BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School football squad traveled to play host Royal Palm Beach High School on Friday, Sept. 4 and held off a late Wildcat rally to earn the 27-21 win.
The win marked the first regular-season victory for the Wolverines, after they dropped the season opener to Atlantic High School 49-7.
“We had a mental letdown last week,” Wellington coach Tom Abel said. “Three hundred yards rushing on our defense was unacceptable.”
It was a game of two halves, with Wellington (1-1) dominating in the first, then Royal Palm Beach putting on a stellar display of its own in the second. Both teams also managed to combine for more than 200 yards in penalties.
The No. 9-ranked Wolverines racked up 27 first-half points. Wellington scored on its first possession. Quarterback Blake Dever found Ahmmon Richards on a 12-yard fade to the corner of the end zone. The touchdown capped an 80-yard, eight-play drive for the Wolverines to give the team an early 7-0 lead.
Dever led Wellington on its second possession to the Royal Palm Beach 18. There, he connected with junior receiver Kevin Wright for the 18-yard score. Logan Robinson’s kick was blocked, and Wellington’s lead became 13-0.
No. 10 Wildcats (0-2) finally found some momentum on offense. Quarterback Adarius Dent and his squad mustered a 60-yard, eight-play drive, which was capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Phillips that closed the Wellington lead to 13-6. Royal Palm Beach’s kick was blocked.
Wellington fired back in the second quarter. Dever found Richards again, on a short hook pattern. Richards broke two tackles, and darted off 85 yards down the Royal Palm Beach sideline for a touchdown. Robinson’s kick gave the Wolverines a 20-6 lead. Dever led his crew on their next possession; this time, he found senior Austin Gilman on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Gilman stretched out at the pylon for the score. Wellington now had a 27-6 halftime lead and appeared on the way for a big win, but the Wildcats had other plans.
Royal Palm Beach mixed it up on defense in the second half, blitzing Wellington and keeping the offense off balance. Dent led the Wildcats for two scores. The speedy quarterback scored on runs from 7 yards and 1 yard out to cut the Wellington lead to 27-21.
Wellington’s defense denied a late Wildcat rally on a fourth-and-one at the 20 to turn over possession. From there, the Wolverines ran out the clock and clinched the victory.
“We stalled on offense in the second half,” Abel said. “We take one game at a time, and it’s a work in progress. We still have a lot of things to fix.”
Dent was 10 of 20 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. He also is credited with two scores for the Wildcats. Dever completed 10 of 19 passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns. Richards had two scores. Wellington linebackers Alex Brosseau and Alec Malynn combined for 22 tackles.
Royal Palm Beach traveled to the Oxbridge Academy on Thursday, Sept. 10, but results were not available at press time. Wellington hosts John I. Leonard High School on Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Wellington receiver Ahmmon Richards catches a touchdown pass in the end zone.