High school football has kicked off in Palm Beach County, and the Palm Beach Central High School Broncos are among the teams projected to make a big splash, particularly in what is touted as the toughest district in the county, District 9-8A.
The Broncos seem eager to get back into the post-season groove and challenge for the district title. The team fell short after a close loss to rival Palm Beach Gardens High School on the road, but apparently, from visiting a recent practice and an FHSAA scrimmage last weekend, the Broncos are up to the challenge.
Palm Beach Central has put together one of the toughest schedules in the county, with games against Atlantic, Melbourne Central Catholic and Tallahassee Lincoln to start off the season. They must then face, looming in the district, defending district champion Wellington High School, along with Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Gardens high schools, all expected to be competitive for the post-season.
Coach Tino Ierulli leads his squad into his fourth season as the head coach. Palm Beach Central has not won a district title in four years, since Ierulli’s inaugural season. But Ierulli and his staff are confident in their team’s progress. The Broncos have size and speed this year, plus many key returning players, who will shake things up on the field this season.
The most notable transfer to the squad is Pahokee’s Akeem Dent. The junior, verbally committed to Florida State, is likely to see playing time on both sides of the ball for the Broncos. He can make big plays as a safety and as a receiver.
Palm Beach Central’s front is large and in charge, averaging 280 pounds across the line. Oxbridge Academy transfers Quindaris Burgess and Renato Brown add more size to an already mammoth line. Both are 6-foot-5 and over 300 pounds, with Burgess tipping the scale at 345.
Arkam Malik and Roderick Carter Jr. return for the Broncos on the front. Malik will line up over the center at nose guard on the defense. Senior cornerback Justin Kolnick will anchor the defense with his experience, speed and ability to read plays. Junior Jesus Santiago will also line up in the defensive back position.
Offensively for the Broncos, two quarterbacks will battle for the starting role, senior Nick Atkins and junior Michael Moreland. Both return from last year and are hungry for playing time. Atkins stepped in last season when Moreland sustained a season-ending injury in the Wellington game. Both are healthy and competitive right now.
Charles Stewart and Lakevious Simmons will combine for the ground game on the Bronco offense. Tre Jackson and Fornoris Roberts will play receiver. Both are seniors and have good speed.
The offense is loaded with depth for the Broncos, and the defense is quick and physical. Palm Beach Central participated in a recent FHSAA officials clinic scrimmage that included several teams competing in one quarter of regulation play, while officials were trained on how to manage and call the game.
The Broncos fell to Oxbridge 10-8 in a tight contest. In typical fashion, the scrimmage started out shakily with teams trying to work out the kinks, but showing definite signs that they will be a force in Palm Beach County this season.
The Broncos host Sebastian River High School for a pre-season kickoff classic Friday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. The team opens the regular season hosting Atlantic High School on Friday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Bronco running back Lakevious Simmons tries to break a tackle against Oxbridge.