BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School boys varsity football team bested Palm Beach Gardens High School 14-10 in a spring matchup Friday, May 24 at home in Royal Palm Beach.
The brief spring season gives coaches a chance to evaluate returning players and newcomers, as well prepare for the fall.
Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens represent different districts and did not face each other last fall. The two teams will not likely meet again, but based on the football-rich tradition at both schools, last week’s game was much anticipated by local fans.
The game kicked off with penalties and mistakes. The Gators drew first blood with a 35-yard field goal six minutes into the first quarter. Both teams began to work out their kinks as the game played on. In the second quarter, Royal Palm Beach gambled on a fourth and long inside the red zone, with a big run by Charles Perry for 9 yards and a first down on the Palm Beach Gardens’ 1 yard line. Two plays later, Demarcus Holloway ran in for the score. Devin Wallace’s PAT gave the Wildcats a 7-3 lead.
Palm Beach Gardens sustained a drive midway through the second quarter. Receiver Mario Brown scored on a 14-yard pass from quarterback J.P. Caruso to regain the lead 10-7, which is where the game stood when the first half closed.
It was Wildcat running back Mike Jones with the lone score in the fourth quarter to put Royal Palm Beach back on top, where they would hold on, relying on aggressive defense to close out the 14-10 win.
The Wildcat defense proved plenty for Caruso, one of Palm Beach County’s best quarterbacks, pressuring him to move out of the pocket. Although Royal Palm Beach struggled putting the ball in the air, they did just enough with the ground attack to get the victory.
If there is one thing that is certain, the Wildcats will boast an impressive and aggressive defense going into the fall season. Injuries haunted the Wildcat offense this spring, so it may be too early to pass judgment. A healthy Wildcat squad could likely make a run for the District 13-7A title next season.
ABOVE: RPB defenders Cody Taylor and Anthony James take down a Palm Beach Gardens receiver after a short gain. (Left) Wildcats running back Charles Perry runs for a big gain down the sideline. (Right) Defenders Joshua Wilson and Drequan Johnson sack Palm Beach Gardens quarterback J.P. Caruso for a big loss.