No. 8 Atlantic handles No. 4 Royal Palm Beach
Monday, October 29, 2012
by Matt Porter
Atlantic's coach prowled the sideline, yelling his head off.
"I told them not to kick to him," Chris Bean screamed into the chilly air. At the other end of the field, his team bounced around like pinballs. Behind them, the stands shook.
That's what Brisly Estime can do.
After Royal Palm Beach scored with 13.3 seconds left in the first half, Estime returned the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The senior's game-changing play reestablished Atlantic's momentum and sent the Wildcats into the locker room hanging their heads.
When it was all over, eighth-ranked Atlantic had a 35-20 win over fourth-ranked Royal Palm. The Eagles (6-2, 4-1), once down themselves after a sloppy start, have won four in a row. They now need only to beat Lake Worth on Friday night to secure the District 13-7A title.
"The beginning of the season, we just had some big-time selfishness going on," Bean said. "Now, they're thinking about the team. They're thinking about one another. They're fighting for one another."
On Friday, Atlantic hosts Lake Worth. Royal Palm (5-2, 5-1) will host Dwyer at 7 p.m. Saturday. If Atlantic beats Lake Worth -- the Eagles are a heavy favorite -- the Royal Palm-Dwyer winner goes to the playoffs as the runner-up.
Senior running back Tevin Spells had a game-high 112 yards on 19 carries. His two first-half touchdowns, of 1 and 33 yards, put Atlantic up 14-3. But Royal Palm senior quarterback Ant McGrew (9-of-21, 83 yards, TD) threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to senior Jake Wehrle with 13.3 remaining in the half.
Estime only needed one play to change the game. Royal Palm coach Willie Bueno didn't want to give him the chance, hoping to kick away from the dynamic senior. But the kick went to Estime at his own 5. He weaved his way inside and out, covering the distance as the clock ran out.
"The kicker slipped. I don't know what it was," Bueno said. "(Estime's) a good player. That's what happens. They're an explosive football team."
That wasn't the only major miscue by Royal Palm. After a fake punt rush went nowhere, Atlantic was in the end zone after a three-play drive that ended in Spells' 33-yard touchdown.
Atlantic quarterback Thomas Owens, who was installed as the starter after Atlantic's Sept. 21 loss to Santaluces, was 5-of-15 for 97 yards and a touchdown, but got loose for a 41-yard touchdown on a third-quarter keeper. That came after a roughing-the-punter call on Royal Palm gave the Eagles new life.
With 6:33 left in the third, senior cornerback De'Andre Simmons bobbled a sure interception on a deep ball. Atlantic junior receiver Adly Enoicy snatched it and was credited with a 49-yard touchdown reception that made it 35-10.
The Wildcats' mistakes mitigated an astounding amount of penalties on Atlantic. The Eagles finished with 182 yards on 20 flags, taking off the board an 80-yard punt return touchdown by Estime and several other plays. Royal Palm had seven for 73 yards.
"Our kids know. Take away three plays in this game and they're right there," Bueno said. "We've got to get ready for Saturday. There's still a heartbeat."