Atlantic Eagles football team ‘soaring’ at the right time – The Denver Post


In the grand scheme of things, Atlantic High School sophomore quarterback Lincoln Graf said two early season losses to Palm Beach Gardens (39-38) in overtime and then to North Miami Beach (30-28) proved beneficial to the football team.

The Eagles (6-3) stumbled out of the gate at 1-2 and have since gained momentum with the playoffs around the corner. The school has won five of its past six games, including three in a row since a 27-14 setback against Pahokee.

Graf has literally had a big hand in it, as he has passed for 1,560 yards and 21 touchdowns. He threw for 121 yards and four scores in Atlantic’s most recent win, a 43-0 victory over Glades Central.

The Eagles’ defense also played a part in forcing three turnovers and held the Raiders (2-7) to just 53 yards of offense. Atlantic improved to 4-1 in the series between the two teams with a third straight win since Glades Central’s only victory, a 14-13 victory in 2016.

“Those two losses showed us, our capability — what our ceiling and what our bottom would be,” Graf said. “We showed that we could lose games if we didn’t play the way we are supposed to. We saw what the bottom is, and now we are starting to see what the top is.

“I would rather roll in the playoffs than early in the season,” he added. “I don’t really feel any pressure. The reps I got last year really got all of the nerves out of me. Now I really get to focus on games. Our potential is limitless, and potential is nothing if you don’t do anything with it.”

In the win over Glades Central, Graf connected on a 29-yard TD to junior Oneil Shearer and then hit senior Mi’Kel Hendrix for a 5-yard score to give the Eagles a 14-0 first-quarter lead. The Eagles made it 22-0 on a 38-yard scoring run by junior Da’marion Alberic with 11:23 left in the first half.

Graf extended the lead to 29-0 on a 6-yard scoring toss to Shearer with 10:14 left in the third quarter that capped a 60-yard drive to open the second half. The big play in the drive was a 41-yard carry by Alberic on the first offensive play. Alberic finished the game with 10 carries for 120 yards and a score.

“It’s very helpful having a quarterback like Lincoln,” Alberic said. “It just shows we can score in different ways.

“I think we also needed those two early-season losses,” he continued. “It really helped to build team chemistry, and the team is better now because of it.”

Graf hit senior Martay McClendon on a 17-yard scoring play, while Eagles’ junior Jovante Pierre-Louis closed out the scoring on a 5-yard TD run with 50 seconds remaining for the final 43-0 margin.

Atlantic coach Jamael Stewart said the team has matured since the beginning of the season.

“We know that we are young, but the kids are athletic,” Stewart said. “They needed to learn the game of football, so we took a look at the way we were practicing, and we were coaching them at their potential, and we went back to the basics — Pop Warner, youth football and make it fun and have our kids play fast. We dumbed down our offensive playbook and our defensive scheme, and our kids now are playing fast. They are basically doing what we want them to do.

“Right now, we are at the tip of the iceberg,” Stewart beamed. “Our train is really catching steam…Lincoln Graf is our conductor. He is running the engine and running the caboose. This kid works, and he studies the game. He is just a good kid all around. A lot of times after losses or after wins, he is the one out here cleaning up the field. I am not surprised at what he is showing, and he hasn’t really hit that peak yet.”



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