, and this is what spring football is all about.”
Wellington is slated to face Palm Beach Lakes High School for its kickoff classic in August.
ABOVE: Wellington receiver Jymetre Hester leaps up to make an acrobatic touchdown catch.