On Friday, Nov. 3, the Wellington High School football team traveled to Atlantic High School in Delray Beach in hopes for a win to stay alive in the post-season race, but watched an early lead slip away in a 21-5 loss to the Eagles.
The loss closed the book on the Wolverines’ season with a 4-5 record (2-2 in the district). It also marks the first time in three years that Wellington did not make a post-season appearance.
“I’m happy with the way the season went,” Wellington head coach Tom Abel said. “Considering what we had to deal with, we salvaged the season. I’m proud of the boys. They could have folded, but they didn’t, and I’m proud of the way they handled things.”
The Wolverines drove down the field from their 27-yard line and capped the initial drive of the game with a 30-yard Morgan Suarez field goal to take an early 3-0 lead over the Eagles. The lead slipped away when Wellington attempted an onside kick that fell right into the hands of the Eagles at the Wolverine 45-yard line. Atlantic put together just enough offense to give Eagle quarterback Antoine Williams the opportunity to run it in from 10 yards out. The play came off a fourth down and inches at the Wolverine 11-yard line. Atlantic led 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
Atlantic attempted an onside on the ensuing kick but gave Wellington the ball on the Wolverine 47-yard line. However, the Wolverines could not convert it into points. The offensive units struggled against tough defensive play during the first half. Mark Anthony Richards picked off an Atlantic pass in midfield, giving Wellington another opportunity to cut the margin, but a sputtering Wolverine offense could not keep the engine running on all cylinders.
The Eagles broke through again, late in the second quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-3. The Wolverine offense began to click, and drove to the Eagle 11-yard line, but turned over the ball after a fourth-and-short was snuffed by a tough Atlantic defense with seconds left in the half.
Wellington closed the gap in the second half when the Wolverines recorded a safety in the end zone to make the score 14-5. Punter Jadien Durant booted a 64-yard punt, to allow the punt team to tackle the Eagle ball carrier in the end zone. The play provided another chance for the Wolverines to rally, but a mishandled free kick turned over possession to the Eagles. The Eagles would add one more score before the final whistle to secure the 21-5 win.
“I thought the defense played very well,” Abel said. “You can’t expect your defense to battle a team like Atlantic and come out on top when you turn the ball over as much as we did.”
Wellington’s defense limited the Eagle offense to just six yards rushing on the night, but it was the six turnovers that haunted the Wolverines. Suarez is credited with a 30-yard field goal for Wellington. Defensive tackle Chandler Louiseau recorded two sacks for the Wolverines.
“Chandler played lights out tonight,” Abel said of the senior lineman.