Wolverines Hope Spring Football Leads To Fall Success

Wolverine head coach Tom Abel talks to the team after practice.

Spring football is underway at high schools throughout Palm Beach County, and Wellington High School is preparing for a successful fall campaign with the aim of getting back into postseason contention.

Last season, Wellington finished 5-4 overall and missed the postseason for the first time in four years. With a new FHSAA point system in place, the Wolverines hope to win the district and recapture the crown.

“It’s on us. We didn’t qualify for the state playoffs,” said Wellington head coach Tom Abel, now in his seventh year. “The bottom line is we just have to win the district. If we win the district championship, we’re automatically in.”

The Wolverines are losing 18 seniors to graduation but have several returning starters on both sides of the ball that look to make an impact this spring.

Sophomore quarterback Austin Wallace returns to lead the offense. Wallace backed up senior Connor Rogers last season and was thrown in as the starter after Rogers sustained a season-ending shoulder injury against Vero Beach early in the season.

“I think I would have had the same confidence coming in this year because I gained a lot of experience from that,” Wallace said. “If Connor didn’t go down, I think he would have mentored me.”

Mark-Antony Richards will enter his senior year returning as a two-way player, lining up at receiver and running back. He will be heavily relied upon by the Wolverine offense. Richards will also anchor the defensive secondary at safety.

“I try to make every year my breakout year,” Richards explained. “I hope my senior year is my biggest year, but I have a lot of great guys around me who are going to help, and this year we’re trying to take it to the next level.”

Anchoring the offensive line for the Wolverines will be center Michael Palmateer. At 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds, he has had the starting role for the last two seasons, and will likely be one of the most recognized centers in the county. “We’ve been working out with all the lineman in the weight room,” he said. “We’ve been seeing great progress.”

The Wellington special teams squad has a nationally ranked weapon in kicker Morgan Suarez. The soccer player joined the team and has shown incredible progress. “He has only been kicking since late September,” Abel said. “We’re going to lean heavily on him. He can do great things, and when we get past the 50, he’s a deadly weapon to have.”

Other returning players on offense are receivers Balitan Celestin, Adrain Hector and Dane Stratton. Jadien Durant returns at the running back position and will likely play linebacker on defense. Elijah Dorvilus and Julian Odums return to occupy the trenches. Odums is a junior and comes in at 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds. He will be busy on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, the Wolverines have junior defensive end Stephen Passegiatta. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, his speed on the outside will be key for the Wellington defense.

The Wolverines will continue to rely on their spread-style offense and throw the ball as much as they can, with the hopes of using the ground game to keep opposing defenses off balance.

The team will travel to Fort Pierce to take on Fort Pierce Central for their spring game on Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m.