BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School football team hosted John I. Leonard High School on Friday, Nov. 7, outscoring the Lancers 49-28 before a capacity homecoming crowd.
Last week, Wellington (9-1, 3-0) defeated Palm Beach Gardens 23-17 for the District 9-8A title, and looked to finish the regular season on a high note with the win. The victory marks the eighth straight for the Wolverines.
In traditional fashion, No. 6 Wellington opened the game by recovering an onside kick, then marched down the field for the first score of the game. Quarterback Shannon Patrick connected with receiver Ahmmon Richards on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Alex Ng’s kick gave Wellington a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes expired on the clock.
The Wolverines racked up two more scores in the first quarter before the Lancers (4-6, 3-3) finally settled into the game. Patrick found Jean Rene on a 30-yard touchdown play, then Richards again, this time on a 55-yard score.
As Wellington continued its scoring ways, and entered the second quarter with a 21-0 lead, the Lancers decided they would start scoring and closed the gap at the half to 28-14, but not before Patrick would find Richards for his third touchdown pass of the night, this time for a 14-yard grab.
After the halftime show and homecoming festivities, it was back to business for Wellington. The offense went back to work, while the defense stuttered at times. A solid running game with an occasional pass threat by the Lancers kept them in the contest, until Patrick and company put the game out of reach.
An early special teams error kick-started the Lancers’ second wind in the second half, when a low snap led to a blocked Wellington punt to give John I. Leonard possession on the Wolverine 5-yard line. Ernst Belliard eventually capped the short drive. The Lancers would score again for the final time of their season, totaling 28 points, but it would not be enough against the overpowering Wolverines, who have been averaging 42 points a game.
Patrick completed 13 of 24 on the night for 314 yards and six touchdowns. Richards had seven receptions for 204 yards and tallied five touchdown receptions. Austin Gilman had three catches for 54 yards. Rene reeled in two catches for 47 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Running back Mike Howard had 101 combined yards. Patrick has 2,604 regular-season passing yards and 40 touchdowns.
Wellington enters postseason play for the first time since 2010 and will host Park Vista High School on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in a regional quarterfinal game. The winner will advance to face the winner of the Palm Beach Central High School vs. Palm Beach Gardens High School game in the regional semifinals.
ABOVE: Wellington running back Kyle Branch runs up the middle for a gain.