By: Wells Dusenbury
Seminole Ridge wanted to hit Palm Beach Central in the mouth. Those weren't my words, but instead the words of cornerback Omar Pierre-Louis following their first round win over Park Vista.
The Hawks did just that, delivering a 31-7 knockout punch to the Broncos in the 8A Regional Semifinals, ending Palm Beach Central's season.
Why the animosity between the schools?
The Hawks have always shared a rivalry with the Broncos due to the close proximity of the schools, but things got personal during the beginning of the year.
The teams were supposed to meet up in week one, but after severe flooding in Loxahatchee from Tropical Issac that forced Seminole Ridge to miss an entire week of school and practice, the game was cancelled.
Palm Beach Central insinuated that Ridge was looking for an excuse to back out of the game, something that didn't sit too well with the Hawks.
"This community had a rough time," said Seminole Ridge head coach Matt Dickmann after the win. "We didn't have practice for nine days. We were going through some serious things here."
As the Hawks put the finishing touches on a 31-7 rout of the Broncos, you could see how cathartic the win was for this group and how much they wanted to get revenge on their rivals.
One Seminole Ridge player joyously shouted to a teammate on the sideline: "Haha! All that [bleep] they were talking this week!"
The Hawks' reserved head coach didn't lash out at Palm Beach Central after the game, but couldn't help himself from issuing one warning.
"When people are down and out, you shouldn't kick them," said Dickmann. "Sometimes be careful what you wish for."
Five other thoughts
-Like Seminole Ridge, Ft. Pierce Central is also moving on to the Regional Finals. On Friday, they'll face a familiar foe: Bradenton-Manatee. The Hurricanes ended the Cobras' season a year ago in the 7A Regional Finals en route to capturing the state championship.
Just like last year, Central will face another powerful Manatee team. This year's edition seems downright unstoppable. Led by Mississippi State quarterback commit Cord Sanderberg, the Hurricanes are undefeated and are ranked number one in the country by Rivals, Max Preps and the USA Today.
All isn't lost though for Central. Last year, the Cobras gave Manatee their closest playoff game (16-13) and did that on the road. This time, Central gets the Hurricanes at home, so they could very well have a shot against the Bradenton juggernaut.
-Last year, American Heritage was the only area team to win a state championship, capturing the 3A crown. This year though, the Stallions won't be repeating that performance.
Despite a perfect 10-0 regular season, Heritage was eliminated on Friday night by University School 31-17. The Suns gained a measure of revenge after falling to the Stallions last year in the playoffs 31-21.
Just like Manatee, University is a powerhouse of its own, with Rivals ranking the Suns as the 7th best team in the nation.
While there's no shame in falling to a school like University, the loss ends an incredible run for the likes of Greg Bryant, Marcus Davis and the rest of the senior class. Prior to 2012, the Stallions had made the state title game each of the past three seasons, with Heritage bringing home the title twice in that span.
-Another heralded player who saw his high school career come to a close was Kelvin Taylor. Despite rushing for 163 yards and a touchdown, Glades Day fell to Dade Christian 20-16 in the 2A Regional Finals.
Taylor, who will play for the University of Florida next year, leaves Glades Day as one of the most prolific players the state has ever seen. Over his career, Taylor rushed for 11,380 yards (setting the all-time Florida rushing record) and helped lead the Gators to two state championships.
-Vero Beach fans must loathe Tarpon Springs by now. For a second consecutive year, the Fighting Indians were eliminated on the road by Tarpon Springs-East Lake High School.
While most teams only have to travel around an hour in the first two rounds, Vero Beach has had to make the nearly four-hour trek to East Lake in back-to-back seasons.
Last year, the Fighting Indians were knocked off in the first round 40-22, while this year they were eliminated in a 29-7 defeat.
-All season long we were waiting for Dwyer's offense to finally get in rhythm, but unfortunately for Panthers, it never happened. On Friday, they had their worst offensive output of the season, scoring just 3 points in a 6-3 loss to Boyd Anderson.
The main issue for the offensively-struggled Panthers was the lack of a passing game. Despite having three game-breaking receivers in Clint Stephens, Johnnie Dixon and Ezra Saffold, Dwyer could never put together a consistent aerial attack.
While the Panthers had to deal with injuries on the offensive line for much of the year, the quarterback position never got settled. The Panthers had a serious quarterback shuffle in the second half of the year with the team starting three different QB's in the final six games.
Senior Clay Meister, who started the first half of the season, graduates so that leaves junior Rob Nittolo and sophomore Daniel Parr, who started both playoff games, as the two competitors for the job next year.
All three of the previously mentioned receivers return, but if the Panthers want to advance past the Regional Semifinals, they'll need to get more consistent play at the quarterback position.
Return to: High School Hysteria Blog