Palm Beach Central vs. Jupiter High School Football

WELLINGTON – Palm Beach Central must have ended up sweating a bit.

The Broncos, who toppled their first four opponents with little resistance, were locked in a close battle with Jupiter for most of the game on Friday night. The Warriors used a ball control attack to set up two touchdowns in the third quarter, tying the game at 21 and wowing the Broncos crowd.

That’s when Palm Beach Central showed why they were the highest-ranked team in the county, scoring three quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter to claim a 43-21 victory in a District 7- game. 8A.

“The score doesn’t say how the game went,” said Central coach Scottie Littles, whose team improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the district. Jupiter fell to 3-3 and 1-1.

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Here are three takeaways from this fierce match:

1. Broncos pass first test

Littles conceded that the Broncos weren’t really challenged in their first four games, including a 70-0 win over Royal Palm Beach in their previous outing two weeks ago.

“You could say that we are not battle tested,” Littles said. “I’m very proud of our kids, how they came back. This style of play is difficult to manage – Jupiter came in with a great game plan.”

The Broncos had a chance to open the game in the first half, but two lost fumbles and a missed fourth down kept them from building on a 21-7 lead.

“Our mantra is it’s Central versus Central,” Little said. “We fought in the first half.”

Quarterback Ahmad Haston, who threw three touchdown passes, agreed with his coach that the Broncos would benefit from being in a battle.

“These types of games are great for our season,” said Haston. “They can lead you to better things. We’re in a good position right now, but we have a lot of work to do.”

2. Explosiveness beats ball control

Even though the Warriors had an overwhelming advantage in melee play (60-26) and possession time, they couldn’t contain the Broncos’ explosive offense.

Central’s longest of six touchdowns took five games. Two took a play – a 69-yard run by Aldorson Estinvil and an 80-yard pass from Haston to Javorion Wimberly. Estinvil added a 50-yard TD with 35.6 seconds left, capping a 96-yard two-game drive.

Haston’s other scoring passes covered 30 yards for Aidan Whitehall and 31 yards for Markel King.

“We’re explosive,” Haston said. “I have full confidence in my teammates. We can score from anywhere on the pitch.”

Littles praised his junior quarterback, who threw just 11 passes but finished with 189 yards and all three scores.

“Each rep, he just gets better and better,” Littles said.

3. Jupiter with his head held high

“I couldn’t be prouder of our children,” said Jupiter coach Tim Tharp. “We were there at the end. The score does not reflect the battle we just went through.”

The final score was disappointing. Trailing 36-21, the Warriors rolled inside the Broncos’ 10-yard line. A fourth run was short, with the Broncos taking over at their own 4 with 1:11 remaining.

“If we score there, and then maybe get a kick in the game, who knows?” said Tharp.

Tharp’s strategy to keep his team in the game was simple – give the ball to backers Emonte Brown and Landon Carr, rely on the offensive line to open holes and keep the ball clear of the Broncos as much as possible. The Warriors rushed for 242 yards, led by Brown’s hard-earned 120 yards in 28 carries. Brown and Carr each scored touchdowns.

“We’re a race-focused team and that was the game plan,” said Tharp, whose team only succeeded twice in the game. “When you’re playing explosive teams you want to try and keep the ball out of their hands. We’ve kept them in check, but you can’t give up that many big games.”

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