The Miami Hurricanes’ new turnover chain features prominently the county’s traditional area code, 305. But for the St. Thomas University Bobcats, who played their first football game Saturday, three other numbers are proving important, too.
In a 38-14 loss to Thomas More on Saturday, running back Robert Armes scored the first St. Thomas touchdown. The school’s first touchdown pass went from quarterback Jordan Sepulveda to wide receiver D’Amaunte Oliver.
Armes, Sepulveda and Oliver are all from West Palm Beach.
“I was excited when [Armes] scored,” Oliver said. “I wanted someone from Palm Beach to score so that people know ‘561’ means something.”
Oliver, whose first name is a loose translation of the Spanish word for diamond, which is diamante, sparkled on that 5-yard touchdown, going up to get the ball over a defensive back in the left corner of the end zone.
He had missed the previous play because of cramping — the game was played at noon in 95-degree temperatures — but he raced back on the field, figuring he was needed.
“I knew they were going to call a goal-line fade. I had that feeling,” said Oliver, who wants to be a sports broadcaster. “I got to scoring, and then I got to running.”
After his touchdown, Oliver raced toward the Bobcats sideline and then kept running until he got behind the bench, where he locked eyes with his parents and other family members high up in the stands.
“I wanted to let them know, ‘We did it’,” said Oliver, who scored 12 touchdowns last year at Palm Beach Lakes Community High. “My family was jumping and screaming, and they had little horns [they were blaring].
“[St. Thomas] is my school. This is where I belong. I was supposed to celebrate with my teammates, and I did, after. But that move [to salute his family] was instinct.”
Oliver said playing in that noon heat gives the Bobcats a “slight advantage” over out-of-state opponents such as Thomas More. However, the Bobcats will hit the road for the first time on Thursday, when they board buses to Kentucky to play Union College (0-2) on Saturday.
“I like that we’re taking the bus,” Oliver said. “We’re going to create a bigger bond (as teammates) than we have right now.”
That bond is already pretty tight in the 561.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Union College, which finished 2-8 last year, has been outscored 44-7 and 42-18 in its first two games this season.
▪ Bobcats captains for their inaugural game were Sepulveda, center Joey Suarez and the two starting outside linebackers in their 3-4 defense, Donnell Bennett III and Keshun Horton.
Sepulveda is a sophomore transfer from Concordia University Chicago, where he started as a freshman. The 6-0, 185-pounder is majoring in biology with aspirations of becoming a doctor.
Bennett’s father played running back for the Miami Hurricanes and in the NFL.