Looking to protect its undefeated record, Palmetto did so in impressive fashion on Thursday night as the Panthers sent their homecoming crowd home happy with a 35-0 rout of Miami High at Southridge Stadium.
With a huge showdown game next week for the District 16-8A title against South Dade on deck, Palmetto could have been looking past a Miami High team having a nice season.
But thanks to strong efforts from quarterback Kevin Smith, wide receiver Kentron Poitier and defensive end Leonard Taylor, the Panthers rolled to the easy win and moved improved to 8-0.
Smith threw for 167 yards on 12-of-16 passing, and Poitier, a five-star athlete with a truckload of FBS offers, caught five passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side, Taylor recorded three of the team’s eight sacks on MHS quarterback Makai Lovett as the Stingarees were held to just 5 yards of total offense in the first half.
“I was never worried about the look-ahead to South Dade, not with this group of kids,” Palmetto coach Mike Manasco said. “They’ve done a great job of staying focused all season on just who they had in front of them each week, and you saw that out there tonight. We havent talked about South Dade at all. As soon as the clock hit zero tonight, now we can turn our attention to them. They’re a great opponent, and we’re looking forward to a great game for the district championship.”
Miami High fell to 5-3 but the Stings, holding down the No. 6 seed in the Region 4-8A playoff chase (the top-8 teams get in) will likely hold their spot as they will get some RPI points for playing an unbeaten team.
“South Dade? No worries on that,” said Poitier who confirmed to the Herald that he has scheduled official visits to Florida State on Nov. 9, Florida on Nov. 30 when the Gators play FSU and Tennessee at a date yet to be determined.
“Coach [Manasco] has preached all season long that it’s one game at a time, so all we were worried about all week was Miami High and taking care of business tonight. Now we can start talking about South Dade and looking forward to next week.”
Palmetto jumped in front early when the Panthers, thanks to a perfectly executed fake punt on fourth-and-18 from the MHS 41 when Corey Collier took the short snap and rambled 21 yards, found the end zone on a 21-yard Smith-to-Bob Golden hookup.
After Tyrone Maxwell plunged into the end zone from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-0, Poitier got in on the act when he snagged an 5-yard scoring toss from Smith on a quick slant and then used his superior athletic ability to go up high in traffic and snag a 22-yard touchdown just 45 seconds before halftime.
Palmetto put touchdown No. 5 on the board midway through the third quarter when Jaylen Jones scored from a yard out to make it 35-0 and get the running clock going.
Said Taylor: “All blue helmets to the quarterback tonight, baby. We just wanted to go out there and dominate and that’s what we did. We feel like there’s no better defense around. Now we have to keep our minds right and keep pushing forward. Looking forward to next week.”