By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Atlantic High School Eagles football will follow-up one of the best seasons in school history, an effort resulting in losing only one game in 2015 with a 12-1 record and a trip deep into the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Regional Playoffs, they will open the upcoming football season at home with a 7 p.m. kick-off classic game against Hialeah Gardens-Mater Academy on Friday, August 19, at Atlantic Community High School, 2455 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. During the 2015 season, the Atlantic Eagles held the state No. 1 ranking and advanced to the state regional playoffs. In the Palm Beach County Sports Commission High School Football Team of the Year Award, Atlantic was the only team nominated to finish a perfect 10 wins and 0 losses on the regular season while amassing 3,683 total yards and averaging 30.7 points per game on offense and limiting opposing teams scoring to an average of 10 points per game while recording 5 shutouts during the season.
Bill Davis, a member of the Lou Groza Awards Committee, announced the Atlantic Eagles as the 2015 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Team of the Year. In the Palm Beach County Sports Commission 2015 Coach of the Year category, Atlantic Eagles head football coach TJ Jackson faced up against a group of elite high school head football and was named Coach of the Year. With all the fanfare after a historic season – can Atlantic keep up this momentum in 2016?
The Atlantic Eagles will be tested in their first game this season at the Wellington High School Wolverines on Friday, August 26, at Wellington Community High School, 2101 Greenview Shoes Blvd. in Wellington. The Eagles and Wolverines played twice last season, with Atlantic taking the season opener 49–7, and winning 34–0 in the first game of the 2015 FHSAA State Playoffs. Both games last season were played at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach. The Eagles will have their hands full with a vastly improved Wellington squad, a team on the rise these past few seasons, still the Eagles prevail, prediction – Atlantic 41 Wellington 14.
The Eagles return home on Friday, September 2, with a matchup against the West Boca Raton Bulls a team they doubled up 44-20 last season. West Boca won’t be Atlantic’s first loss this season and the home cooking will be a big difference in this game as the Atlantic express flight will run all over the field and find the end zone eight times in an Atlantic 56-10 win over West Boca for the Eagles which will be cut short by a running clock. After a September 9, bye week, Atlantic will travel out towards Lake Okeechobee to play on Friday, September 16, against the Glades Central Raiders at Glades Central Community High School, 1001 SW Ave. M in Belle Glade. Last year, Glades Central lost to Atlantic 26-7 but this year the Raiders will shoot holes in the Eagles defense and unfortunately the offense will sputter against an opportunistic defense as Atlantic loses on the road in a Glades Central 38-21 rout.
Atlantic opens the District 10-8A season on Friday, September 23, at the Park Vista Cobras just north on Jog Road at Park Vista Community High School, 7900 Jog Road in Lake Worth. The Eagles win this one late 35 – 28. The next week the Eagles land at the the Spanish River Sharks on Friday, September 30, at Spanish River Community High School, 5100 Jog Road in Boca Raton and rock-around-the-clock as everything seems to go well off of Yamato Road in an Atlantic 63-0 blowout of the Sharks. Things don’t get much tougher on Friday, October 7, against the Santaluces Chiefs in Delray Beach as the Eagles enjoy the first crisp night of the Fall and Atlantic’s high-octane engine of an offense revs all night long in a 47-12 shellacking of the Chiefs. Déjà-vu on Friday, October 14, Atlantic at its home track for the second of a back-to-back home stand, rolls over the John I. Leonard Lancers 54 – 14. The Eagles continue their Oktoberfest celebration with some fine Atlantic offensive engineering when they trek north to play a familiar Palm Beach County foe in the Lake Worth Trojans on Friday, October 21, they play their first road game of the month at Lake Worth Community High School, 1701 Lake Worth Road, and stay undefeated in the District 10-8A with a 32-0 win with wheels.
Just before Halloween on Friday, October 28, the Boca Raton Bobcats come up I-95 just three exits to Delray Beach in an effort to narrow the score with Atlantic after losing a regular season and playoff game in 2015 to the Eagles. The Bobcats though were not fooled and treat the Eagles to a scary 29-28 loss. Atlantic ends the 2016 regular season at home on Friday, November 4, with the toughest game on the schedule against the William T. Dwyer Panthers and fall flat in the end, a 38-24 defeat to end the regular season with seven wins and three losses.
Playoff prediction: with a District record of four wins and just one loss, the Eagles make it to the playoffs and get a chance to play Boca Raton in the first round, this time they take care of business and beat the Bobcats 39- 17 to advance to a regional against the Deerfield Beach Bucks and overcome with a 21-18 win to advance and then a 27-26 win over Osceola High School and an invite to the final four state playoff finals where they lose to Christopher Columbus Boys Catholic High School 20-19 in the FHSAA 8A State Semifinals.
Here’s three Eagles players making their teams better in NCAA Division I-A College Football – Keith Bryant, is listed as a 6-foot-two-inch tall, 281 lbs., Junior, defensive tackle, for the Florida State University Seminoles Football team, ranked 14th nationally in 2015. Closer to home in Boca Raton, last season’s defensive field general for the Eagles, Chanler Ferguson, a 5-foot-11-inch, 230 lbs., linebacker from Atlantic is on football scholarship as a freshman for the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) football team in Boca Raton. Shelton Johnson, a 6-foot-five-inch, 212 lbs., defensive end, is now a sophomore on the University of Michigan Wolverines football team.
Three former Atlantic Eagles are soaring high in the National Football League (NFL). Brandon Flowers is in his ninth NFL season as a defensive back for the San Diego Chargers. Flowers teammate, Orlando Franklin just signed a five-year $36.5 Million contract with an $8 Million signing bonus deal as an NFL tackle going into his sixth NFL season. Jayron Hosley, is a cornerback who last played for the New York Giants in 2015 and going into this season is a free agent.
By: David DiPino Contributing Writer