AT A GLANCE
Coach: Stacey Stewart (1st season)
Last year: 1-9
Key losses: RB/DB Zach Smith
Returning starters: RB DeWarren Molbley, RB/DB Karbiel Dirogene, RB Williamson George, DB Malcom Perry, DB Nicolas Colson
Aug. 31 at Riverdale 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 Cypress Lake 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Cape Coral 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 North Port 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Barron Collier 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 Immokalee 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Gulf Coast 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 Golden Gate 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Palmetto Ridge, 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 Naples 7:30 p.m.
NAPLES — Former Lely High standout Stacey Stewart wants to build a family atmosphere within the community and the locker room in his first year as coach.
To help Stewart, who guided the Trojans to a win over Gulf Coast in their spring game, he has six Lely alums on his coaching staff. Stewart said his coaches see how he feels about Lely.
“They see my passion about turning this program around,” he said.
Stewart had been an assistant coach at Camden County High School in Kingsland, Ga. While there, the team won two straight state titles and eight straight regional crowns.
In searching for a coach, Lely badly needed a winner after winning just three games in the last two seasons, including a 1-9 campaign a year ago.
Stewart and his wife, Paige, prayed on their decision. In the end they felt it was right to come back to Lely, where for three decades his dad, Don, was one of the top boys basketball coaches in Southwest Florida and brother Scott is currently growing the basketball program at First Baptist Academy.
While this year’s Lely team is young, Stewart considers himself fortunate because he only lost one key player to graduation in running and defensive back Zach Smith.
“We have a lot of young talent and we expect our seniors to step up and take on leadership roles,” Stewart said.
Discipline is a key to Stewart’s rebuilding plan.
“With discipline are boundaries,” he said. “Kids love them and thrive on them. I think we will play our best because we all know the expectations.”
Lely drubbed Evangelical Christian 41-12 last week in its preseason game, but it didn’t start out easy. The score was 7-6 at halftime, mainly because of penalties, an all too familiar problem for the Trojans. All told, four touchdowns were called back.
Stewart passes off the penalties as a young team trying to make plays. Stewart himself played a role in two delay of game penalties for taking too long in sideline discussions before getting his offense onto the field.
But focusing on the roster, it’s like pulling teeth to get Stewart to talk about individuals.
“We are truly a team, we focus on being a team, not individuals,” he said.
Stewart used three quarterbacks — Joel Devariste, Zach Gober and Karbiel Dirogene — in the Evangelical game and expects he’ll do the same at Riverdale in Friday night’s season-opener.
Running backs DeWarren Mobley, Williamson George, Stivens Beauplan, Tupac Isme, Marvin Libersste and Dirogene will share the load.
Defensively, backs Malcom Perry, in his fourth season, Colson Nicolas and Chrisnell Germain stood out in the Evangelical Christian win.
Stewart insisted there is no looking ahead — Lely plays one game at a time, starting with Riverdale.
“We don’t talk about wins and losses,” Stewart said. “We know it is all about hard work to win and never underrating your opponent.”