Dream Season Ends For Broncos With A Regional Finals Loss

Palm Beach Central coach Scottie Littles shares ideas with his offense. Photo by Morgan Waters

After an undefeated regular season, the Palm Beach Central High School varsity football team continued its dream season deep into the playoffs before a heartbreaking loss in the regional finals.

On Friday, Nov. 19, the Broncos hosted Vero Beach High School in the Class 8A regional semifinal. It was a clash of two talented teams. The Broncos were undefeated with a perfect 9-0 record, and the Indians had an impressive 7-2 record. The winner would advance in the playoffs, and the loser’s season would come to an abrupt end. After 60 minutes of play, Palm Beach Central head coach Scottie Littles and his brigade of Broncos lived to play another day, taking a 28-21 victory.

The following week, on Friday, Nov. 26, the Broncos played in the biggest game of the season when they hosted the Pirates from Treasure Coast High School in the Class 8A regional final.

It was easily the most high-profile high school football game of the season in Palm Beach County. The winner would advance to the state semifinals. To say that it was a big game is an understatement. For the Broncos, it was easily the biggest game in the history of the school’s football program — and this year’s team was the best in school history.

Going into the game, the Broncos sported a perfect 10-0 record and were ranked as the No. 1 seed in Class 8A, Region 2. Treasure Coast also entered the game riding a wave of winning momentum with a 9-1 record. Going into the game, MaxPreps had the Broncos ranked as the eighth-best team in Class 8A, while Treasure Coast was a few notches higher as the fifth-best team. Just like the previous week, the winner would advance in the playoffs, and the loser’s season would come to an abrupt end.

For the Broncos, it was not their night. The team trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, and the score remained unchanged at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Treasure Coast had increased its lead to 28-0. The Pirates added six more points in the fourth quarter to make it 34-0 by the game’s end.

With the loss, Palm Beach Central concluded its season with a 10-1 record. On the field, the Broncos struggled to contain Pirates running back Eden James, the son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James. James scored three touchdowns and accounted for 215 of Treasure Coast’s 336 yards of total offense. The Broncos were held to 162 yards of total offense.

The result was not what Littles and his team were expecting.

“Palm Beach Central had never played in this type of game,” Littles said. “They were tougher than us in the game, and we have to get stronger and tougher. That starts when we hit the weight room on the first day back to school after the Christmas break. We now know what it looks and feels like to play in that type of game — and the commitment it takes to win.”

While Palm Beach Central’s season ended in a disappointing way, the team is worthy of recognition and celebration. Not many teams go undefeated during the regular season. “We had a great year, and we learned a great deal about what it takes to win big games,” Littles said. “We are no longer the new kids on the block here in Palm Beach County. If we want to be a championship-style program, we have to prepare like a championship-style program.”

In their 10 victories, Palm Beach Central’s offense was prolific, averaging 39.4 points per game. The Broncos had six games where they scored more than 40 points. The defense was stingy throughout, giving up an average of 15.4 points per game. There were five games where the defense gave up less than 15 points. Two other season highlights were winning the regular season district title, and on Oct. 29, the Broncos retained the Wellington Cup when they defeated local rival Wellington High School 17-14 in a fiercely contested game.

The key playmakers for the Broncos this season were quarterback Ahmad Haston, running back Markel King, wide receiver Javorian Wimberly, wide receiver Tyler Young and running back Aldorson Estinvil. Of those five playmakers, four of them will return next season, but King’s 1,700 yards of total offense and 20 touchdowns will be tough to replace. Haston was the leading high school passer in Florida this season, throwing for 3,100 yards and 32 touchdowns with just four interceptions.

Looking forward, nine of Palm Beach Central’s starting 11 on offense will return next season. On defense, eight out of the 11 starters will return in 2022.

“There’s a great deal to be excited about, and we return a ton of starters,” said Littles, who just finished his third year as Palm Beach Central’s head coach, where he has compiled a 22-5 record. “We are going to miss our graduating seniors, such as running back Markel King, defensive back Mike Lucien, offensive lineman Donahue Hacker and safety Ka’ron Young.”

In the immediate future, Littles will be looking for big contributions from a number of players on both sides of the ball to help the Broncos continue their winning ways. Some of those future Bronco playmakers who have size, speed, strength and talent include sophomore defensive end Isaac Antoine, sophomore running back Leon Williams, freshman defensive back/wide receiver Tony Williams, freshman defensive back Xavier Albert and junior defensive back/wide receiver Justin Bostic. In addition to proven players, the immediate future for Palm Beach Central looks strong and promising, especially if they can improve their toughness in the offseason.