The Seminole Ridge High School football team hosted Wellington High School on Friday, Nov. 1 for the regular season finale, defeating the Wolverines 10-0. The Hawks capped their regular season with a record of 6-3 and clenched a postseason berth.
Despite the Wolverines ending the season 3-7 for the first time since head coach Tom Abel took over the program eight years ago, he returned to take the field for the last game after serving a three-game suspension handed down earlier in the season by the Florida High School Athletic Association.
The suspension was initially for five games, but Abel won an appeal for a reduction in the suspension and continues to dispute the disciplinary action to have it removed from his record.
“It’s good to be back,” Abel said. “I had a video camera there, videotaping everything we did. The players played well. Defensively we were there, but we just couldn’t convert and do things on offense.”
The offensive units for both squads went three-and-out on their first possessions of a very physical game that was dominated by defense. The Hawks did just enough on offense to get the points needed for the win. Defensively, Seminole Ridge stole the show, shutting out a struggling Wellington offense.
The Hawks were able to keep the Wolverines out of the end zone for the entire game. The closest that Wellington came to closing the margin was a Morgan Suarez 58-yard field goal attempt, which fell a couple yards shy of the crossbar.
Hawks quarterback Shane Goolsby scored the game’s only touchdown off a 10-yard keeper to the outside that capped a six-play, 65-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Seminole Ridge found a rhythm on offense, moving the chains, to get just outside the Wellington red zone in the second quarter, but a strong Wolverine stand stopped the Hawks from adding to their lead. The Hawks had to settle going into the locker room at halftime with the 7-0 lead.
The Wolverines received the opening kickoff of the second half and got a break when Brandyn Butler returned the ball to midfield, nearly breaking away from the pack. But the Wellington offense never really sustained any momentum on the drive and stalled. Seminole Ridge added to the score with a Hayden Gray 36-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 early in the fourth quarter.
Wellington was able to move the ball to midfield, but again faced a fourth down situation and failed to convert to move the chains. The Hawks did a superb job managing the game clock, grinding out just enough yards to maintain possession late in the game to secure the 10-0 victory.
“We knew coming into the game that they struggle on offense, but their defense plays very well,” Seminole Ridge head coach Rick Casko explained. “They’re a little bigger than us and a little faster. They have two fantastic ends, and we had to work within the framework of the defense, so I think our kids did a great job. We didn’t turn over the football, we controlled the football, and I’m proud of our kids. We had to win the game to get a chance to get ourselves in the playoffs.”
The Hawks were able to clench a berth in the Class 7A postseason, earning the seventh seed. They will travel to New Port Richey to take on J.W. Mitchell High School on Friday, Nov. 8.
“We had a fantastic week of practice,” Casko said. “I’m just so proud of our kids.”