The Wellington High School football team earned enough points last season to make a run into the post-season, and the squad looks to continue with the same momentum through spring football.
Although the Wolverines averaged 22 points a game on offense last season, they will have to find ways to do it without Mark Antony Richards, who committed to Auburn University.
This also marks the Wolverines’ first season in eight years without a Richards brother dressing for Wellington. Former University of Miami standout receiver Ahmmon Richards was the first of the two brothers to suit up as a Wolverine.
“It’s different, now. We could always get the ball in their hands, and they would always make something happen. Now we have a plethora of guys everywhere, and we have to just be little more creative, which we are,” long-time head coach Tom Abel explained. “The kids have bought into the system, and they have to understand that if the ball comes to them, they have to be a playmaker and do some wonderful things.”
Lenori Williams will occupy the running back spot for Wellington’s offense. Williams saw limited play time behind Richards last season, but the 6-foot-2, 225-pound power back will be the workhorse behind the line.
Rising sophomore quarterback Blake Kendall saw plenty of action as a freshman last season, and he possesses all the attributes to become a deadly threat to opposing secondaries. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has a strong and accurate arm and can throw on the move when necessary.
“He is going to develop into the guy we hope he can be,” Abel said. “We’ve had a great line of successful quarterbacks come through here, and we’re hoping that he’s the next one.”
Matt Shannon, a rising junior, will also compete for the quarterback job. “Matt’s got all the tools, and there will be some good, healthy competition,” Abel added.
The Wolverines still retain most of their receiving corps with Adrian Hector, Finlay Toussaint and Tristan Abinet returning. All three are big targets at over 6 feet and have good speed.
On defense, defensive end Stephen Passeggiata will anchor the squad. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, he has great speed on the outside and will look to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Joshua Schwartz and Mike Cotter will complement the defense at the linebacker position. The Wolverines were hit hard in the secondary with graduation and look for some players to step up and fill those roles.
The trenches were also hit hard by graduation, but the Wolverines have a young but rather large cadre of lineman averaging 285 pounds.
“We just reloaded. This year we’re doing what we have to do, so they can understand every situation and be able to handle it,” Abel said. “They’re young, so we can mold them into some great guys.”
Morgan Suarez returns to the Wellington kicking game. A Lou Groza finalist last year as a junior, he is a deadly weapon inside the 40-yard line, according to Abel. Suarez will likely be touted as one of the best kickers in the county next season.
Wellington will host Fort Pierce Westwood on Friday, May 17 for the spring game. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.