The Lely Trojans play the Naples Golden Eagles looking to steal a couple of eggs from their nest to win the 36th annual Coconut Bowl tonight at Naples’ Starver Stadium.
If the Trojans don’t’ score early they may get fried by a Naples team that’s landmark is discipline. Something Lely has had problems with this season.
They also can’t get into a shootout like last season. Both teams had the horses for an offensive match-up. The Eagles flew away in the final quarter for a 50-33 win and the district championship. The runner-up prize went to Lely who also made the playoffs, losing to Dunbar in the first round.
For the Trojans this game is more about survival in Class 3A-District 12. An unfortunate loss to Lehigh has made this game a must win for Lely. The Trojans stand 2-1 while Naples is 3-0. A win tonight keeps Lely in the playoff hunt.
A loss tonight means Lely will be on the sidelines as Naples and Barron Collier play for the two playoff spots.
Lely Coach Dave Miller knows that Lely has to control the game. An inexperienced offensive line needs to suddenly grow up. It only had two players returning from 2008: Nick Thorstenson, tight end, and Max Tyler, guard moved to center. Tyler comes back for the first time in four games. His right knee has been ruled fit to play.
Makinton Dorleant, a punt and kick return specialist is back after nursing a leg injury last week. Defensive back and punt returner Jhony Faustin also returns after sitting out a week with a minor back injury. Both have scored on breakaway plays which Lely may need to win over the Eagles.
Darion Hall, who led the area in rushing last season, has felt the lack of an offensive line who could open holes for him. Naples, like every team, will put on a ferocious rush to keep Hall off his game.
Miller knows his defensive line will be tested as Naples prefers the run over the pass.
“We need to slow down their running game, keeping them in third and long situations,” Miller said. “We also can’t be lulled into their running game and they hit a home run on a pass.”
Lely has been susceptible to the big play this season, allowing one to two long pass plays in each game at critical times.
“When we have the ball our offensive line needs to be aggressive,” Miller said. “We need to open holes for Darion to break a couple of big plays. That also will open up our passing game.”
Naples leads the series, 21-14. Lely last won in 2005. The Trojans are definitely the underdogs, but they also were in 2005. Discipline, the team with the fewest penalties and turnovers, might just determine the winner.