BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School Wolverines have started preseason football practices in preparation for the fall season.
The Wolverines have made it to the postseason the past two years, and coach Tom Abel believes that his squad is loaded this year to contend for a district title.
Abel has achieved much success in turning around the Wellington program since he started his reign leading the Wolverines. In 2014, he earned coach of the year with a school’s best 11-2 record, a district title and a regional finals appearance.
Last season, Wellington fell short as district runner-up in a nail-biter to rival Palm Beach Gardens High School, and entered postseason play for the second-straight year.
The Wolverines had a positive spring season, despite a 28-21 loss to Lake Worth High School in the spring game.
“I liked a lot of things that we were doing, and it has carried over to the summer,” Abel said. “Aside from the loss, we had a lot of good things to take from it, and used it as motivation, which has made them hungry, and our expectations are extremely high this year.”
Quarterback Ben Schmickle will look to start under center for the offense, but Connor Rogers will compete for the spot as well. At 6-foot-3, the once-quarterback has taken on the role again.
In the backfield, Wellington is stacked at the running back position with Mark Anthony Richards, Jaden Durant, Anik McKenzie and transfer Marvin Pierre. Receiving will be D.J. Dobkins, Sage Chen-Young, William Perez and Jymetre Hester.
The offensive line returns several veterans. Santiago Posada will anchor the line at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds. Cameron Allen and Chris Namacher will also contribute on the offensive line.
Defensively, Wellington is big and fast, and showed its quickness in the spring game. Senior Tyler Jolly will lead the defensive line at the end position. Isaac Adonis and Anthony Pata will secure the center at middle linebacker. Both are over 6 feet, big and quick.
Chen-Young will be a two-way player for the Wolverines, playing cornerback as well. “We’ll have many two-players this year,” Abel said.
Chen-Young was recently voted as the fifth-ranked cornerback in the county by ESPN and was also added to the ESPN Papa John’s Top 63.
Wellington returns one of the best kicking games in Palm Beach County with senior Logan Robinson. He was a Lou Groza award nominee last season and is sure to be nominated again this year.
“It’s no secret what we’re going to do,” Abel said. “Everybody knows we’re going to kick the onside and directional kick on you, and Logan has worked extremely hard in the off-season to get his leg stronger.”
Robinson is sure to put points on the board. Abel noted that he consistently puts up 50-plus-yard field goals during practice.
Wellington occupies one of the toughest districts in the county, with Palm Beach Gardens, Seminole Ridge, Palm Beach Central and Jupiter high schools. Its schedule is equally as tough, with Atlantic, William T. Dwyer, Boca Raton and Fort Pierce Central high schools among the list.
Wellington will have its preseason kickoff classic on the road against Palm Beach Lakes High School on Friday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Wellington slot receiver Sage Chen-Young runs the ball during a scrimmage.