The Wellington High School football team has high expectations for the upcoming fall campaign after falling short of the playoffs last year for the first time in four years.
The Wolverines finished 6-6 last year and look to improve upon that finish, according to one of Palm Beach County’s longest-tenured coaches, Tom Abel. Wellington also dropped a 36-35 loss to Fort Pierce Central High School in the spring game at the end of the school year.
“We just have to capitalize on what we did right and realize what we did wrong,” Abel explained. “We want them to be better than what they were, not a .500 ball club like they were last year, and get back to where we were — a championship-caliber football team.”
The Wolverines have many returning starters and have extremely high expectations.
“This senior class wants to be one of the best, if not the best, and they’re working to get to that,” Abel said. “There’s a different vibe here.”
Wellington has two returning starters on the offensive line in Elijah Dorvilus and Michael Palmateer, and newcomers will fill the void left from graduation. Offensive tackle Julian Odums returns after a year off from football and looks to be a contributor. The Wolverine line spans 6 foot, 2 inches and averages 285 pounds, a slice smaller than last year’s line, but Abel is confident in their abilities.
Junior quarterback Austin Wallace returns on offense and is complemented by a stellar corps of receivers with highly recruited senior Mark Antony Richards, Dane Stratton, Adrain Hector, Balitan Celestin and Ezekiel Blake. The receivers average 6 foot, 2 inches across and contain all the attributes to reinforce Wellington’s spread-style offense.
Senior Jadien Durant and Richards will line up behind Wallace in the running back spot. Richards will likely be a ball magnet this season. Expect him to play a multitude of positions. Leonori Williams will also add to the Wellington ground game, and at 6 foot, 1 inch, he will be used as a power back.
The Wellington defense will be anchored by several two-way players: Durant at linebacker, and Richards at corner back and safety. Junior Stephen Passeggiata will lead the defensive line on the outside at defensive end. At 6 foot, 3 inches and 225 pounds, he has the quickness to contain everything inside.
Sophomore Robert Sorensen will occupy the opposite end for the defensive line, and at 6 foot, 5 inches and 240 pounds, he will also complement the line, with Dorvilus lining up at tackle. Preston Hayes will also contribute to the line.
The kicking game is something Wellington has traditionally excelled at in recent years as home to two Lou Groza Award winners, Alex Ng and Logan Robinson. Abel believes that junior Morgan Suarez can be a two-time winner.
“We’re hoping Morgan is a two-time Lou Groza winner. We’ve never had a two-time winner,” Abel said. “He can put the ball anywhere, or any place we ask.”
Suarez is a good weapon to have, Abel said. If the offense can get to a certain place on the field, the Wolverines can come away with points. He called Suarez a definite threat for the offense.
Wellington’s main goal, as with many other teams, is to get as far into the post-season as they can, but in Abel’s short-term crosshairs are the Wellington Cup and the district title, both of which district rival Palm Beach Central High School holds. The Broncos took back the cup last year. The two district juggernauts will clash in week four of the regular season on Sept. 14 at Palm Beach Central.