The Palm Beach Central High School football team has just finished a stellar and memorable football season.
Fortunately, the Broncos’ 2023 season was highlighted by yet another Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 4M, District 10 title; a number of significant regular season victories; and another deep run in the FHSAA postseason playoffs.
Unfortunately, Palm Beach Central’s season came to an end on Friday, Nov. 24 in Coconut Creek against the Monarch High School Knights in the Class 4M, Region 3 final. The Knights prevailed over the Broncos, 35-13. The Broncos finished the season with a 10-3 record.
In the Monarch game, Palm Beach Central fell behind 13-0 after the first quarter, was losing 21-7 at halftime, trailed 28-7 after three quarters, and concluded the game on the wrong end of a 35-13 final score.
Deep postseason runs are not new to the Bronco football program. For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the Broncos had a deep postseason run. In 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and again this year, they reached the regional final.
Last year’s team won its regional final and advanced to the state semifinal, eventually losing a heartbreaker to Apopka High School, 27-24.
Despite this year’s tough, season-ending loss against Monarch, Palm Beach Central head coach Kevin Thompson was proud of his team’s commitment to excellence throughout the season.
“The entire season was a blessing,” he said. “Over the season, our players bought into the culture that is being taught by our coaching staff. We had big regular season wins against Creekside, the Benjamin School and Pahokee. Those were difficult games that made us better.”
The Broncos also retained the Wellington Cup in their annual battle against crosstown rival Wellington High School.
According to Thompson, there were many players who led by example in practice and during games.
The quarterback position was the biggest question mark at the beginning of the season, as somebody had to replace last year’s star quarterback, Ahmad Haston, who is now playing at the University of Massachusetts. The team’s new quarterback was sophomore Caleb Butler.
“Caleb had a solid year, and he learned a great deal about the position, but he must take care of the football next year,” Thompson said. “This year, he had a number of experienced receivers and running backs who worked together to support him.”
Junior wide receiver Nedrick Boldin understands all aspects of football.
“Nedrick is a complete football player,” Thompson said. “He’s a big help on the team. I’ll take 11 players like him, any day, on my offense.”
Fellow wide receiver Preston Parker is another outstanding player.
“Preston has great hands and is an excellent route runner,” Thompson said.
Two other wide receivers who were frequent passing targets for Butler included a pair of juniors, Kamare Williams and Waden Charles.
“Williams had the most receptions this year for us,” Thompson said. “And Waden is a University of Miami commit.”
Senior running back Leon Williams and junior running back Zequan Wright were solid and dependable this season, especially in big games.
“Those two were our top players in our 34-28 win against Boca Raton in the regional semifinals [on Nov. 17],” Thompson explained.
Defensively, the team’s four starting linebackers were the heart and soul of the defense. All four of them will be returning next year.
“Antoine Sharp, David Harmon, Cameron Dwyer and Xavier Albert played very well as a unit,” Thompson said. “Sharp, Harmon and Dwyer are sophomores, while Albert is a junior.”
On the defensive line, senior Brandon Littles was the team’s top player.
“Brandon was a great tackler,” Thompson said. “He led the team with more than 65 tackles on the season.”
In the defensive secondary, senior cornerback Mikey Gayle and junior cornerback Damon Allen were the two top performers for the Broncos.
Gayle is headed to Cornell next year. Allen led the team with seven interceptions.
As far as the future is concerned, Thompson said his team will hit the weight room in early January, as the squad starts getting stronger for the 2024 season.