The high school football season is underway, and Wellington High School’s football coaches and players are confident they can successfully defend the District 9-8A title they won last year against rival Palm Beach Gardens High School.
Wolverines head coach Tom Abel is entering his sixth season at the helm. Abel has molded a new tradition with the Wellington program, winning the district title twice in three seasons, posting the school’s all-time best record at 11-2 in 2014 and taking his team to a first-ever regional finals appearance.
Abel believes that this team mirrors the chemistry of the 2014 season. If that holds true, look for the Wolverines to challenge in the postseason.
“We’re very blessed to have the guys we have,” Abel said. “We consider ourselves the underdog, and that’s the way we like it.”
The Wellington team is young, with only 14 seniors on the squad, but coaches feel that they have depth on both offense and defense. The chemistry that coach Abel spoke of during practice was evident in their work ethic on the field.
Wellington senior quarterback Connor Rogers will most likely get the nod to lead the Wolverine offense. With a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, he demonstrated good arm strength and made accurate throws during a recent practice.
Rogers is aware of the quarterback tradition that has been established at Wellington, and he believes he is up for the challenge. “I played backup quarterback last year, and receiver,” he explained. “I just have to step up. We have a tough schedule, and I just have to step up.”
The Wolverines also have Austin Wallace at quarterback, and Abel is confident with his depth at the position.
Wellington’s offensive line returns, and averages 280 pounds across the board. Adrian Tiburcio anchors the line. Michael Palmateer returns as the center for the offensive line. At 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, he will be a force in the trenches.
Offensively, Wellington will rely on Mark Anthony Richards to be the workhorse. Richards is the younger brother of University of Miami standout Ahmmon Richards, also a WHS alum. Richards will be around the ball, on both sides, according to Abel. He’s likely to line up at running back and slot receiver, while playing safety on defense.
Balitan Celestin will also line up at the slot receiver position. The junior has height and speed to complement his catching ability.
Defensively, the Wolverines look to have a strong defensive line and linebacker corps this season. Chandler Loiseau will lead the defensive line. Big and fast at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, he will likely be the focal point for opposing offensive units. Ryan Petrovich will solidify the middle linebacker spot. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he is physical and can jam the middle.
Micah Conway returns to the Wellington secondary at the corner position. He was an impact player last year for the Wolverines and will see some time on offense as well.
Wellington will be tested this season with matchups again state powers Vero Beach, William T. Dwyer and Atlantic high schools. District 9-8A is arguably one of the toughest, with Seminole Ridge, Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter high schools.
Look for this district to be very competitive this season, and the Wolverines probably will challenge for the championship this fall.