The Manta Rays want to test its sting when the Marco Island Academy's first football team plays a preseason game at Saint Stephen's Episcopal in Bradenton on Friday night.
Head Coach Andy Delgado thinks the Manta Rays have come along quickly. The question will be an untested defensive unit.
"On offense we have very good speed, sound quarterback and potential game breakers in our running backs and receivers, but defense is the question," he said. "We will probably have five to six guys going both ways. It will be a learning experience."
Delgado will serve as offensive coordinator, Chris Burt, defensive coordinator and Eddie Kirst, defensive backs and specialty teams.
After explaining how Paul Reisinger should position himself as a defensive back, Kirst spoke of the challenge.
"We have few people who have experience, but they are learning and giving a great effort," he said.
Burt said, "There is a lot of room for improvement. We need consistency and discipline that can come with time."
In not quite a Notre Dame "Win one for the Gipper," talk, Delgado said to his team, "We are new, so what. We are going to get better and be good. Being smart is extremely important and being fundamentally sound are keys. In the fourth quarter we want to be the bad guys."
During practice the team lined up for 50-yard sprints. They were to go off at "Hutt 2." If they went early those who did ran 100 yards, then joined back in for 50 yards.
To some that might seem harsh, but few missed the count again and plenty of water breaks were taken.
Quarterback Reese Carlisle threw well in practice and running backs Noel Cabrera and Jonatan Kriqi showed their elusiveness.
Carlisle played quarterback in middle school in Fort Myers.
"I love what we are doing," Carlisle said. "Everyone is working really hard, playing to their best ability."
Preston Reese and Peter Servente looked good at wide receivers and Andy Delgado Jr. can make a difference at tight end. Reese and Kriqi will definitely be part of the defensive backfield.
Delgado said the opponent has played football for five years.
"We expect a lot of blitzes," he said.
The regular season begins with the Manta Rays traveling to Oasis Charter High School in Fort Myers for a 7 p.m. encounter on Aug. 31. See more photos on marconews.com