Wildcats Football Squad Rebuilding With A New Coach

Royal Palm Beach assistant coach Scott Barnwell debriefs the team after a spring practice session.

Spring football has swept through Royal Palm Beach High School, and the Wildcats are in a restructuring phase to improve upon last fall’s dismal season.

Royal Palm Beach finished 0-10 and are looking uphill as they train through the 20 spring sessions approved by the FHSAA. Longtime coach Willie Bueno stepped down earlier in the year, and Elton Gikes has temporarily taken the role as head coach this spring. A decision will be made by the athletic director soon on who will be named head coach.

Another new face to the Wildcats is former Seminole Ridge High School head coach Scott Barnwell. Barnwell admits that the team is young but has great potential to improve upon last season. “I think we’re head and shoulders above where we were last year,” he said. “We got a lot of sophomores from last year who are going to be juniors next year, so we’re really young, but we have some talented, skilled kids.”

Frantz Belamour returns to the offensive line to anchor the trenches. “He’s just unbelievably aggressive,” Barnwell said.

Belamour will likely see time on both the offensive and defensive line in the Wildcats’ spring game against Oxbridge Academy. Rising senior Brian Ormsby and Chris Benjamin return for the Wildcats on the line as well and are looking to make a contribution.

Derrick Cruikshank plans to be the workhorse in the backfield for Royal Palm Beach’s new offense. Cruikshank just returned from the state track meet and now dons the pads for the Wildcats. “He’s going to play running back for us,” Barnwell explained. “He’s very, very fast.”

Royal Palm Beach historically was known to run a triple offense under Bueno, but the Wildcats will now go to a variation wing-T style of offense. Barnwell emphasized the offense models of that when he coached at Hollywood Hills.

Jalen Jones and Ketron Hadley will also complement the Wildcat backfield while seeing time on defense as well. The quarterback spot will likely be occupied by the 6-foot-4 Peyton Mainolfi, who demonstrates a strong throwing arm. “We have been working a lot on the fundamentals,” Barnwell said.

Defensively, the Wildcats are young, but have Greg Prinvil partnering up with Delroy Lewis to lead the linebacking corps. Fundamentals appear to be the focus at the spring camp. Royal Palm Beach is preparing to make some noise at Oxbridge Academy in the spring game.

“It will be a good test because our kids are so young,” Barnwell said.

The spring game will set the tone for what the Wildcats’ focus will be for the fall. Royal Palm Beach sits in the middle of what is arguably the toughest district in Palm Beach County. District 13-7A includes William T. Dwyer, Palm Beach Lakes, Olympic Heights, Forest Hill and West Boca Raton high schools.

The Wildcats traveled to the Oxbridge Academy for the spring game on Thursday, May 17, but results were not available by press time.