Posted: 11:32 pm Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Five fast thoughts on Royal Palm Beach’s 17-7 win over West Boca Raton 

By Matt Porter

Some quick hits from a game that was over very quick (about 9:45 and we were out of there … that’s always welcome, folks):

Click here to read the game story


Bulls penned:
I said before the game that I wasn’t sure about Royal Palm Beach’s defense. Call me pretty sure after this. They held West Boca to 109 yards on the ground (101 of those being from Eugene Bethea’s 14 carries), and seemed ready for whatever the Bulls threw at them. They have Lake Worth next week, which has what the Bulls don’t – a passing game, and a stellar one at that. Going to be interesting to see how Royal Palm’s secondary, which isn’t huge, matches up against Lake Worth’s big receivers, Jermer Braswell and Bernard Davis. Lake Worth runs the ball well, too. After that is Atlantic, then Dwyer, then Seminole Ridge, big-boy offenses all.

But that run begins next week. For now, credit the ‘Cats for making plays – two field goal blocks and a fumble recovery by sophomore Jimmy Moreland, and two sacks by senior Teddy Matthews, one of which led to the fumble Moreland recovered. Aside from Bethea’s 60-yard scamper near the end of the first half (on which they missed a few tackles), the ‘Cats didn’t allow a play longer than 20 yards. Solid ‘A’ grade for this one.

Mane man. He isn’t big – as I wrote about last week – but Tremane McCullough can run all night. He put up 195 yards on 37 carries – he said his previous high was 25 – and broke a 48-yard touchdown run.

The Bulls’ defense hits hard, and McCullough got back up every time. Bulls linebacker Jawand Blue, a Virginia Tech commit, popped him a few times. He got up. He was ripped down for a six-yard loss by West Boca outside linebacker Jimmy Masson, stalling a drive. He broke a 25-yard run on the next drive. He goes down when he’s hit – he’s listed at 160 pounds, and that is likely generous – but the kid is gone if he gets a bit of space. I’m not a college recruiter, nor do I play one on this blog, but it seems his future is as a slot receiver or cornerback at the next level. Make no mistake, though. He can play. Side note: he’s 1 rushing yard shy of 1,000 for his senior season.

Honor the diversity.
Royal Palm’s offense isn’t all McCullough. Junior QB Ant McGrew is a threat to run. He had 8 carries for 25 yards, and could certainly broken more if he wasn’t finding different ways to hand off to McCullough. McGrew, though, puts a little zip on it. He has a very nice weapon in junior Jo-Jo Williams, who stands between 6-1 and 6-2 and 175 pounds. Nice hands. He caught six passes for 60 yards, showing some good after-the-catch spins and jukes. They should be one of the better passing-game combos in the area next season. Freshman tailback Demarcus Holloway had two touches, but is solidly built and looks capable. The offense looks like it can compete with the best in the area.

What now for the Bulls? Playing for pride. It’s too early for postmortems, but at 1-6 and 1-3 in the district, a playoff berth is a long shot. The Bulls were hurt by the early loss of Blue (suspension) and haven’t been able to score enough (24 points in their last 4 games). They are a better team than their record indicates, though. I mean, look at the schedule. It’s brutal. They fell short to a never-say-die Boca Raton squad in Week 1, then lost to No. 7 Palm Beach Gardens. They got their only win against district opponent Lake Worth, then lost to Vero Beach, which would be ranked in the top half of our top 10 if they were in our coverage area (that’s another story). Then, losses to Dwyer (Week 5) and Atlantic (Week 6). Now this.

They get a bit of a break in their next two games, playing sub-.500 Spanish River and Santaluces. But at the end of the season, there’s No. 6 Park Vista, which is undefeated as I write this. Too early for postmortems, but this will be included in their epitaph: It wasn’t easy for the 2011 Bulls.

Bueno job. Coach Willie Bueno wins wherever he goes. State champion at Glades Central. State champion at American Heritage. Here he is, 5-1 in his first year at Royal Palm, which aside from a few random bursts, has been down for years.

In this era of free agency, the key is keeping talent. He’s the type of coach that keeps kids home. After a dismal 1-9 year last year, several Royal Palm players told me they would have transferred out if Bueno didn’t impress them. Who knows if he will win a state title – American Heritage, a private school, can pull kids from anywhere, and the talent pool in the Glades is much heralded. If he wins at Royal Palm, he has to be regarded among the best coaches in county history, or state history. I’ll have to ask the guys that decide these things.

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