Posted: 1:55 pm Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

A surprising 0-2, Seminole Ridge hopes for a turnaround 

By Jeff Greer

Seminole Ridge entered the preseason fourth in our Area Top 25, owning one of the area’s most talented defenses and a highly respected coaching staff. Now the Hawks are 0-2. What happened?

Silas Spearman and company are hoping for answers Friday night vs. Wellington.

While they won’t admit it publicly, the loss of quarterback Antwan Washington, the starter as a junior who’s now at Glades Central, significantly wounded an otherwise inexperienced offense at Seminole Ridge. Coaches spent the offseason building offensive strategy around Washington, hoping to ease in Silas Spearman alongside Elie Turene as wingbacks in the wing-T offense. Instead, with Washington gone, Ridge has turned the reins to junior Zach DeCosta, who has the tools to become a good signal caller, but isn’t quite there yet.

The offense, as a result, has scored seven points in two games and committed eight turnovers. Dwyer, a team Ridge at least competed with last fall in a 26-14 loss, rolled over the Hawks 39-0 last week. The week before that, Vista beat Ridge for the fourth time in the past four seasons. Now comes 3-0 Wellington in a game that, in August, was a clear win for Ridge. Now it’s not so obvious.

“It doesn’t get easier,” Dickmann said on Wednesday. “Our biggest problem is we have to stop putting our defense in bad situations. I’m still hoping that we’re just going to find that niche that we’ve had in the past. Then the kids start getting on a roll. I think they believe that, too. But the question becomes: When’s it gonna happen?”

It has to happen this week. With Palm Beach Gardens standing tall as the next District 9-8A matchup, on Oct. 19, the game against Wellington is a must-win. All three teams are expected to beat Jupiter, but Ridge has no desire to put its postseason hopes on other teams’ contests. This is the rare time when teams still control their own destiny.

Wellington’s become a defensive force in the early parts of this season. The Wolverines have allowed 20 points in three games and played what Dickmann called sound red-zone defense in a 15-7 upset of John I. Leonard last week. That win put Wellington on the map, and suddenly this week’s game thrusts into the picture an even higher reward for the Wolverines. Win in Loxahatchee, then the next one’s against Jupiter, meaning Wellington could be sitting pretty at 2-0 in the district before playing very-strong-looking Gardens in November.

“We’ve definitely had our fair share of good, tough games against (Wellington) in my time here,” Dickmann said.

But who thought this one would be so pivotal? Certainly not Ridge, which was sideswiped by Tropical Storm Isaac and missed its entire first week of practice. That week’s washout culminated with a canceled game against Palm Beach Central, which would have been a marvelous tune-up for both teams. Instead, Ridge spent the following week regaining football shape and preparing for Park Vista.

Suddenly the Hawks are struggling, lacking consistency on offense and desperately needing to win in only their third contest of the season. Sure, they started 1-2 last fall, but the confidence around that team’s offense was a lot stronger than this year’s, at least on the periphery.

Usually those must-wins don’t come until October. But with the early-season trip-ups, urgency’s found its way to Loxahatchee.

“It’s a big one, no doubt about that,” Dickmann said. “For both of us.”