BY GENE NARDI
On Friday, Nov. 21, the Royal Palm Beach High School varsity football team hosted district rival Atlantic High School in the Class 7A regional semifinal game and bested the Eagles 28-7. The game was a rematch of an earlier meeting between the two squads. The Wildcats (11-1) won that contest as well, 44-7.
The semifinal victory earned Royal Palm Beach a berth in the regional final game against Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Atlantic appeared to have its defensive tactics in order, as the defense initially held the Wildcats to a three-and-out, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty kept the drive alive. Royal Palm Beach running back Charles Perry jumped out for a big 23-yard gain, which set up his 6-yard touchdown score, the first of the game. Devin Wallace’s kick made it 7-0.
The Eagles would not get on the board until late in the first half, and not before Wildcat running back Shamar Jackson added two more rushing touchdowns, to give Royal Palm Beach a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Wildcats compiled 250 yards on the ground on the night against the Eagles defense. Jackson was equally devastating to the Eagles on defense, intercepting Atlantic quarterback Edwin Hernandez twice in the second half. Jackson would add one more touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 7-yard run to make the final 28-7.
“We played with a lot of tempo. With the weather the way it was, our ball security was good,” coach Willie Bueno said.
Royal Palm Beach will make the school’s first regional finals appearance, but is up against top-ranked Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas.
Perry had 151 yards on 23 carries, and a score. Jackson had three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night.
“This time of year, you have to play error-free football, and I think we were pretty good tonight,” Bueno added, adding that his team with be ready to face St. Thomas Aquinas.
Royal Palm will play the Raiders (11-1) in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the regional final. The winner advances to the state semifinals.
ABOVE: Wildcat Shamar Jackson looks for running room.