Posted: 11:12 am Thursday, August 8th, 2013
By Jeff Greer
As if Palm Beach County’s Class 8A programs needed any more drama than the usual rivalry games and heated postseason matchups.
Now Palm Beach Central and Palm Beach Gardens have a new beef. Wide receiver Andrew Prince, considered one of the best pass-catching wideouts in the junior class, has left Central and enrolled at Gardens. Prince started practice with Gardens on Monday, several sources said.
Prince (6-2, 175) instantly makes Gardens’ passing attack better, though the Gators already had several nice weapons to start the season. He’ll be a big option to pair with senior speedster AJ Shipman, up-and-comer Mario Brown and chisled tight end Caleb Perez. The Gators’ starting quarterback, JP Caruso, is back for his third year at the helm and has already committed to soon-to-be-FBS program Appalachian State. Caruso threw for 1,046 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior.
For Central, the blow is considerable. The Broncos had high hopes for Prince in what should be a well-balanced offense this fall. Last year’s team, the District 10-8A champs, was so run-heavy that passing plays came only as pace-changers and nothing else. But with the transfer of ex-Lake Worth quarterback Luis Peguero, Central hoped to expand its passing game with Prince and Rudy St. Germain, a senior receiver loaded with potential.
“There wasn’t really an explanation,” said a Central team source. “We found out Monday and confirmed (Wednesday)” that Prince was at Gardens.
The two teams met in the Class 8A regional quarterfinals last fall, producing a doozy of a thriller. Central came from behind and bested Gardens 27-19 in driving rain. Both teams are expected to be even better in 2013, and they’re both paired in increasingly tough districts.
Gardens’ chief in-district rival, Seminole Ridge, is once again packed with defensive talent and expects running back EJ Elien to have a breakout season. Both teams should make the playoffs with Wellington in Year 2 of a rebuild and Jupiter in a constant state of disarray.
Central’s district will be far trickier to navigate. Park Vista has two FBS commitments already and probably more to come, with a speedy defense and potential for a quality rushing attack. John I. Leonard is built around do-it-all junior Tavares Martin and the Lancers’ regular stable of fast receivers. Plus, Boca has a new coach with a winning history and Santaluces is always a pesky team with some talent.