On paper the Lely Trojans are a heavy favorite to win at Cypress Lakes tonight, but they did when Lehigh came up and bit them in Class 3A-District 12 play.
Dave Miller says his team isn’t looking ahead after knocking off rival Naples last week.
“We know Cypress Lake is struggling, but we can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Hopefully we learned our lesson in losing to Lehigh.”
Lehigh buzzed the Trojans, 20-17, taking over the game in the fourth quarter. However, Lehigh has shown it is a district playoff contender at 3-1.
Lely travels to 0-6 Cypress Lake, 0-3 in district play. Cypress Lake has managed just 50 points, while giving up 206. With a win Lely will be 4-1 in district and 5-3 overall.
But the Trojans have been winning the hard way, by playing incredible defense. The offense totaled only 102 yards, rushing and passing, against Naples.
Over seven games Lely has scored 135 points, while giving up 110. Of those offensive points, 34 came against East Lee, also winless at the time.
Both teams have outstanding runners who have had underwhelming seasons, although the Panthers Savon Seward has run for nearly 600 yards in six games.
“A year ago he ran for more than 1,400 yards, but we struggle to protect the football and haven’t made key blocks,” Thornton said.
However, Thornton is encouraged by the way the Panthers played in its 21-6 loss to Golden Gate last week.
“We sustained two long drives of 11 and 16 plays, getting into the red zone four times, but scored just one touchdown,” Thornton said. “We also were hurt because our field goal kicker was injured.”
Lely coach Dave Miller would love to see his horse, Darion Hall, get on track. Hall has gained under 500 yards, well behind his pace when he had more than 1,700 yards a year ago.
Hall ran for 35 yards on 14 carries against Naples.
Miller says the offensive line is improving. It was a help when center Max Tyler retuned after missing four games to play against Naples.
Both coaches know Lely’s defense is the key.
“They are a dangerous, talented team on defense,” Thornton said of Lely. “They fly to the football.”
Miller says, “We have to capitalize on the field position that the defense can give us. The offensive line has to stick with their blocks longer and our backs need to be more aggressive in hitting the holes sooner.”
Lely, Lehigh and Naples have one loss each in district play. Undefeated Barron Collier battles Naples tonight.
There are various combinations that get Lely into the playoffs, or even get them into a three-way tie for the second playoff position.
“Our goals are in tact to make the playoffs,” Miller said. “It‘s up to us to make that happen.”