It is showdown time for Lely and Barron Collier. A win by either team gets them in the playoffs. Because Lely lost to Lehigh, the best it can do is second place. If they lose, the Trojans are out and Lehigh gets the second spot and Barron Collier will be the champs since the Cougars beat Lehigh.
“We control our destiny,” Lely coach Dave Miller said of Friday’s home game. “Our defense has been playing outstanding football and we think our offense will step up.”
Barron Collier (7-1) averaged 41 points and 376 yards a game during the first six weeks of the season. In the past two games, the Cougars have managed a fraction of those totals. They have scored just 21 points and gained 298 yards combined.
After a loss to Naples in Week 8, the Cougars pulled out an 18-15 victory last Friday against Golden Gate. It was just the second time this season Barron Collier scored less than 33 points.
Lely is 6-3, with four straight wins, but only Friday’s game matters.
“Win or be out of the playoffs; we know what we have to do,” Miller said.
Barron’s offense will have to move past a red-hot Lely defense to win the Class 3A-District 12 trophy. The Trojans have given up only 19 points during their current four-game win streak, including just one touchdown.
Gulf Coast @ Palmetto Ridge
With both teams struggling and no playoff berth at stake for the Sharks (3-5, 0-2) or their opponent Friday, Palmetto Ridge, there still will be something to play for.
The loser of the game will be ensured a place in the Class 4A-District 12 cellar. There’s that, and the fact that the Sharks put up a 70-spot on Palmetto Ridge last year.
In that game, the Bears scored 27 points by halftime ... and still trailed by 15.
Does Sharks coach Frank Tudryn think revenge will play a part in any motivation for the Bears (4-4, 0-2) against his team?
“The revenge factor is overrated,” said Tudryn. “We’re both in the same boat. Both teams are looking to right the ship. Besides, it’s a new year, new game, new kids.”
One player who will be returning is Sharks wide receiver Zac Rittberg.
In last year’s game, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior had six catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. This season, Rittberg is the team’s second leading receiver with 22 receptions for 293 yards and three touchdowns.
After starting the season 4-1, the Bears have lost three out of their last four games.
Palmetto Ridge head coach Dan Newbrough says that they match up pretty well with the personnel at Gulf Coast.
“We are going to have to execute and move the ball,” Newbrough added.
The Bears defense will have its work cut out for them against the Sharks, who have a passing game led by quarterback Darby McCormick.
The Sharks have had success this season by using different offensive formations. The Bears’ main priority will be to identify those formations and stay in their positions.
“What they (the Sharks) try to do is mismatch you and get you out of position defensively,” Newbrough said.
Running back Shun Knowles has been Mr. Consistency for the Titans this season. The senior was again Golden Gate’s biggest offensive threat last Friday, running for 111 yards in their 18-15 loss at Barron Collier.
It was Knowles’ sixth 100-yard performance in nine games. He has 925 yards this year and six rushing touchdowns. Against Naples this week, Knowles has a chance to be the second 1,000-yard rusher in Golden Gate’s brief history.
Knowles might have already surpassed the mark if it weren’t for a leg injury in Week 7 against Cypress Lake. The ailment limited him to six carries and 25 yards. Despite the season-low output, Knowles is averaging 103 yards a game.
He could have a tough time reaching the 1,000-yard milestone, however. He needs 75 yards and Naples’ defense holds opponents to 74 rushing yards a game. The Golden Eagles were upset at Lehigh last week, 34-14.