2012 PREPZONE FOOTBALL: WEEK 16 (INDIANS ROAD TO STATE)
- Video: Immokalee drops heartbreaker to Godby
- Video: Top 10 plays of 2012
- Video: Indians welcome 2004 state champs (Archived Video)
- Photos: Immokalee vs. Tallahassee-Godby
- Your Photos: Immokalee Fan Photos
- Your Photos: Immokalee Band Photos
- Photos: Immokalee Football 5A State Practice
- Photos: Immokalee Football Championship Pep Rally
- Prep football: Immokalee loses heartbreaker, 21-20, in 5A title game
- Prep football: Indians QB Tshumbi Johnson has rollercoaster of game in loss
- Prep football: 5A title game filled with Division-I recruits
- Prep football: Immokalee's road to the state championship
- Chat archive: Cougars defeat Indians, 21-20
- Prep football: A breakdown of Godby Cougars
- Prep football: 2004 state champs inspired Immokalee's current title run
- Prep football: Indians try to avoid distractions on eve of state championship
- Prep football: Coach Kepple breaks down Immokalee O-line
- Prep football: Indians inspired by Coach Kepple, who fights rare disorder
- Prep football: Immokalee RB Marcellus out for title game, will undergo surgery after season
- Prep football: State title would fulfil childhood dream for Immokalee seniors
- Prep football: Defense 'the glue' that binds Indians' title hopes together
- Prep football: D'Ernest Johnson shakes off fumble, runs Immokalee to state title game
- Special Section: Learn more about Immokalee's Road to the State Championship Game
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- Database: Search high school football scores in Collier, south Lee
- Blog: The Huddle
- Podcast: The Huddle
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ORLANDO — The Immokalee football team hit the field around 3 p.m., ran through plays, went over its defense and practiced special teams.
If it weren't for the three-hour bus ride to practice, preceded by a parade through town and followed by a team dinner at a hotel, it would have been just another Thursday for the Indians.
That was the plan. With so many potential distractions looming, the Indians tried their best to keep their schedule as normal as possible leading up to today's Class 5A title game.
"It's just our regular Thursday practice," senior lineman Deadrin Senat said. "We're just getting ready for the game. We're trying not to think about anything else. That's important."
Immokalee faces Tallahassee-Godby at 1:07 p.m. in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. It's a game the Indians have been looking forward to since they began playing football, and the excitement can be overwhelming.
To counteract the nerves, plus the distractions of a road trip, Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley took his team to Edgewater High School for its typical Thursday walk-through. The Indians went over a few plays and talked defense less than four miles from the Citrus Bowl.
"We wanted to keep things as normal as possible and get the bus ride out of our legs," Ackley said. "I think we accomplished that. We went through our normal pregame procedure, and we're ready to go."
The Indians arrived at Edgewater at 2:30 p.m., trotted off the bus in shorts and T-shirts, and put on their helmets for the padless workout. Once the 60-degree breeze hit them on an overcast day, the players promptly returned to the bus to put on long sleeves and, in some cases, pants.
The brief practice was part of a busy day for the Indians, playing in their second state championship game and first since they won the title in 2004.
Immokalee High School held a pep rally for the football team Thursday morning where the game ball was flown in by a police helicopter. The Indians then walked through the elementary school to great cheering young fans and had a parade through Immokalee as they headed out of town on their charter bus.
After finishing the walk-through, Immokalee headed to its hotel to get some rest. The Indians ate a team dinner together and watched film to mentally prepare for today's game.
With so much new and unfamiliar about their road trip to Orlando, the Indians want to focus on what they know today. Immokalee players said they have to play the way they've been playing in the playoffs to bring home the school's second state championship and the fourth outright title in southwest Florida history.
"We're a little nervous," junior receiver J.C. Jackson said. "We just need to stay focused, play Immokalee football and keep our heads up and we'll be all right."
Though the emotion of playing for a title can be overwhelming, Ackley said his players haven't let nerves or excitement get the best of them.
"We have been very, very focused this week," Ackley said. "These players have been preparing for this basically their whole lives. Eight years ago they were the elementary school kids holding up the signs (for the 2004 team). Today they got to be the heroes of those elementary kids."