The 2012 team — despite coming up one-point shy in the state championship — is considered one of the best teams in the history of Immokalee High School football. But who is the best? This starts a good the debate.Here is a look at the best Indians squads of all-time.
This team won the state championship, and it might have been the best "team" in every sense of the word.
People forget the Indians were led by a 5-foot-7 quarterback who couldn't throw the ball more than 30 yards. But Phillip Perez, who only threw 12 TD passes on the season, was a great leader.
The offense had talent in the backfield with juniors Javarris James and Renold Jean-Louis, rushing for more than 1,600 yards and 15 TDs. They also had sophomore fullback Brian Rolle bruising for first downs. Perez didn't make many mistakes and was mature beyond his years. The Indians also had an impressive defense that didn't allow a point in the playoffs until the state championship against Madison County.
Juniors John Paul, a defensive end, Jean-Louis, who also played defensive back, and Rolle, who had 178 tackles (114 solos), anchored the defense.
Wiselet Rouzard, Rodelin Anthony and head coach John Weber were the true heart of the team. These three kept the team focused all the way to the title.
Many call this the second most talented team, behind this season's squad.
The Indians enjoyed an undefeated regular season. They also suffered the first true heartbreaker in Immokalee High history — losing to Sean Taylor and Gulliver Prep (Miami) in double overtime in the state semifinals.
Taylor, the late Miami Hurricanes and Washington Redskins star, ended the Indians' season, 29-28, on a memorable flying-through-the-air-vertical-over-the-defense-with-the-ball-stretched-out two-point conversion to end the game.
The 2000 team had future college players: QB/CB Walter Belleus (Iowa), FB Walter Campbell FB (Florida A&M), OL Shelly Houston (South Florida), Ovince Saint Preux (Tennessee) and Brian Rolle's older brother, LB William Rolle (Illinois State). Weber called this his most talented team.
This Immokalee team had experience with 15 starters from the 2004 state title team returning and added future Wisconsin standout Aaron Henry, who returned kicks and played wideout and defensive back.
Javarris James, who starred at Miami, battled injuries all season and still averaged 132 yards in eight games with 11 TDs.
This team, ranked No. 3 in the state, unfortunately moved up in class and was beaten in the regional finals by No. 1 Glades Central and its roster full of Division I players.
The Indians lost 44-33 to Glades Central in a backyard brawl. The game turned out to be the state championship game without the trophy on the line.
John Paul, who became a monster on defense, said it best after the season-ending loss: "Good guys don't always win."
It's been dubbed the season that didn't count. Already, it has sadly been forgotten.
The Indians were banned from the postseason for the use of an ineligible player, a replacement kicker, for four games in 2005. With the turmoil, Weber predicted before the season that the Indians would go 3-7.
The players used the ban as motivation and took it out on everyone else. The team — led by seniors Brian Rolle, who went on to star at Ohio State, and Aaron Henry — outscored opponents 399-36 on the season.
And the Indians didn't play a bunch of slouches: they thumped Naples, 28-0; dominated a Cape Coral team, 28-9, led by Nate Allen (Philadelphia Eagles); and shut out American Heritage, 37-0, to preserve the perfect season. This team mirrored the 2004 unit — it had more heart than talent.
It would be a football sin to examine the best Immokalee teams without mentioning Edgerrin James.
The former Hurricanes and NFL star rushed for 2,127 yards (tops in the state) on 248 carries in 10 games as a junior in 1994. In 1995, injuries limited him to five games and 1,252 yards and 10 TDs.
Edgerrin ended his prep career with 4,248 yards and 48 TDs, but no playoff wins. His teams never made it out of the first round.
Only time will tell where this team — filled with Division I talent that came oh-so-close to winning it all — will end up in the rankings.
It certainly made its mark and will be remembered for the heartbreaking loss.
Tom Hanson is a News Editor at the Naples Daily News. He covered Immokalee High football from 2003-2006.