Spring football has arrived, and area gridiron enthusiasts await with great anticipation to see what the local high schools have to bring to the turf.
The Wellington High School football team returns a diverse weapon in rising senior Stephen Passeggiata. At six foot, three inches and 230 pounds, he hopes to lead the Wolverines back into the postseason in the fall.
But first, Passeggiata will focus on spring football.
“We want to focus on building chemistry with the new class because we lost some real talent from our senior class,” he explained. “In the fall, we plan on working hard to build a winning team.”
Passeggiata will line up primarily at defensive end for the Wolverines. With his speed, he tallied 15 sacks for the Wellington defense last season. He helped lead the Wolverines into the regional quarterfinals, where rival Palm Beach Central High School ended their playoff run.
The Wolverines typically welcome one of the toughest schedules in the county every season, and this fall will not be much different, adding Glades Central, Treasure Coast, Palm Beach Central and district newcomer Forest Hill. “We will take every game week-by-week,” Passeggiata said. “It will help us get ready for the more competitive teams we will see in the playoffs.”
Passeggiata has several Division I colleges interested after last season’s performance. He made first team all-county, all-conference and received invites for the Army All-American and Under Armour combines. Passeggiata currently has interest from Florida Atlantic University, the University of South Florida, the University of Pittsburgh, Southern Miss, Liberty University and Stanford.
Longtime Wellington head coach Tom Abel feels blessed to have Passeggiata on the Wolverine squad. “He played a big leadership role for us last season,” Abel said. “He outworks people. Everybody sees it, and he always does what is asked of him. It’s refreshing and a pleasure to watch.”
Abel speaks highly of Passeggiata’s work ethic. He has spent much of the off-season training to improve his pass rush. “He comes in number-one in every camp he attends. He’ll be our inspirational guy on the field,” Abel said. “We’ll test him out at outside linebacker and put him in where he can make some plays for us.”
Passeggiata also prides himself in the classroom, to parallel his determination on the field. He maintains over a 3.0 GPA and attends high academic classes. The Wolverine program has an established culture of equal commitment between the field and the classroom.
Passeggiata and the Wolverines have both spring football and the summer to work on their team chemistry for the fall. “We have all of spring and summer to build up the chemistry,” he said. “I think by the summer, we will have the momentum to take us into the season and win some games.”
Spring football started Monday, April 22, and Wellington will host Fort Pierce Westwood for their spring game on Friday, May 17 at 6 p.m.