On Friday, Oct. 14, the Palm Beach Central High School football team traveled to Seminole Ridge High School for a pivotal District 9-8A showdown. The Broncos handed the Hawks their first loss of the season, 8-3.
The win gave the Broncos (4-2, 2-0) the edge in the district overall, but it did not come easily. Seminole Ridge (5-1, 2-1) got on the board in the first half with Daniel Freire’s 27-yard field goal. The three points would be all the Hawks could collect for the remainder of the game, going up against a tough Bronco defense led by Florida State commit Akeem Dent, who posted two interceptions on the night.
The Broncos had to battle a tough Seminole Ridge defense and 105 yards in penalties, in addition to having two touchdowns called back due to infractions.
Early in the fourth quarter, it was a game of grit between the two district foes. “It feels like I’m getting too old for this,” Bronco head coach Tino Ierulli said. “It’s a very fun game to coach, because it’s a chess match, but it’s also very nerve-wracking because you never know what’s going to happen when you’ve got two good teams battling.”
The Broncos put together a drive led by quarterback Nick Atkins, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 205 yards on the night. C.J. Stewart capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to lift the Broncos into the lead. Dent’s diving two-point conversion extended the lead to 8-3. Stewart recorded 22 carries for 112 yards.
With only minutes to play, Seminole Ridge needed an offensive surge; on a fourth-and-1 inside their own 40-yard line, a driving run by running back Corey Polk converted to move the chains and keep the drive alive. On the next play, Hawk quarterback Kaimyn Castilla connected with senior receiver Justin Allie for a 45-yard gain.
The Hawks dug in, driving to the Palm Beach Central red zone. Polk turned a potential loss into a near touchdown, dragging Bronco defenders toward the goal line, only to be stripped of the ball by Dent at the 1-yard line. The fumble resulted in a touchback for the Broncos, and a change of possession gave them the ball.
The Seminole Ridge defense held the Broncos, forcing a turnover on downs, giving the Hawks one more shot to rally, but the comeback was short-lived when Dent picked off a Castilla pass deep in the middle of the field. Palm Beach Central ran out the remaining seconds on the clock to lock in the 8-3 victory.
The stubborn Bronco defense limited Seminole Ridge to 138 total yards on offense.
“That’s all we do, is rebound,” Seminole Ridge head coach James Parson said. “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were in the past, we’re moving forward and, with the point system, we have to take Pahokee.”
Palm Beach Central will finish up district play hosting Jupiter High School for homecoming on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m., while Seminole Ridge travels to Pahokee High School for a non-district match.