When it’s spring in Loxahatchee, dominance on the flag football field is the norm and close games are unusual. That’s what is expected when a program wins five state titles in a seven-year span.
“They’ve seen what the older players, the past players, have done,” Seminole Ridge coach Scott O’Hara said. “And now it’s their opportunity, their time to shine. And I think they’re hungry.”
But when Seminole Ridge and visiting Dwyer went to halftime without either team scoring a point Tuesday night, it seemed like something may be off, the traditional power about to be taken down by a district rival. But the Panthers couldn’t pull off the upset — the Hawks know how to win close, too.
Seminole Ridge (7-0), ranked No. 1 in Florida, escaped in its closest game of the season, beating Dwyer — ranked 13th — 13-6 and moved one step closer to winning District 8-2A.
The Hawks won on the back of their defense. Flag football offenses are pass-heavy, but Seminole Ridge held Dwyer quarterback Shannon McCool to only 26 yards on 12-of-17 passing. The Panthers had another 26 yards on halfback passes. Seminole Ridge had three interceptions.
The Hawks’ defense also provided the game’s first points. Early in the third quarter, senior Kristi Kemper broke the stalemate with an interception that she took back 20 yards to the end zone.
“That was a huge play,” O’Hara said. “Kristi, you can count on to make great plays offensively and defensively, and that was a big one to get us going.”
After focing a three-and-out, Seminole Ridge put the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Emily Higgins, who drove her offense 45 yards for the game’s first offensive score — a 7-yard pass to Ayanna Wiltshire.
“She had great mentorship from Madeline Harding last year, our state championship quarterback, and Emily has stepped up big-time. She wants to make Madeline proud of her … and she wants to go out there and show what she can do.”
Dwyer put the pressure back on Seminole Ridge, scoring early in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from McCool, but O’Hara said he thinks the close games only make his team fight harder.
“I told them that’s the sign of a great team,” O’Hara said. “You’re not always going to win pretty, sometimes you’re going to have to win ugly.”
Wellington 27, Palm Beach Gardens 6: Hallie Walker threw three touchdown passes, including one to Skylar Hagan, who also returned an interception for a touchdown as the Wolverines (5-3) handled the Gators in Palm Beach Gardens.
Park Vista 51, Spanish River 0: Diana Dorzene threw six touchdown passes and ran for two scores and Olivia Razzo threw three touchdown passes as the Cobras (5-0) dominated the Sharks in Boca Raton.
Santaluces 20, Atlantic 0: Lovely Moise threw three touchdown passes, including one to Keyontae Smart, who had five catches, and Leanza Wright scored two touchdowns and topped 100 yards in total offenseover as the Chiefs (5-1) blanked the Eagles.
Boca Raton 39, Forest Hill 0: Alexa Addeo threw five touchdown passes as the Bobcats (4-3) handled the Falcons in West Palm Beach.
West Boca Raton 13, Lake Worth 0: Haley Prouty threw two touchdown passes and Spencer Shore added an interception and three flag pulls as the Bulls (4-1) shut out the Trojans.