Seminole Ridge High continues football dominance of Palm Beach Central with semifinal win
Friday, November 23, 2012
by Matt Porter
It would be imprecise to say Seminole Ridge haunts Palm Beach Central. That's not quite the right word.
" 'Haunted' means they would have upset us somewhere along the way," Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said. "They've been the better team for many years."
As it relates to the Broncos, Ridge isn't a ghost that spooks. It is a wrecking ball that dismantles. On Friday night, it destroyed Palm Beach Central's season in a dominant 31-7 win in a Class 8A regional semifinal.
Ridge's defense was nearly flawless. It forced two fumbles and recovered one, intercepted a pass, and held the run-first Broncos to 96 yards on the ground (219 yards in total). Most important, standout senior running back Lloyd Howard (8 carries, 41 yards) wasn't a factor.
Aside from missing three tackles on a long screen-pass touchdown by Central's Ray Wilson, there wasn't much for the coaches to dislike.
"We almost played the perfect game," Hawks coach Matt Dickmann said of his defense.
Ridge didn't attempt a pass, but got 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior Silas Spearman, 56 yards and a touchdown from senior Omar Pierre-Louis and 124 yards on 10 carries from junior E.J. Elien.
The Hawks have won eight straight against their western Palm Beach County neighbors since losing their first meeting in 2005. There was plenty of talk after their season-opener was canceled by the school district after Tropical Storm Isaac. Some on Central's side said the Hawks were scared to play and asked for a cancellation, a charge that has had the Hawks burning since August.
"It was an emotional game," Spearman said. "This win wasn't for us. It was for our community. What they said hurt. We didn't talk out there. We did it with our pads."
From the opening kickoff, when Spearman blasted Wilson on a return, Ridge was the more physical team. That hadn't changed by the end, when one of the stars of Ridge's defense, senior defensive tackle Kyle Shortridge, brought down Broncos junior Kevin Bramhall on a quarterback hit.
"In the third quarter, they started saying 'Congratulations' and stuff after plays," senior defensive end Jason Shepherd said. "They knew they lost. We were laying the wood to them the whole game. We earned our respect."
The Hawks scored in every quarter. Senior Omar Pierre-Louis, who caught a game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass in the regional quarterfinals against Park Vista, capped a nine-play, 40-yard drive with a 4-yard burst. In the second, crunching blocks from tackle Antonyo Woods and fullback Alberto Hidalgo freed Spearman to scoot up the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown with 1:38 left in the half.
An 18-yard field goal by Derek Falk put Ridge up 17-0 in the third, before Central finally answered with 10:39 in the fourth. Wilson caught a screen pass at the line, fought off three Hawks, and jetted 61 yards to the end zone.
But an interception deep in Central territory by senior linebacker Rayfield Dixon and a 2-yard run by Spearman made it 24-7. Hidalgo punched in a 4-yard score with 4:08 left.
That was it, but it was long over by then. Now Ridge hosts Weston-Cypress Bay in the 8A regional finals, trying to maintain the momentum gained from a win they've thought about for months.
Seminole Ridge running back Silas Spearman (2) cuts between Palm Beach Central Wilky Orelien (5) and Josh Guterriez (22) on a run in the second quarter a in a class 8A regional semifinal. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)