It has been becoming clear that the flag football squad from Royal Palm Beach High School is looking to challenge rival and perennial powerhouse Seminole Ridge High School for local bragging rights on the gridiron.
Based on results in the last two years, Wildcats flag football head coach Harold “Hal” Camp is optimistic that this spring will be the most pivotal season in the history of the school’s flag football program.
“In 2019, we knocked Seminole Ridge out of the playoffs and finished as the district runner-up,” Camp recalled, now in his second year as the head coach but his 15th year with the RPBHS flag football program. “We had a strong group of sophomores that year, and now they are seniors. As a program, we are beginning to turn the corner. We’ve got all the pieces in place to win this year. And we have great team speed, which helps.”
With a group of 15 players, Camp and his assistant Andrew Joseph have depth at all the key positions, but he’s going to rely on four seniors to lead the way.
Jenna Springthorpe is one of the most steady and consistent players on the Wildcats’ roster. She plays as a receiver on offense and as a safety on defense.
“Jenna is an outstanding route runner. She’s fast, and she has a great work ethic,” Camp said. “She’s smart and is an outstanding student-athlete.”
The quarterback for the Wildcats is Karleigh Farrell. This is her third year as the signal caller for Royal Palm Beach.
“Karleigh is a good pocket passer, and she knows how to distribute the ball to all the receivers,” Camp said. “She can also throw the ball well while on the run.”
One of the keys to the success for Farrell is that she has had the same center for the last few years. That center is senior Erin McBroom. “Erin’s snaps are incredible,” Camp said. “She’s also a clutch receiver, and she plays linebacker on defense.”
A fourth senior on the team is Kamia Harrell, who plays as a slot receiver on offense and as a linebacker on defense. According to Camp, Harrell uses her basketball skills on the flag football field.
“Just like in basketball, Kamia can see the whole field, which helps her play defense,” Camp said. “She also has great hand-eye coordination and great hands, which helps her as a receiver.”
A fifth senior, Lily Lanier, would normally contribute a great deal to the success of the team as a receiver.
“Lily is the ‘Odell Beckham’ of the team with her many one-handed catches,” Camp added. “But she is out for the season with an ACL injury, so she will be on the sidelines, and she will help coach. She is valuable to the team on the sidelines.”
Lanier will be attending Webber International University where she will pursue a college degree while playing flag football.
While the Wildcats flag football squad has lofty goals and expectations, Camp realizes that the team’s initial goal is to qualify for the Class 2A district playoffs. This puts extra pressure and adds meaning to every regular season game. Unlike sports like volleyball, baseball, basketball, softball and soccer, where all the teams in the local district play in the district tournament, a limited number of teams — just four of them — will qualify for the district flag football playoffs. Besides Royal Palm Beach, this district also includes strong teams such as Seminole Ridge, Wellington and Park Vista high schools.
“I think we have the toughest district in the state,” Camp added. “And only the winner of the district tournament advances into the state playoffs, which commence with the regionals.”
Will Coach Camp’s optimism turn into reality? Only time will tell. The team opens the 2021 season by hosting Palm Beach Gardens High School on Monday, March 1 at 7:15 p.m.