The Palm Beach Central High School varsity football team made school history on Friday, Nov. 16 by shutting out Davie’s Western High School. The 38-0 win propelled the Broncos to their first ever regional finals. It also avenges last year’s regional semifinal loss.
“I’m proud of them, but as a team, we know our goals aren’t accomplished until we go to Orlando,” Bronco coach Tino Ierulli said. “This game is over and done with. We celebrate, and when the clock strikes midnight, we’re focused on whoever we’re playing next week.”
The Broncos (11-1) will travel Friday, Nov. 23 to Deerfield Beach High School (11-1) and take on the number one seed Bucks. The Bucks defeated Plantation High School 23-0 to set up the 8A regional final matchup.
Palm Beach Central put together a four-quarter performance on both sides of the ball against the Western High School Wildcats. The Broncos scored on every offensive possession, collected six sacks, an interception and two fumble recoveries on defense.
The Broncos are also riding an 11-game win streak and are unbeaten at home. In the wake of this season, the Palm Beach Central defense has recorded 58 sacks. Since a season-opening loss to Atlantic High School, the Broncos have averaged nearly 40 points a game and have given up less than six.
Ierulli attributes the team’s success this season to their work ethic in practice. “After the Atlantic game, they learned a lot. They have dialed in at practice and play for each other,” he explained. “I think this was the best game they’ve played.”
The Broncos intercepted a Western pass on their first possession of the game. Cornerback Jesus Santiago dove for the ball to stop the Wildcat drive. The turnover gave the Bronco offense just half the field to work. A 40-yard pass from quarterback Michael Moreland to Gen’taris Oliver set up the first touchdown, a four-yard run by C.J. Stewart to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead. Moreland threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for one on the night. Da’Quan Hamilton was the next Bronco to notch a score. He powered in from five yards out to lift Palm Beach Central to 14-0 closing out the first quarter.
Moreland connected with receiver Bryan Robinson on a 38-yard touchdown pass to expand the Bronco lead to 21-0. Palm Beach Central closed out the first half when Moreland ran it in on a keeper to the outside from seven yards out to make the score 28-0. The play was set up by Robinson leaping up to reel in a 37-yard rocket thrown by Moreland. The Bronco defense limited the Western offense to just three first downs in the first half.
Palm Beach Central added to the lead on their first possession of the second half when Moreland hooked up with Akeem Dent on a 45-yard pass to make the score 35-0. Western reached Palm Beach Central real estate for the first time on their ensuing possession, moving inside the five-yard line, but a fumble nullified their chances of getting on the scoreboard. Jordan Kolnick scooped up the ball and returned it to the Bronco 37-yard line, nearly breaking away for a touchdown.
Kicker Tanner Nairn rounded out the scoring on the night with a 38-yard field goal to lift the Broncos to 38-0, which sealed the shutout with a running clock.
The Broncos played a near-perfect game in the regional semifinal rematch. Moreland finished 8 of 12, for 191 yards through the air and two touchdowns, and rushed for one score.
“It feels amazing, but after what happened last year, we wanted revenge,” Moreland said. “We’re going to celebrate tonight, but tomorrow, we’re on Deerfield.”
Robinson totaled four receptions for 83 yards and a score. Hamilton had seven carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. The defense was led by Conroy Cunningham with 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Tedrick Patterson recorded nine tackles and three sacks.
On Friday, Nov. 23, the Broncos will travel to take on the number-one seed Deerfield Beach High School Bucks in their first-ever regional final. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.