Offensive stars have come and gone, district alignments have changed, but a few things have been consistently similar with the Palm Bay High football team for almost two decades: the defense has been strong and the coaching staff has been stable.
It is not coincidental that another thing that has been consistent for 18 years is this: the Pirates have been in the playoffs every one of those years.
This season has turned out no different. Palm Bay will enter the postseason Friday in Orlando with a Class 5A regional quarterfinal game at Bishop Moore.
Just as they have done throughout the season, the Pirates’ defense showed in their final regular-season game, a 53-15 win against rival Bayside, that their pass rush and run defense are tough to overcome.
“The defensive line has played phenomenally this whole year,” Troy Wolters said after recording three sacks Thursday. “Every player is fast, and we get there.”
Wolters has gotten there 12 times this year.
Bayside — also a playoff team — managed just 96 yards of offense against Palm Bay. Titusville, a prolific scoring team this year, marched down the field quickly against the Pirates in a District 12 game earlier in the season and then struggled to find a rhythm in a 49-14 Palm Bay win.
The Pirates have held six of their 10 opponents to single digits on the scoreboard.
Offensively, Palm Bay has hit its stride lately, scoring 42 against a solid Satellite defense in Week 10. The Pirates’ running game had one of its best outings seven days later. Individually, Sekai Lindsey had perhaps his best game, gaining 241 yards and scoring three times against the Bears. He had touchdown runs of 45 and 66 yards on which he looked like a track star.
“I think his progress has been great,” said offensive lineman C.J. Allen. “When we get the job done, you can see his speed.”
Allen has been part of an offensive line with size and some experience that has opened holes not only for Lindsey but — again as has been a Palm Bay calling card — a number of backs with varied skills who have provided a different look to opposing defenses. Key defenders Reggie Benjamin and Twonnie Pollard are two Pirates who have gotten carries and shown their versatility. Fullback Latravious Brown has shown his ability to pound the ball up the middle.
Should Palm Bay advance to the regional semifinal round, they will get a second shot at unbeaten district foe Merritt Island with a chance to advance to a regional final for the fourth consecutive season, another Pirates calling card that has become a bit of a tradition for a program steeped in it.
Port St. Lucie W, 30-6
Heritage L, 27-22
at Melbourne W, 13-0
at Rockledge W, 30-7
Treasure Coast W, 10-7
at Titusville W, 49-14
Astronaut W, 31-13
at Merritt Island L, 14-6
Satellite W, 42-6
at Bayside W, 53-15
Playoff seasons: ’78, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12
Playoff record: 35-16