By: Wells Dusenbury
Three state championships. Showcase games on ESPN. Appearances in national rankings.
American Heritage has hit nearly every major milestone a football program can achieve. The one goal that's eluded them though has been an undefeated season.
This year's senior class is trying to change that.
"Being here so long and being part of this program for a long time, that would really mean a lot," said Heritage's standout running back Greg Bryant.
The electric senior has been a part of two state title teams at the school, but has never gone though the entire season without a loss.
This year though, the Stallions enter the final week of the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record. They've knocked off an area power in Atlantic. A state power in Seffner-Armwood. Even a national power in Lousiana's West Monroe.
Heritage, the defending 3A State Champions, put together one of the most rigorous schedules they've ever had, and it's only fitting that it closes out with perhaps the top public school program in Palm Beach County over the past decade: Dwyer.
While winning another state championship is the ultimate goal, it's clear how much being part of the first undefeated team in Heritage history would mean to this group.
"It means a lot because we've been working so hard ever since I came here," said quarterback Marcus Davis. "The seniors, we want to go out with a bang."
Standing in their way of that though is fellow state power Dwyer. The Panthers have made four consecutive state semifinal appearances, with the school breaking through for a state title in 2009.
While the match-up between the two teams looked like it could be a meeting of two nationally ranked team's, the Panthers' luster took a shot three weeks when they fell 28-12 to Atlantic, a team American Heritage shut out 29-0 in the season opener.
Despite that game, Heritage knows that the Panthers are still plently lethal. Following the loss, Dwyer made a quarterback change and has bounced back with two consecutive wins, including an impressive 21-16 road win over Royal Palm Beach to secure a playoff spot.
Even though Dwyer may not have its usual aura of dominance, defeating the Palm Beach Gardens power would check off another box on an already stellar season. But besides topping Dwyer and settling the discussion once and for all on who's the best team in the county, the Stallions are eager to debunk the myth that smaller schools can't compete with the big boys.
"Everyone thinks that because they're a big school, they can come in and whoop up on us," said Bryant. "We're here to show something different."
"If you're an athlete, you're going to make plays anywhere on the field. Big school, small school. It don't matter and we'll be there tomorrow to make that statement true."
Return to: High School Hysteria Blog