BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Central High School varsity football squad hosted Fort Pierce Central High School on Friday, Aug. 19 for a preseason kickoff classic game. The Broncos bested the Cobras 12-3.
Fort Pierce Central is a known football power, and the Broncos could not wait to be put to the test. They met the Cobras and dominated on both sides of the ball. Bronco head coach Tino Ierulli could not have been more pleased with his squad.
“I’m very proud of them, they lived up to our defensive philosophy,” Ierulli explained. “Eleven helmets to the ball, three and out, and zero touchdowns.”
The Bronco defense played an aggressive game throughout, making it difficult for the Cobras to get a first down during most of the first half.
Palm Beach Central’s ground game, led by Anthony Wynds, proved difficult for Fort Pierce to handle. Wynds ended the night as the workhorse, racking up 223 yards on 33 carries and one touchdown. Wynds capped a 78-yard drive with a 2-yard score up the middle. Adam Virgili added the point-after kick to give the Broncos an early 7-0 lead with three minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Bronco defense rose to the occasion when linebacker Nick Carraccio sacked the Fort Pierce quarterback in the end zone for a safety to extend Palm Beach Central’s lead to 9-0 at the start of the second quarter. Palm Beach Central managed to shut out the Cobras in the first half, limiting them to just a single first down. The Broncos nearly extended their lead at the whistle when Virgili’s 46-yard field goal attempt went just wide.
The Broncos continued their momentum into the second half, dominating on defense. Fort Pierce managed a 30-yard field goal to close the gap to 9-3 midway through the third quarter. However, the Broncos continued to pound the Cobra offense into submission, while the offense racked up positive yards on the ground. “We had three starting offensive linemen out and had two young guys step in and step up,” Ierulli said.
Virgili punched in a 25-yard field goal with less than three minutes to play, giving the Broncos a 12-3 margin and the kickoff classic victory.
“I really like where the offense is right now,” Ierulli said. “We had six dropped passes, which once we get settled in, it will make our run game much more effective.”
Linebacker Ben Panitz had seven tackles and a forced fumble, and strong safety Jeramiah Anderson had an interception and one pass break-up on defense. Linebacker Jeremy Cineus also had seven tackles.
The Broncos will start the regular season, opening on the road against Park Vista High School on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.
“We’ll continue to swarm to the football on defense, and offense will have worked their kinks out,” Ierulli said.
ABOVE: Nick Carroccio, Ben Panitz and the Bronco defense smother the Fort Pierce ball carrier.