BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School varsity football squad hosted rival Seminole Ridge High School in a key district game Thursday, Oct. 16, and dominated the Hawks 42-15 before a packed stadium on seniors night.
Wellington (7-1, 2-0) needed the win to clinch a playoff spot. Seminole Ridge (3-4, 0-2) needed the win to stay in contention. It was eight years ago, Seminole Ridge’s inaugural year, when the Wolverines last defeated the Hawks on the gridiron.
Wellington quarterback Shannon Patrick threw for 327 yards and five touchdowns against the Hawks and helped propel the Wolverines right into the driver’s seat of District 9-8A.
Patrick has thrown for more than 2,000 yards on the season — plus 32 touchdowns.
Wellington took the ball and capped a 90-yard drive in nine plays with an 18-yard touchdown pass. Patrick found receiver Ahmmon Richards for the score. Alex Ng’s kick gave the Wolverines an early 7-0 lead.
It was the three recovered onside kicks that Wellington took advantage of throughout the night. “He is one of the best kickers in the county,” coach Thomas Abel said of Ng. “He can put it anywhere we want.”
The first onside kick came immediately after the first Wellington touchdown. The Wolverines took over on the Seminole Ridge 42-yard line. Running back Mike Howard powered in for a 1-yard touchdown run. Ng’s kick extended the Wellington lead to 14-0.
The Hawks responded on their ensuing drive, when running back Jordan Tanner ran to the outside 15 yards for the score. Jacob Curran’s kick made it 14-7.
That was the closest Seminole Ridge would come to mustering a comeback. The Wolverines tallied two more scores to take a 28-7 halftime lead.
The second half did not start well for the Hawks. Wellington drove in two more touchdowns in the first three minutes to take a comfortable 42-7 lead, both after onside kicks. The Hawks managed to find the end zone one more time before the end of the game to close the gap to 42-15.
“This win is huge. They have the confidence. They think they can beat anybody,” said a teary-eyed Abel after the game. “I’m very proud of this team. They’ve worked so hard.”
Patrick completed 22 of 40 passes. Richards reeled in 107 yards on six receptions and two scores. Jean Rene recorded seven receptions for 99 yards and three touchdowns. Howard is credited with 64 yards on the ground and a score.
The decisive victory may be an exclamation point that Wellington can play against anybody, and the Wolverines now have Palm Beach Gardens High School on the radar. The Wolverines have a bye week, but will travel to Palm Beach Gardens on Friday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. with the district title on the line.
Seminole Ridge will host Pahokee High School on Friday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. for the homecoming game.
ABOVE: Wellington receiver Jean Rene pulls down one of his touchdown catches as Hawks free safety Joey Schergen tries to defend.