Posted: 3:09 pm Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
By Jeff Greer
Howard Cosell would’ve been proud of us last night: Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast put on an unusual show of Monday night football, and the day’s significance in the area playoff races will not soon be forgotten.
Atlantic backed up its surprising romp of Dwyer with an even more outsized win over Royal Palm Beach, which assured Atlantic of at least a playoff spot in the Class 7A regional tournament and also put the Eagles on the inside track to the District 13-7A title. That follow-up win turns a one-hit wonder into a steady success, and prompted us to move Atlantic all the way to No. 3 in this week’s poll.
Here’s the rest of the list:
1. American Heritage 8-0 – vs. Calvary Christian
2. Fort Pierce Central 7-0 – vs. Port St. Lucie
3. Atlantic 6-2 – vs. Lake Worth
4. Dwyer 7-1 – at Royal Palm Beach
5. Palm Beach Central 5-2 – at Boca Raton
6. Seminole Ridge 4-2 – vs. Jupiter
7. Palm Beach Gardens 5-2 – at Wellington
8. Park Vista 6-1 – at John I. Leonard
9. Royal Palm Beach 5-2 – vs. Dwyer
10. Glades Central 4-4 – at Boynton Beach
Also considered: Cardinal Newman, Glades Day, John I. Leonard, South Fork.
The top two doesn’t surprise anyone — at least it shouldn’t. American Heritage flew to Louisiana and beat national powerhouse West Monroe on its homecoming night. Fort Pierce Central once again blew out a local opponent. Provided Heritage pops Calvary Christian on Friday, the Stallions should be undefeated ahead of their November 8 matchup against Dwyer. Fort Pierce Central, on the other hand, has a clear and much easier route to a perfect regular season, with finale games against Port St. Lucie and 2-6 Hardee.
Wouldn’t you love to see Atlantic take on Fort Pierce Central? Or maybe the Eagles getting another shot at American Heritage? Fort Pierce Central has almost become the mystery team to us that we may never get to compare against a Palm Beach County squad this fall. Bradenton-Manatee is probably the best team in the country, and if Central takes care of business all the way to the regional final, it will most likely have a date with Manatee.
We kept Dwyer in the top five because we believe the Panthers are still one of the top teams. No, the win at Lake Worth doesn’t really provide us with proof that Dwyer is fully recovered from its Atlantic loss, but Saturday will give us a full body of evidence. Dwyer travels to Royal Palm Beach for a win-and-in playoff matchup. As you can see from our rankings, we think Dwyer is the favorite in that game.
Palm Beach Central doesn’t need to push itself too hard these final two weeks. The Broncos and their top-notch running game play at Boca Raton and at Palm Beach Lakes to finish the regular season. They are heavy, heavy favorites in both of those, and should be fully healthy and grooving ahead of what looks like a probable matchup at home against Palm Beach Gardens.
Next we have Seminole Ridge, a team we’ve rewarded for vastly improving after a rocky start. The Hawks still haven’t played a fully dominant game yet, with sloppy wins over Wellington and Pahokee followed up by not-dominant-the-full-way-through Ws over John I. Leonard and Gardens, two very impressive victories even in the face of periods of poor play.
Gardens and Park Vista are right behind their district leaders. For the second season in a row, weather took away the privilege of watching these two go at it. We got some of last year’s matchup in, but ultimately lost it to the rain. This year’s never started. What a shame. But we’ll say this: No one wants to play either of these teams in the playoffs. Class 8A’s regional quarters and semis in Palm Beach County will be brutally tough, and the team that emerges from that four-team bracket will be better for it. But first, Vista has to take care of things against a feisty Leonard team that is more than capable of ruffling some feathers.
And last but not least is our new addition to the rankings. It’s been a long time coming for Glades Central, which started 0-4 against four very good opponents. But in their four consecutive wins, the Raiders have posted two shutouts and forced seven turnovers. Their young defense is better than it was in September, and the offense, which regrouped around quarterback TJ Abrams, is a lot smoother than it was. Ronquavion Tarver, David Bailey, Will Likely, Aaron Baker (when healthy) and Jonathon Istache are all real offensive weapons, and we believe Central would beat each of the “also considered” teams in a head-to-head matchup.
Cardinal Newman, Glades Day, John I. Leonard and South Fork are all right at the door. Newman dropped off from its rout at the hands of Heritage, and faces a daunting playoff challenge in a few weeks. Glades Day is a very good small-school team, but paired against Glades Central, it’d be tough for the Gators to score with the ease they do against smaller opponents. But boy that would be a fun game to watch. Leonard, as we mentioned above, is a legitimate playoff threat, and South Fork, while undefeated, just hasn’t gotten wins against good enough competition to warrant a ranking yet.
With everything switched to Monday, we only had a chance to photograph one football game, but it was a good one: Royal Palm Beach at Atlantic. Check out the photo gallery here.