Either Steve Pricer of Lely or Mark Ivey of Barron Collier will get their first regular-season victory Friday night at Lely.
This will be Ivey’s first game, joining the Cougars after coaching at Cypress Lake for five years. For Pricer it will be his first game as head coach after 31 years of being an assistant.
Both teams went 5-5 in 2006, with neither making the playoffs. This is a non-district game; the Cougars are 4A and Lely is 3A.
Lely has revenge in mind after losing by one point, 20-19, in 2006. In that game the teams posted big offensive yards, both gaining over 350 total yards.
But the runners who put up most those yards are gone.
The Cougars key returnee is quarterback Vince Caputo, whose passing numbers weren’t impressive in the Cougars preseason win over South Fort Myers, 14-6, last week. However, his running yardage was the difference
Operating out of a new spread-option offense, Caputo was just 5 of 11 for 47 yards, but ran for 123 and both touchdowns.
"Vince has the talent to do it every Friday night," says Ivey. "He just has to relax and make it happen. He’s our guy." Ivey said the offensive front line was decent, but said the overall running and passing game was a disappointment.
"In order to have a prayer against Lely we need to get the hand-offs right and improve our pass-catch game, which was very poor (against South Fort Myers)," he said.
The Cougars new 4-4 defensive set really made the difference, registering six quarterback sacks.
"Our defense played very well and was solid against the run defense," Ivey says. "I think they only gained a total of 50 yards, but they aren’t Lely. Lely has much more talent. They have speed on their side and utilize a good offensive scheme. They have a very fast tailback and a tough quarterback who is top-notch. We need to control the ball to eat up the clock."
Lely showed it could be explosive with Fortin Faustin running for 143 yards on 20 carries and quarterback Mike O’Regan, with his speedy receivers, registering 199 yards in a preseason win over Lehigh, 34-13.
The Lely defense stone-walled Lehigh, giving up only 100 yards of total offense. Offensive mistakes gave Lehigh its two scores.
It looks like whoever plays the best defense wins.
"We are honestly worried about how we will move the football against Barron," Pricer says. "They are big, physical and well coached."
He acknowledged that the Cougars have capable running backs and receivers, but Caputo is the key for the Cougars.
"The defensive key is stopping their quarterback," says Pricer. "So far the quarterback has been their offense."
The running tandem of Mitch McCluggage, Tyrone Moss and Jonathan Valez, rushed for just 81 yards against South Fort Myers.
"We have speed on both sides and hopefully we can give them fits," says Pricer. "We also have good receivers who can add yards after the catch."
Defensively, Lely’s line looked good and a young linebacking corps more than held its own against Lehigh. However, the Trojans were susceptible to the run from the quarterback slot.
"We can’t do that against Barron," Pricer says. "If we do it can be a long game."
BARRON COLLIER (0-0, 0-0 4A-15) at LELY (0-0, 0-0 3A-14), 7:30 p.m.
Key Players: BC -- QB Vince Caputo, Offensive line, DE Mike Cowhig, DE Anthony Zanette; Lely -- QB Mike O'Regan, RB Fortin Faustin, WR Justo Vasquez, DB Sanchez Faugue
What to watch for: Two emerging programs under two first-year coaches (Mark Ivey at Barron and Steve Pricer at Lely) look to establish prominence in the first week of the regular season. Both programs looked good in preseason wins. Lely was impressive -- polishing off a 34-13 blowout of last year's district champion, Lehigh. Barron beat a South Fort Myers team that nearly made the playoffs last year, 14-6. Continuing the similarities, both programs were 5-5 last season, and Lely missed the playoffs for the first time under coach Chris Metzger, who left after the season to take a position in North Carolina. Neither school wants to return to a middling record, and the best way to avoid that would be a win Friday night. Lely allowed just 100 yards of total offense against Lehigh, but the Trojans will face a more powerful offensive threat against the Cougars on Friday. Both teams are stronger on the ground than in the air, and it seems likely that whoever gains more rushing yardage will also go on to win the game.
-- Angela Busch/Staff