No. 6 Palm Beach Central 35, John I. Leonard 25: Broncos earn District 10-8A title
Friday, October 19, 2012
by Matt Porter
In August, Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said he wanted to improve on his team's 7-3 record and first-round playoff exit in 2011. It was no secret how his team was going to do it.
The Broncos would use seniors Lloyd Howard and Ray Wilson and junior Tommy McDonald running behind a massive offensive line. On Friday night, that combination lifted No. 6 Palm Beach Central to a 35-25 win over John I. Leonard and the District 10-8A title, a program first.
"This is one of the best days in Palm Beach Central history," Harris said. "We were knocking on the door, and we finally kicked it down in Year 10. We couldn't be happier."
Central (4-2, 2-0) is scheduled for a Nov. 2 district game against Boca Raton (2-5, 0-2) but has wins over Leonard (4-4, 1-1) and Park Vista (5-1, 1-1), which will play Nov. 2 for second place and the district's remaining playoff spot.
When Central hosts its first home playoff game in late November, it will hope for the same results it received Friday.
The Broncos rushed 46 times, all but three plays from scrimmage, and finished with 356 yards on the ground. Howard, a Florida Atlantic commit, led the way with 184 yards and two touchdowns on 15 rambunctious carries. McDonald had 83 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts, and Wilson finished with 77 yards on just six carries.
From the outset, Palm Beach Central's massive line, featuring 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior left tackle Kc McDermott and 315-pound senior right guard Nickedel Pierre, bullied John I.'s smaller defensive front. On the sidelines late in the second quarter, Broncos linemen joked to each other about how many pancake blocks they were piling up. They helped Central finish with 212 rushing yards at halftime.
"They're the best in the county," McDonald said of his line.
Less than two minutes in, Wilson broke free for a 44-yard touchdown. McDonald made it 14-0 by busting 10 yards through a massive hole off the right tackle. Howard, who set up McDonald's score with a 29-yard run, made several bouncing cuts on his way to 25- and 56-yard TD runs to put Central up 28-10 in the third quarter.
John I. Leonard senior quarterback Adam Johnson nearly carried the Lancers to a comeback. Johnson, who was 14-of-34 for 228 yards, threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to junior Kaian Duverger to make it 28-17 at the end of the third. Johnson and fellow senior quarterback Daniel Deshommes connected well with sophomore Tavares Martin, who had 153 yards receiving, including a third-quarter 31-yard touchdown, on 10 catches.
Aside from Johnson's output, the Lancers managed just 24 yards rushing.
In the fourth, Central senior defensive back Zacarius Shepard returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown, but Johnson (12 carries, 158 yards) answered on the next drive. He broke loose for a 91-yard run straight up the middle of the field, punched in a 2-yard touchdown and ran in the two-point conversion to make it 35-25.
The game wasn't over until Wilson intercepted Johnson again with 40 seconds remaining.