NAPLES — New coach, new quarterback, new attitude, new result for the Lely High football team.
The Trojans, who went 1-9 last season, showed Wednesday that a little change can be a good thing in their spring game. Behind a new-look offense and an inspired defense, Lely beat Gulf Coast 23-12 at home.
Led by first-year head coach Stacey Stewart on the sidelines and quarterback Joel Devariste, Lely scored more points than it did in nine games last season. The only time the Trojans broke 21 last year was in their lone victory.
Devariste, last year’s backup took over at quarterback for Karbiel Dirogene, who had more than 2,000 yards of offense last fall as a sophomore. Dirogene was moved to linebacker this spring and also was used at running back Wednesday.
With Devariste still adjusting to varsity action, much of the Trojans’ heavy lifting was done by returning running back DeWarren Mobley. The rising senior ran for 108 yards on six carries, including a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Lely ran for 239 yards on 42 carries. Devariste completed just one of his four passes, but it was a 42-yard scoring strike to Termaine McClendon.
McClendon also scored on an 18-yard run and recovered a fumble on defense.
“Our team stepped up big,” said Devariste, a rising junior who saw action in two games last season. “There’s discipline on this team. There are a lot of leaders. We made a lot of changes, not just on the field, but off it.”
Stewart said he plans to use Devariste and Dirogene at quarterback next season. The coach moved Dirogene to linebacker to shore up a defense that allowed more than 35 points a game last year.
“When I looked at Karbiel, I saw that he’s one of our better athletes on the team,” said Stewart, a Lely graduate in his first year back after coaching in Georgia. “My philosophy is to put my best 11 athletes on defense. … Karbiel is also one of our better running backs, so we’ll get him the ball as much as possible.”
Gulf Coast took the lead early after Devariste’s first pass was intercepted by Josh Custer. The Sharks went on a 59-yard drive highlighted by quarterback Zimon Brennan’s 36-yard run and a 3-yard score from running back Brandon Mullings.
After the touchdown, which put Gulf Coast up 6-0, the Lely defense clamped down. The Trojans forced three turnovers and gave up just one more score, a 44-yard pass from Brennan to A.J. Carter on a broken play.
Lely had four sacks, including two from rising senior defensive lineman Claudel Alix.
Gulf Coast coach Pete Fominaya, also in his first year taking over his alma mater, said he was proud of his team’s effort but added the Sharks made too mistakes.
“Our focus has to be on limiting self-inflicted wounds,” Fominaya said. “We did a lot of good things tonight, but not enough good things to win. We’re going in the right direction, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Returning for his junior year after throwing for more than 1,000 yards last season, Brennan put together a solid performance. He threw for more than 100 yards while also rushing for more than 100.
LELY 23, GULF COAST 12
GC 6 0 6 0—12
L 6 10 7 0—23
GC — Mullings 3 run (pass failed), 6:47
L — Mobley 59 run (kick failed), 3:05
L — McClendon 18 run (Alfaro kick), 9:53
L — Alfaro 21 FG, 5:38
GC — Carter 44 pass from Brennan (kick blocked), 6:42
L — McClendon 42 pass from Devariste (Alfaro kick), 5:06