On Friday, Aug. 16, the Palm Beach Central High School football team hosted the defending Class 6A state champions Miami Northwestern High School for a kickoff classic, falling to the Bulls 36-6 under a rain-filled sky.
The Broncos are the defending District 9-8A champions and are coming off an 11-2 record with a regional finals appearance last season. The team welcomed the opportunity to host the Maimi-Dade County juggernauts.
“We wanted to play the best. We wanted to see how good we can be,” first-year coach Scott Littles said. “The Bulls are a good team and very athletic, but we have some play makers, and we have to find a way to get them going.”
Littles used the pre-season matchup as inspiring motivation for the players. “We told the kids that at the end of the day, we want to be the best, so playing teams that we would beat does not help us,” he said. “We got punched in the mouth, and now we have an amazing opportunity to respond heading into the regular season.”
The Broncos battled in the first half defensively, yet trailed 16-0 going into the locker room. The team struggled to find a rhythm on offense going against the fast Bulls defense.
Frustration continued at the start of the second half when Miami Northwestern scored on their first possession of the half in just three plays to grab a 22-0 lead. The Broncos found some life on offense, sustaining a 44-yard drive, but could not move the chains farther to threaten the red zone. The Bulls would add two more scores in the final quarter, one on a 43-yard punt return, to extend the lead to 36-0.
The Palm Beach Central special teams took advantage of a bad Bull snap. As the punter fumbled the ball on the saturated turf, the Bronco rushing squad swarmed the punter to give the Broncos possession inside the 10-yard line. Chris Alban tackled the punter, who fumbled the ball, and Tim Downey nearly returned it for a touchdown. The Broncos closed the gap by recording their lone score of the game with a four-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Ahmad Haston.
According to Littles, confidence remains high for the Broncos as they enter the regular season this week.
“Adversity defines a man and a team,” he explained. “I have confidence that our kids will respond, fix what we need to fix and get ready for a really good Atlantic team.”
The Broncos will host Atlantic High School for the regular season opener Friday, Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m.