BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School football team hosted local rival Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, Nov. 4 in a non-district match-up and held off a second-half Bronco rally to take a 17-14 win.
The Wildcat victory marked the third in a three-game win streak to end the regular season. Neither team will enter postseason play. The Broncos’ hopes ended last week in a close loss to District 9-8A rival Palm Beach Gardens High School. The Wildcats needed some help to creep into the playoffs, but those hopes were dashed when Palm Beach Lakes High School won its contest.
The first half was all Royal Palm Beach; the young offense seemed to be running on all cylinders. The first score came when wide-out Rashad Johnson darted to the outside 15 yards to cross the goal line and give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead. The second came when quarterback Teja Young plowed his way into the end zone from 4 yards out to extend the Royal Palm Beach lead to 14-0.
Kicker Roland Tyson added three more points with a late first-half field goal from 32 yards out to lift Royal Palm Beach to a 17-0 lead to end the half. The Wildcat defense slowed down the Bronco run attack enough to keep them out of the end zone.
The start of the second half played a different tune early on. Palm Beach Central‘s opening possession was capped with a 12-yard touchdown run by running back Lakeavious Simmons. He powered his way through the Royal Palm Beach defense to get into the end zone. Running back Anthony Wynds dove in on a sweep for the two-point conversion to close the gap to 17-8 early in the second half.
Free safety Jesus Santiago recovered a Royal Palm Beach fumble in midfield, giving the Broncos possession and a chance to cut into the Wildcat lead. Wynds capped a five-play, 52-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. With less than four minutes to play in the final quarter, the Broncos trailed just 17-14 and controlled the tempo of the game.
The Broncos gained possession again and began a drive beyond midfield, but penalties infected the offensive momentum and eventually forced a punt. Royal Palm Beach did enough offensively to run down the clock and regained control in the final minute to claim the 17-14 victory.
“Offensively, I think we did a great job,” Royal Palm Beach head coach Willie Bueno said. “We limited them to three possessions in the first half. We’re young, so we feel like we really have a good group coming back.”
The win improves the Wildcats’ season scorecard, giving them a 4-6 final record. The Broncos finish at 3-7 on the season.
Johnson and Young are credited with a touchdown each, and Tyson logged a 32-yard field goal for the Wildcats. Palm Beach Central’s Simmons had four carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. Wynds tallied 145 yards on 15 rushes, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Running back T.J. Stewart had four carries for 21 yards.
Wynds’ rushing total on the night propelled him over the 2,000-yard mark, making him the leading rusher in Palm Beach County with 2,006 yards on the ground.
ABOVE: Running back Voshon Jackson powers through the Palm Beach Central defense for the Wildcats.