BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School varsity football squad hosted crosstown rival Seminole Ridge High School on Friday, Nov. 7, and capped the regular season in winning fashion 42-26. RPBHS fans celebrated the win during homecoming festivities.
The Wildcat win also marks the second straight over the Hawks. Prior to the back-to-back wins, it was the Hawks that won the previous four.
The Wildcats also finish one of the most successful seasons in the school’s history, capping a 9-1, 4-1 season, and entering the postseason as the District 13-7A champions.
Seminole Ridge (5-5, 1-2) battled the No. 2 Wildcats in the first half blow-for-blow, but Royal Palm squeaked out a 21-20 halftime lead. The Hawks entered the contest with a two-game win streak, and local bragging rights were on the line.
Royal Palm Beach quarterback Toddy Centeio extended the Wildcat lead early in the third quarter when he connected with Derick Python for a 30-yard touchdown pass to create some space in the RPBHS lead 28-20.
Turnovers would haunt the Hawks in the second half, and Royal Palm Beach would capitalize on the Hawk mishaps. Running back Charles Perry ran it in from 25 yards out to score for the Wildcats. Devin Wallace’s kick extended the Royal Palm Beach lead to 35-20.
The Wildcats would cap another scoring drive after a Seminole Ridge fumble. Perry would again run in for the touchdown, this time from 5 yards out. Wallace’s kick made it 42-20. The Hawks clawed back with a score to close the gap, making it 42-26.
Seminole Ridge, determined to make a comeback, moved the ball inside the Royal Palm Beach 10-yard line, but a Kerrith Whyte fumble halted a sure Hawk touchdown, and Royal Palm Beach regained possession.
The Hawk defense grappled with the Wildcat offense, holding them on downs, giving the Hawks the ball back in an effort to close the gap. Seminole Ridge running back Jordan Tanner scored on an 80-yard screen play to come within 16 at 42-26.
Another Seminole Ridge turnover would rain on the team’s come-from-behind efforts, this time an interception by Wildcat cornerback Shamar Jackson. Royal Palm Beach would hold on to the 42-26 lead and the homecoming win.
“This was a good rivalry win for our program. It was a little sloppy, but it gives us some nice momentum to carry into the playoffs,” Royal Palm Beach coach Willie Bueno said.
Perry finished with 17 carries for 96 yards and two scores. Jackson had 80 yards on 11 carries, with a score. He is also credited with an interception. Centeio completed 11 of 16 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Royal Palm Beach will host Fort Lauderdale High School on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in a regional quarterfinal game. The winner will move on to face the winner of Atlantic vs. Pompano Beach Blanche-Ely in the regional semifinals.
ABOVE: Royal Palm receiver D.J. Edwards battles Seminole Ridge defenders Chase Johnston and Joey Schergen for the ball.