Posted: 12:57 pm Monday, May 24th, 2010

Spring Football Tour (video): Royal Palm Beach looks to rebound 

By Jason Lieser

Note: Welcome to the PBGametime 2010 Spring Football Tour! During our two-week tour, we visit area teams, meet some of the top players and answer the most pressing questions. Today’s stop is Royal Palm Beach, where the Wildcats want to forget 2009 and get back on track.

Click below to see the video, and click here for more Spring Football Tour stops.

Making the playoffs did not make 2009 a good season for Royal Palm Beach. The Wildcats went 4-7 after a terrific 11-2 record the year before. By virtue of district wins over Lake Worth and John I. Leonard in 12-5A, the Wildcats sneaked into the post-season and lost their first-round game to Palm Bay-Bayside.

A lot changed in the off-season. Coach Frank Kunf reconstructed his staff. One of his main moves was bringing in former Palm Beach Lakes head coach Dan Sanso as defensive coordinator.

Due to graduation, the Wildcats expect to start nine seniors this fall, but Kunf said this is not a rebuilding project.

“We’ll be legitimate,” he said. “We’re not that inexperienced and that talentless that we’re going to try to rebuild. We’re going to come after people and we have enough kids to do that.”

The Wildcats have a competitive quarterback battle between junior Brock Bukowski (6-0, 165) and sophomore T.J. Abrams (5-10, 155). Both players took snaps in Royal Palm Beach’s spring game Friday, a 24-7 loss to Wellington. Abrams hit WR Tremaine McCullough for a 10-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for Royal Palm Beach’s only score.

Kunf said he is not in a rush to decide which player will start this fall.

“We’re going to let them play it out,” he said. “That’s one of the big things we’re evaluating. I don’t know who’s going to emerge as the No. 1 guy.

“We’re going to let that evolve throughout the whole summer. It may not even emerge until right before the games.”

Experience and logistics seem to be in Bukowski’s favor, though Kunf said those are non-factors.

He was the Wildcats’ back-up quarterback and is unlikely to transition to another position. Abrams, meanwhile, could play several skill positions if needed.

No matter who the quarterback is, he should not expect to use his arm much. Royal Palm Beach attempted more than 22 passes per game last season and Kunf promised that number will drop this year.

“I’m going to try to use the clock more appropriately and keep the ball on the ground,” he said. “We’re not going to be a passing team.”

Depth chart: O-line looks good; D-line has holes to fill. The Wildcats have three key returning seniors on the offensive line: LT Chris Szehner (6-7, 380), G Brett Coleman and C Nick Reid.

Szehner, a two-year starter who can also play defensive tackle, has had a great off-season and Kunf believes he will receive scholarship offers this summer.

“He possibly could be the biggest player in Florida right now,” Kunf said. “He was religion in the weight room. He was lifting and running and really improved his feet.”

On the defensive line, Kunf said he needs five starters and only has one penciled in at this point. Seven others are fighting for the remaining spots.

The legend of Van Davis continues. Davis, a defense end, has basically been a myth at Royal Palm Beach. Anybody who stops by the Wildcats’ practices immediately takes note of his 6-5, 275 frame, but no one has seen him play. Kunf said he has never been eligible for football at Royal Palm Beach.

Davis will be a senior this fall, so this is his last shot. If he can play, he would be a major addition to a defensive line that needs it. Kunf said he is unsure if Davis will suit up.

“It’s hard to say,” Kunf said. “Right now he’s on the bubble.

“He’s raw talent. He has a lot of natural athletic ability. He’s explosive and strong.”