Wellington Wolverines' senior quarterback Ryan Anthony at practice.
In the Internet era, star athletes at all levels are seen online, if not on TV as well. They’ve become performers as well as athletes, often branded as much for the entertainment value of their tattoos or hair as their running or jumping abilities.
But 18-year-old Ryan Anthony, starting senior quarterback and offensive captain for the Wellington High School football team, is a rarity. Look for the defining character trait that defines this student-athlete’s brand, and you’ll find it’s, if anything, humility.
It might be hard to be humble for anyone in Anthony’s shoes. He’s a natural athlete and a studious two-sport star who excels equally as an attacker for the lacrosse team. On the football field, he’s a dual threat as a passer and rusher.
“We run a spread offense, where I can read the ends and decide whether to pass or pull the ball down and run,” he says. “I ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash this summer, which I know isn’t all that fast. I’m more of a quick-first-step guy.”
“He’s a left-handed stick in lacrosse and a right-handed passer in football,” says second-year Wellington head football coach Danny Mendoza. “And he had 1,000 yards passing and 800 yards rushing for us last year.”
Anthony’s slightly undersized 5-foot-11 height and 170-pound frame recall NFL quarterback Doug Flutie.
“But with his arm,” says Mendoza, “Ryan plays like he’s 6-foot-3.”
True to form, Anthony deflects any such comparisons.
“I just try to be myself,” he says, “and play my game.”
A starting QB since his sophomore year, Anthony had a trial by fire during a COVID-shortened 2020, a rare 3-4 losing season for Wellington in nine-year head coach Tom Abel’s final run.
But last season, Mendoza’s first as head coach, Anthony was a primary reason the Wolverines finished with a 7-4 record. With the school’s top-shelf stadium and surrounding athletic facilities, 30 returning senior players, and one of the only artificial turf football fields in Palm Beach County, Wellington could be poised to earn at least a district championship. Under Abel, the Wolverines did just that in 2014 and 2016.
Wellington Wolverines' head football coach Danny Mendoza.
On Aug. 26, in the first game of the 2022 season, Wellington traveled to western Lake Worth to face another perennial area power in Park Vista. Behind Anthony’s 200 yards passing and a touchdown, plus 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one of those runs covering 56 yards), the Wolverines dominated the Cobras, 41-0.
After back-to-back loses, the Wellington Wolverines get some momentum back after a 39-12 victory over the Royal Palm Beach Wildcats last Friday.
With interest from colleges like Lehigh in Pennsylvania and Davidson in North Carolina, as much for the future business major’s 4.3 weighted grade-point average as his prospects on the football field, Anthony nonetheless deflects credit for his success.
“Coach Mendoza came in here and changed the energy of the whole town,” he says. “Everybody on the team believes in him, and we all have a great connection with him. We know we can talk to him about anything.”
This season, much of that talk might center on continuing to win and making a state playoff run.
Wellington’s remaining home games are against Forest Hill (Sept. 30), John I. Leonard (Oct. 14) and Palm Beach Lakes (Oct. 21) at 2101 Greenview Shores Blvd. (561-791-9388).
The Wolverines’ away games are at Vero Beach (7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at 1707 16th St., 772-564-5600), Palm Beach Central (Oct. 28 at 8499 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, 561-304-1000) and Seminole Ridge (Nov. 4 at 4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, Loxahatchee, 561-422-2600).
All kickoffs are at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.