BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School varsity football team hosted crosstown rival Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, Sept. 18 and deflated the Broncos 35-6 in a District 9-8A matchup.
With the win, the Wolverines recaptured the Mayor’s Cup. It was 10 years ago that Wellington last held the cup. After that victory, the Wolverines went 0-5 against the Broncos. Last Friday night, the seventh-ranked Wolverines (3-1, 1-0) broke that streak with an exclamation point. Quarterback Blake Dever completed 19 of 28 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns.
The game’s first half lived up to the hype, as Wellington broke the ice after a defensive battle. Dever found receiver Ahmmon Richards for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Logan Robinson’s kick gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.
Palm Beach Central (0-4, 0-1) responded with a 28-yard touchdown run from Jordan Canady, but the point after was no good, and Wellington held a close 7-6 lead. Dever went to work in the second quarter, this time sending a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Atkinson. The score capped a six-play drive that spanned 60 yards. Robinson’s kick extended Wellington’s lead to 14-6.
The Broncos tried to cut into the gap. They attempted to convert on a fourth-and-long in midfield, but Wellington defensive back Nick Atkins picked off a Jordan Travis pass for a 22-yard return to close out the first half.
Palm Beach Central entered the second half with a drive to the Wellington 30-yard line, but the stubborn Wolverine defense denied the Broncos an equalizer. Wellington took over possession, and sustained a drive that led to Dever connecting with Richards again, this time for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Robinson’s kick gave Wellington a 21-6 advantage.
The Broncos fared no better in the fourth quarter. They struggled to move the ball against an increasingly aggressive Wellington defense, forcing a punt situation to start the quarter. Wellington struck again when Kevin Wright returned a Bronco punt 80 yards for the score. Robinson’s kick put Wellington up 28-6.
Wellington receiver Austin Gilman delivered the knockout blow to the Broncos when he reeled in a pass from Dever and raced 74 yards for the touchdown. The score put the game out of reach for the Broncos, and Wellington reveled in the 35-6 Mayor’s Cup win.
“We’re just glad we can continue the rivalry and bring it back to what it used to be,” Wellington coach Tom Abel said. “We’re hoping we can continue some outstanding success and keep the [Mayor’s Cup] here for a while.”
Richards had 10 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Gilman had three catches for 119 yards and a score. Atkinson had three receptions and a score. Wright is credited with the 80-yard touchdown. Linebacker Alex Brosseau had 13 tackles on defense, and Atkins had one interception.
The district win puts Wellington atop District 9-8A, and the Wolverines will now host state-ranked Fort Pierce Central High School. Palm Beach Central will travel to play Glades Central High School. Both teams play Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Wellington receiver Ahmmon Richards stays in bounds after a reception and stiff-arms a Bronco defender for a big gain.