Posted: 2:28 pm Monday, October 22nd, 2012
By Matt Porter
Now this is a story all about how, Palm Beach County got flipped-turned-upside-down. We’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, we’ll show you a Palm Beach Post football top 10 that’s fair …
First of all, if you don’t know what the above paragraph is in reference to, 1. what? and 2. please educate yourself. Onto the rankings:
1. American Heritage (7-0) Hits the road to Louisiana
2. Fort Pierce Central (6-0) Allowing a touchdown per game
3. Dwyer (6-1) Atlantic loss just what doctor ordered?
4. Royal Palm Beach (5-1) Ready to take control of 13-7A?
5. Palm Beach Central (5-2) O-line, rushing attack unstoppable
6. Seminole Ridge (4-2) Real Ridge rears its head?
7. Palm Beach Gardens (5-2) Still a dangerous playoff team
8. Atlantic (4-2) Must build on Dwyer upset
9. Park Vista (6-1) Dominated Boca, as it should have
10. Glades Day (6-1) State title hopeful in 2A
Also considered: Cardinal Newman, South Fork, John I. Leonard.
There have been shifts here and there in our top 10 all season, but nothing like this week. Then-Atlantic upset then-No. 2 Dwyer, ranked No. 25 in the nation by USA Today and No. 33 by Rivals. After a washed-out start, then-No. 10 Seminole Ridge showed how far it has come by beating then-No. 4 Palm Beach Gardens on the road.
But that was then, this is now. We’re looking at the same squad at the top — American Heritage, which smoked former No. 7 Cardinal Newman to win the District 7-3A title, and now travels out-of-state to powerhouse West Monroe (La.) — and everything else flipped-turned-upside-down. Here’s how we decided it.
Fort Pierce Central couldn’t stay at No. 3 after Dwyer’s loss. The Cobras have been too consistent — they’re allowing 7 points per game and haven’t given up more than 17 points in a game; that came in their Sept. 27 statement win on the road in Vero Beach. With Centennial (1-6), Port St. Lucie (2-5) and Wauchula-Hardee (2-5) left on the schedule, FPC won’t have another statement to make until the playoffs.
Then, there’s Dwyer. It would be too simple to move Atlantic ahead of Dwyer in the rankings after the 28-12 stunner the Eagles pulled off on Thursday. As impressive as Atlantic’s effort was, we believe Dwyer’s loss was more aberration than a real sea change in the county. We still think (and we know Atlantic fans will let us hear about it) that Dwyer would beat Atlantic eight times out of 10; these are the same Eagles that lost to Santaluces and was blanked by Heritage. For that reason, we feel comfortable with them at No. 8. Of course, Atlantic will move up if it beats Royal Palm Beach this week, and Dwyer could move down if it looks anything less than dominant against Lake Worth (1-6).
The new No. 4 is Royal Palm Beach, a team that beat Lake Worth with its defense in a 23-8 win, forcing two safeties and scoring a pick-six. Though Lake Worth’s defense is capable, we’d like to see more offense from the Wildcats. They fumbled four times, losing two, and averaged 3.85 yards per carry. They’ll need to clean that up this week against an Atlantic team that can get tremendous pressure from its defense and spring big plays on offense and in the return game.
A team with the opposite persona is Palm Beach Central, which has a run game that’s become the envy of everyone in the county. The Broncos rushed for 364 yards against always-feisty John I. Leonard, winning the District 10-8A title. However, the final score (35-25) was in doubt until the final minutes thanks to Leonard QB Adam Johnson, who never quits. That is said of Boca Raton, which hosts the Broncos this week. Central needs to prove it can get stops.
Seminole Ridge, which jumps four spots into No. 6, seems to be putting it together. Ridge looked good in a 31-21 win over Palm Beach Gardens, going up 24-8 at the start of the third quarter before a holding off a spirited home-team comeback. The Hawks’ running game is clicking with senior Silas Spearman leading the way.
No. 7 Gardens is too good to slip too far. Whatever issues the Gators had against Ridge, they’ll need to solve this week against Park Vista before a must-win, should-win district game against Wellington next week. For their part, the No. 9 Cobras rebounded from a puzzling five-touchdown loss to Palm Beach Central with an 42-0 dismantling of Boca. The biggest game of Vista’s season is next week against Leonard, which will decide the final playoff spot in 10-8A.
No. 10 Glades Day got a week to rest after Miami-Archbishop Carroll forfeited, citing safety concerns after a rash of injuries. All that meant was one less game for Kelvin Taylor to chase the national rushing record; with two regular-season games and at least one playoff game left in his high school career, Taylor has the nation’s sixth-most rushing yards.
Despite a sparkling record, Cardinal Newman (7-1) dropped out of the top 10. A 49-0 loss to Heritage showed the Crusaders’ lack of depth behind its key playmakers, but this isn’t really a slam on them — someone had to go to make room for Atlantic. There are two other teams in the conversation: John I. Leonard (4-4), which is the best large-school team not in the rankings, and South Fork (7-0), which hasn’t lost but lacks a truly impressive win.
Thoughts? Arguments? Just glad we put the Fresh Prince of Bel Air back on your radar (if for some reason it fell off)?