The high school football season is finally here, and Palm Beach County’s slate of games for the Kickoff Classic features a pair of high-profile matchups between state championship contenders.
The biggest game of the week pits arguably the two best team in Palm Beach County against each other as the Dwyer Panthers visit the Palm Beach Central Broncos on Friday night. The game will showcase some of the county’s top talent as FSU commit Akeem Dent and former Miami commit Renato Brown face off against FAU commits Gio Richardson, James Meeks, and Antavious Lane. Several other Division I-caliber players will be on the field as well.
Palm Beach Central is using the preseason game to assess its highly-touted roster and look toward the changes it will have to make moving into the season.
“It’s going to be our measuring stick of where we’re going to be for the entire season,” said Palm Beach Central head coach Tino Ierulli. “It’s a great matchup, both teams have got talent, and these are the type of games you want to play right at the beginning of the year to see if you’re going to have to make adjustments.”
For Dwyer, the result of the game is less important that the development and growth that can be gained from playing a quality opponent like Palm Beach Central.
“I’m kind of torn,” said Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels. “Obviously, the kids want to win, and deep down you want to win, but you’ve also got 65 guys who have been busting their you-know-what all through summer, through fall practices, so everybody needs to get an opportunity in this game.”
Friday’s game also will bring some added drama held over from an offseason that saw Oxbridge Academy’s football program disband. Former ThunderWolves and FAU commits James Meeks and Gio Richardson expressed interest in joining Palm Beach Central but, ultimately, both players ended up at Dwyer. For Meeks, who was enrolled at Palm Beach Central until the week before the start of official practices, Friday’s game will be played against opponents he spent plenty of time around this summer.
While Friday’s matchup between the Panthers and Broncos has several compelling elements, it’s not the only notable kickoff classic game being played.
Atlantic, coming off a 12-win season and an appearance in the Class 8A state title game, will host South Florida powerhouse Miami-Central on Thursday night.
Both teams enter the contest considered among the top teams in their respective counties. Last season, Miami-Central lost to Dwyer 33-0 on the road.
Other games of interest in Palm Beach County (all on Friday) include Wellington visiting Boynton Beach, Park Vista traveling to Pahokee and Palm Beach Gardens hosting Glades Central.