The Palm Beach Central High School football team, like many other high school teams, has been hitting the gridiron every day after school through the 20-day spring practice season. The brief spring season allows teams to be groomed for the fall season and includes a spring game.
The Broncos were a district competitor last season and missed the post-season by just one game. In the fall, Palm Beach Central has plans to make the playoffs.
“Our 3-7 record last season could have easy been 7-3 if we would have had a balanced passing game,” Bronco head coach Tino Ierulli said.
The Broncos relied on a running attack behind Anthony Wynds, who wrangled in 2,006 rushing yards in a single season. Wynds graduates and leaves large shoes to fill.
“Last year, teams loaded the box on us, and the kids still did that, so if we can get our passing game down more, we can balance it out,” Ierulli said.
The Broncos have two players dueling it out for the quarterback spot, Nick Atkins and Michael Moreland. Moreland was the starter last season but sustained a season-ending injury in the game against Wellington. Atkins stepped in to take on the role for the remainder. Both look impressive and expect to see action during the spring game.
Tyler Baker and Tre Jackson return as members of the receiving corps for the Bronco offense. Palm Beach Central will look to be more of threat through the air to opposing defenses.
Julian Johnson and Lakevious Simmons return as the running backs, and seek to make an impact in the Broncos ground game. In front of the Bronco backs are a big offensive line that will open up the holes, paving the way to positive yardage and touchdowns.
Arguably, the player receiving most of the attention in the Broncos camp has been Pahokee transfer Akeem Dent. The sophomore will likely line up at cornerback and has already solidified his role on the squad. He will join Jackson, Baker and a host of others on the typically quick and aggressive defense. Dent may see time on the offense as a receiver, as well.
Ierulli pointed out that since Dent has been at camp, several Division I scouts have visited the school, which has not been a distraction but a positive influence on all of the players.
“We’ve had Tennessee, Alabama, the University of South Carolina, South Florida, Florida,” Ierulli said. “All of the big schools have been here, and they’ve been looking at some of our other kids.”
Ierulli has been rebuilding his squad over the last two seasons, and with a strict weight training and nutrition plan, that is producing dividends for the players. With the return of many young starters who now have experience under their belts, Ierulli is confident that his team will perform in what has been coined as their potential breakout year.
“I will be very disappointed if it’s not,” Ierulli said. “We are very optimistic, we’re very excited.”
Ierulli is concerned about the new FHSAA playoff format. “If FHSAA wants to have a point system, that’s fine,” he said. “But when we don’t have control over our schedule, then it puts us at a disadvantage; it hurts teams that have a shot.”
The Broncos are in District 9-8A with Seminole Ridge, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and Jupiter.
Palm Beach Central hosts Centennial High School in the spring game Friday, May 19.
ABOVE: Bronco quarterback Michael Moreland throws downfield during passing drills.