Posted: 3:56 pm Monday, October 15th, 2012
By Jeff Greer
In the vein of campaign season, we love a good horse-race comeback story. And this week’s is Seminole Ridge, a team that lost its first two games and looked nothing like the state-ranked preseason power with state playoff aspirations we thought it was.
The past three games have Ridge back in the plus column, boasting a 3-2 record ahead of its most important game of the season: a pivotal District 9-8A matchup at Palm Beach Gardens on Friday night. A 21-6 win at John I. Leonard last Friday, preceded by two blowout wins over Wellington and Pahokee, begs the question: Is Seminole Ridge back?
Friday night should help answer that. For now, we put Seminole Ridge back into the Post Top 10 rankings, replacing Atlantic, a team that doesn’t quite have as a win as good as Ridge’s over Leonard.
Here’s the rest of the poll:
1. American Heritage (6-0): Cruising toward Dwyer matchup.
2. Dwyer (6-0): Intriguing game vs. Atlantic on Thursday.
3. Fort Pierce Central (5-0): Cobras’ defense underrated.
4. Palm Beach Gardens (5-1): Big district game vs. Ridge this week.
5. Royal Palm Beach (4-1): Offense showed up vs. West Boca.
6. Palm Beach Central (4-2): Playoff spot on line vs. Leonard.
7. Cardinal Newman (6-0): Travis Rudolph injury hurts Crusaders.
8. Park Vista (5-1): Must show up vs. Boca Raton.
9. Glades Day (5-1): Defense could be a problem later on.
10. Seminole Ridge (3-2): Statement W over Leonard.
Also considered: Atlantic, John I. Leonard, South Fork.
The top four remains the same. If our editors allowed us, we’d have 1a and 1b for our Top 10. We still give the edge to American Heritage because of its impressive win over Seffner-Armwood in September. But Dwyer can put an end to that when the two teams meet on the last Thursday of the regular season. Until then, we consider both teams equal.
Fort Pierce Central got a much-deserved week off after its district-opening win over Viera. Martin County’s up next, a team that’s won four of its past five games. The Cobras will be the favorites in that one, but pay special attention to their defense. It’s underrated, giving up seven points and 182 yards a game. Not too bad, and it’s what’s carrying Central.
Palm Beach Gardens‘ D is, too. The Gators are fourth among large schools in points allowed. They allow 113 rushing yards a game. They held Palm Beach Central, one of the area’s top rushing teams, to 2.9 yards a carry in a 10-6 win in September. That’s a huge stat ahead of the Seminole Ridge game. Ridge’s rushing game accounts for 94 percent of its entire offensive yardage. Keep an eye on defensive end Da’Kwon DePolo, who coach Rob Freeman couldn’t guarantee would return for the Ridge game. His health is huge for the Gators.
We moved Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Central ahead of Cardinal Newman for one reason: Travis Rudolph. The speedy junior receiver for Newman is out at least three weeks with a broken finger. He’s that big of a factor in Newman’s progress this fall. The Crusaders were already underdogs in their District 7-3A showdown with American Heritage, but without Rudolph, their upset hopes really dwindle. He should be healthy and ready to go before playoff time.
The jury’s now deliberating on Park Vista, a team that impressed us with a 5-0 start, but worried us in a 45-7 loss at home to Palm Beach Central. The Cobras are a team that plays steady, churn-it-out football, relying on grinding offensive drives and good defense. If an opponent gets up early, we’re not sure Vista can recover, which is what happened against Central. Of course, the Cobras could very well rebound quickly, though it won’t be easy: Their next three games are vs. Boca, at Palm Beach Gardens and at John I. Leonard.
Glades Day stays at No. 9 in the rankings, though the Gators’ defense (or lack thereof) is cause for concern. Village Academy gave us plenty to think about when it scored 44 on Palm Beach Central in the kickoff classic. And, of course, we think Village could score on a lot of teams. But Glades Day can’t always hope to just outscore everyone. Teams, like Admiral Farragut last fall, do have the capability to stop Kelvin Taylor, even if it’s just slowing him down.
With Seminole Ridge into the rankings, Atlantic jumps out. The Eagles have a few opportunities to join the Top 10 again, starting with an upset bid at Dwyer. South Fork struggled with a Centennial team that we don’t think is all that special, which gives us pause at South Fork’s 6-0 record. The Bulldogs have blown out every other opponent, including a now-frisky, once-weak Martin County team, but the quality of schedule just doesn’t do it. And John I. Leonard is 4-3, but the Lancers have been competitive with some of the best teams in the area, and have a shot to sneak into the playoffs.
Nobody takes better photos than our shooters at the Post, so check out the photo galleries from Thursday’s Glades Day-Village Academy game, and then Friday’s John I. Leonard-Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Gardens-Boca games.