High school football season has come to an end and The Post’s report card is in for 2021.
Which Palm Beach County teams studied enough to pass the battle tests of the season?
Let’s start with a look at the ‘top of the class’ – the last set of power-ranked teams.
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Top of the Class
10. Cardinal Newman (9-4)
The Crusaders appear to be in a new era with the arrival of coach Jack Daniels and highly-touted freshman prospect Davi Belfort at quarterback.
For the first time in eight years, Newman advanced out of the first-round of playoffs, ultimately falling to Chaminade Madonna in a 48-0 shutout.
9. Atlantic (5-6)
The Eagles’ record doesn’t speak for their hard-fought efforts in losses, averaging a difference of nine points before a 43-7 defeat from St. Thomas Aquinas.
8. Boca Raton (8-3)
The strength of schedule wasn’t there for the Bobcats and it showed when they were blanked 40-0 by Deerfield Beach in a district-deciding matchup.
Although the Bucks would go on to defeat Boca again in the first-round of playoffs, the Bobcats only trailed by two scores without starting quarterback Jacob Cashion.
7. Glades Central (6-6)
After fighting tooth and nail to the second round of Class 4A playoffs, Glades Central’s greatest enemy proved to be itself.
After starting the first half of the season without QB1 Garrison Kepley and then-head coach Rashad Jackson, the Raiders were playing catch-up so much that they never reached their potential.
6. Seminole Ridge (8-3)
The Chiefs were exposed when they took their greatest loss of the season, 41-7, to Melbourne in a first-round playoff exit.
Seminole Ridge found itself in fourth quarter thriller situations time and time again, tending to secure the win and save its record thanks to senior kicker Hayden Gray.
5. Wellington (7-4)
The Wolverines adjusted well to the new culture brought about by first-year head coach Danny Mendoza, improving to a winning record after going 3-5 in 2020 and 3-7 in 2019.
4. Palm Beach Gardens (6-5)
At their best, the Gators could go toe-to-toe with the county’s best, including wins over Atlantic and Pahokee, the latter’s only regular-season loss.
At their worst, Palm Beach Gardens struggled in averaging less than 7 points per game in losses to Park Vista, Dwyer and Glades Central. The Gators exited the state playoffs in the first round with a loss to top-seed Treasure Coast.
3. Benjamin (8-4)
The young Bucs showed their age after fumbling a 21-3 lead at the end of the third quarter at Lakeland Christian.
However, Benjamin’s loaded roster featuring the likes of sophomores Tyler Aronson and Chauncey Bowens gained valuable field experience in what will likely be another deep playoff run next season.
2. Pahokee (9-2)
The Blue Devils only downfall is their size – likely the reason they fell 51-12 to a massive Hawthorne.
Still, Pahokee has room to grow in height and on the field considering the bulk of its roster consists of juniors and underclassmen.
1. Palm Beach Central (10-1)
The last Palm Beach County team standing in 8A was the Broncos.
Offensive weapons like Ahmad Haston and Javorian Wimberly announced their arrival with explosive chemistry, giving Central a taste of what it can expect when the duo returns as seniors in 2022.
Forest Hill (6-3)
In recent years, the Falcons have posted winning records – generally against relatively weak opponents – but this season Forest Hill won its first district championship in decades to automatically qualify for postseason play.
Glades Day (9-2)
The Gators were impressive in posting their first winning record since 2018.
Glades Day’s only losses included a one-point deficit to King’s Academy and a 35-7 playoff appearance against 2A defending state champs Champagnat Catholic.
Jupiter Christian (7-2)
Coach Baz Alfred seems to be the difference in the Eagles’ growth over the last few years, improving from 1-9 in 2019, 3-4 in 2020, and 7-2 this season.
We’ll see if Jupiter Christian averages 44.5 points on offense next season with the exit of senior top scorers Brian LaFrance and Jamarr Fleuridor.
‘A’ for effort
American Heritage – Delray Beach (5-5)
The record might be lackluster, but the fairly-young Stallions played competition that’s sure to groom them to post their first winning season since 2018 next year.
Boynton Beach (7-4)
American Heritage-Plantation was the toughest team on Boynton’s regular season schedule – and it showed after the matchup ended in a 56-0 shutout.
Just one battle test proved insufficient in preparing the Tigers for the postseason when the Patriots defeated them again, 42-14.
The Panthers’ offense struggled to light up the scoreboard, averaging just thirteen points per game for the entire season
Dwyer’s defense proved consistent with a series of low-scoring games, but something changed when the Panthers started a five-game losing streak with two consecutive one-point losses to Boca Raton and Glades Central.
Inlet Grove (3-7)
To post a single win – let alone three – with a team full of athletes with little to no football experience is impressive considering the team was assembled when the Hurricanes announced the revival of the program last spring. Kudos to Inlet Grove.
When the Wing-T works, it works well. When it doesn’t, fire and chaos ensue. After finishing 5-1 last season, Jupiter will look to return to those standards next season.
King’s Academy (6-4)
It could be argued that the Lions’ weak schedule left them lacking ahead of playoffs as St. Andrew’s took the sixth seed of Region 4-3A even though King’s beat the Scots 20-0 in the regular season.
Park Vista (7-2)
Between their record and the dominance of their wins, you can’t deny the Cobras on paper.
However, five of those seven wins are over teams with severe losing records — Suncoast, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Santaluces, and Leonard.
St. Andrew’s (6-5)
The 2021 season showed potential for the Scots, especially in the run game.
Juniors Bill Young and Jack Di Donna will return in hopes of having another season where the duo can combine for nearly 2,000 yards.
Room for Improvement
Berean Christian (0-8)
Boca Raton Christian (3-5)
John I. Leonard (1-9)
Lake Worth (2-7)
Olympic Heights (4-5)
Palm Beach Lakes (2-8)
Royal Palm Beach (1-9)
Somerset Academy – Canyons (4-5)
Spanish River (2-7)
St. John Paul II (0-8)