BY GENE NARDI
The Seminole Ridge High School football team hosted rival Royal Palm Beach High School on Friday, Sept. 23 for the annual “Best of the West” game, and the Hawks put together a second-half surge to overcome the Wildcats 30-14.
The win handed the Hawks the “Best of the West” trophy, which has spent the past several years at Royal Palm Beach High School.
“Normally, I’m a calm guy, but I had to let out the fire at halftime,” SRHS coach James Parson said. “I told them how important this game was, and I needed 11 guys doing their job every play, and they responded.”
Both teams battled defensively, shutting down the opposing offense. The Wildcats were able to hold on to a 7-3 halftime lead.
Seminole Ridge fumbled the opening kickoff to start the second half; the Wildcats were able to capitalize on the turnover. Running back Zeke Brown took off on a 22-yard touchdown run to extend Royal Palm Beach’s lead to 14-3. It seemed as if everything was going in the Wildcats’ direction.
But the Hawk offense was not going down without a fight. Seminole Ridge sustained a responding drive with a balanced attack through the air and ground. Running back Dylan Mohl capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run up the middle to reduce the deficit to 14-10 early in the third quarter.
Another pivotal moment in the second half that provided the Hawks with more momentum was a Royal Palm Beach attempt to convert on a fourth-and-five in midfield, but a relentless Seminole Ridge defense denied the conversion, turning the ball over to the Hawk offense.
Royal Palm Beach would not find the end zone again. The Hawks found it often, racking up 20 more points before the final whistle.
Parson’s words of 11 guys doing their job on every play stuck like glue. The Hawks capped another long drive with a 2-yard scoring run by Nick Plesca. Daniel Freire’s point-after kick gave the Hawks their first lead of the game, 17-14, to start the fourth quarter.
The Seminole Ridge defense played strong in the last quarter, keeping the Wildcats from reaching the goal line, and the offense continued to plunge at the heart of the Wildcats. Running back Jeremiah Brown ran to the outside and sprinted 80 yards for a Hawk touchdown to extend the lead to 24-14.
Hawk running back Greg Henry would plow in from about 4 yards out to put the icing on the cake for the Hawks, giving them the 30-14 win.
The Hawks racked up 331 yards on the ground. Brown tallied 110 yards and one touchdown. Kristian Gonzalez totaled 80 yards on seven carries. Mohl had eight rushes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Plesca, Henry and freshman Corey Polk combined for 71 yards rushing.
The win gave the Hawks the “Best of the West” trophy, which transferred schools for the year. Five different players scored for the Hawks, including Freire’s first-half field goal.
The win also puts the Hawks at 2-2 on the season. They will travel to face district foe Wellington High School on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.
Royal Palm Beach falls to 1-4 midway through their season and will be on the road at Palm Beach Lakes High School for a district game on Friday, Sept. 30.
ABOVE: The Seminole Ridge football team with the Best of the West trophy after their 30-14 victory.