NAPLES — Though the skies finally cleared enough Friday to allow the Lely football team to play a complete four quarters for the first time this season, considerable storm clouds still loomed over the program in the form of ex-coach Steve Pricer.
Pricer, in the stands as his former team lost to Gulf Coast, 34-16, and who resigned Thursday after 32 years as a member of the Trojans staff, said he was prepared to “severely punish” star running back Darion Hall before he was asked by the school’s administration to step down.
He also indicated that he believed his dispute with the senior Miami recruit led to his being forced to step down or be fired.
“We were set to severely punish him,” said Pricer, who was sitting at the 50-yard line with his wife, Brenda, and son Zach.
Pricer would not elaborate on Hall’s alleged transgressions, only saying that Hall was “disobeying team rules.”
As for the game, it looked like it was going to be a long night for Gulf Coast. The first three plays the Sharks ran from scrimmage: lost fumble, penalty, lost fumble.
The Trojans, who had yet to play a complete four quarters going into the matchup and under the direction of interim coach Dave Miller, took advantage behind two Frankie Pugh touchdown runs to go up 16-6 at halftime.
Then came the Gulf Coast downpour. The Sharks shut out Lely the rest of the while 28 unanswered points in the second half to notch their second victory, 34-16.
Sharks running back Jermain Troutman, who fumbled the first two times he touched the ball, eventually recovered, rushing for 128 yards and scoring two touchdowns, one coming on a 50-yard punt return.
The Gulf Coast defense, which is using a new 5-2 scheme this season, was also outstanding, limiting the Trojans to 81 total yards, including just one rushing yards on 33 attempts.
“Our offense didn’t do well in the first half,” said Gulf Coast coach Frank Tudryn. “Jermain is like lightning in a bottle sometimes. He can turn a busted play into a big play, like that punt return.”
Asked if he was set to kick Hall off the team before his resignation Thursday, Pricer would not go any further, saying, “ ‘Severely’ pretty much covers it. I mean how do you severely punish a kid on a football team?”
Hall did not play Friday night. Lely athletic director Paul Ruby said Hall was suspended for one game based on a coach’s decision.
As far as Pricer goes, Ruby and Lely principal Ken Fairbanks reiterated that they stood by the press release issued by the school district stating that Pricer resigned due to health issues.
Pricer, who recently underwent knee surgery, denied that was the case. He said he was forced to resign due to a dispute around removing players from the field due to lightning warnings at the Trojans’ practice Wednesday.
PREP FOOTBALL: WEEK 2
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- Photos: Prep football: Gulf Coast High fans
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- Story: Prep football Week 2: Ex-coach Pricer watches Lely lose to Gulf Coast, 34-16
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- Story: Prep football: Friday's scores from around the state
- Story: Prep football: Immokalee's desperation fourth-down heave turns into game-winning TD against Naples
- Story: Prep football: Palmetto Ridge rides early offensive outburst to win in Battle for the Gate
- Story: Prep football: Barron offense romps in blowout win over Miami-Carroll
- Story: Lely star running back, Miami recruit, Hall suspended for tonight's game
- Story: Prep football: Ex-Lely coach Pricer at tonight's game after Thursday resignation
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- More: Go to naplesnews.com/prepzone to get more Prep Football coverage