LAKE WORTH – On the night of Sept. 23, Park Vista (5-0) accomplished something it had never done in the program’s 12-year history.
For the first time ever, they beat Atlantic (2-2) in a regular season football game by a score of 23-20.
The victory over the Eagles was arguably one of the greatest wins that coach Brian Dodds has ever had during his coaching tenure at Park Vista.
The victory solidified the Cobras as legitimate contenders to claim the District 10-8A crown that Atlantic won last season. In essence, Friday night’s game was one for the ages.
From the onset, the game looked as though it would be a tough defensive struggle for both teams, exchanging 3-and-outs in the early going. But that would soon change.
On Park Vista’s second possession of the game, quarterback John Smith engineered a beautiful touchdown drive that he capped off with a 7-yard run around the right side for the first score of the game. It gave the Cobras a 6-0 lead before the extra point was blocked.
After another Atlantic 3-and-out, Park Vista blocked Atlantic’s punt attempt, setting them up deep in Atlantic territory. From there Cory Cola would do the heavy lifting, racing around the right side from 5 yards out.
Cola’s score gave Park Vista an early 13-0 lead, and looked like the rout was on.
At this point Atlantic head coach T.J. Jackson decided to make a quaterback change. He brought in last year’s starter Zavion Thompson to replace Curtis Williams. The change worked as the Eagles came storming back to take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
After taking the second half kickoff and driving deep down into Cobra territory, it looked like the Eagles were ready to take command of the game. But on a third-and-goal play from the 9-yard line, a Zavion Thompson pass was intercpeted by free safety Jordan Jackson on the goal line and returned 71 yards to the Atlantic 29-yard line.
Just two plays later, Smith would scamper 27 yards for his second touchdown of the game. It gave the Cobras a 20-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After Park Vista added a field goal, it looked as though Atlantic was poised to make a comeback when Thompson hooked up with wide receiver Cory Gammage for a scoring strike with about 6 minutes left to play.
But it was not to be, as Park Vista would drive down the field and run out the clock. It effectively dashed any hopes of an Eagle comeback victory.
“This win is as good as it gets,” Park Vista head coach Brian Dodds said. “I’m so proud of these kids. This was a total team win by all 49 members of this football team. Every week, different players step in and step up to makes plays. I just can’t say enough about how proud and happy I am about the dedication and sacrifice these kids make for this team.”
Dodds spoke on what the season-shaping win really means for Park Vista.
“We took a huge leap forward towards our goals, and what we want to accomplish here this year,” he said. “We are no longer the hunted. We are now the hunters.”
Side note: A fan poll was recently taken on our Twitter account to see which Palm Beach County team had the best overall performance from Week 5. Park Vista came out as the best team with 40 percent of the vote, beating the likes of Oxbridge Academy (32 percent), Dwyer (17 percent), and Pahokee (11 percent).