Naples defeats South Fort Myers at 6A regionals
Highlights from the Eagles-Wolfpack game.
Notes on football playoff teams:
Minutes after the Lions' overwhelming 56-28 victory over Tampa-Carrollwood Day in the Class 2A-Region 3 final, FBA coaches were in the team's office scouring the Internet for any and all information on Miami-Dade Christian.
As he walked off the field, all Lions coach Billy Sparacio knew about the school his team will meet in the 2A semifinals was the Crusaders were good. It wasn't based on any firsthand knowledge, just the presumption Sparacio made — "Everybody is really good at this stage."
This is what his staff found: the Crusaders, like the Lions, are undefeated at 12-0. They are more rushing than passing. Dade Christian has three backs with more than 500 yards rushing and another at 410.
As for Lions quarterback/tight end Corey Todd, who missed the Carrollwood game due to a dislocated elbow, he will know later in the week if he will be able to make the trip to Dade Christian.
"I'll try to practice midweek, see how that goes. Based on that, I'll make my decision on Friday," Todd said.
— Scott Clair
A big stop by the Indians' defense late in the first half of Friday's Class 5A regional semifinal stole momentum from East Lee and stole the Jaguars' dreams of an upset.
After Immokalee scored the game's first two touchdowns, East Lee drove 71 yards and had first-and-goal from the 9-yard line with less than two minutes to play.
A penalty and a sack forced the Jaguars into a fourth-and-goal from the 14. With the pocket collapsing, quarterback Winfred Ward took off and managed only two yards. After taking over on downs, Immokalee drove 65 yards in 1 minute, 5 seconds and ended the half on a 40-yard field goal from Jesus Velazco. Quarterback Tshumbi Johnson was 4-for-4 passing on the drive.
Instead of pulling within 14-7 late in the first half, the Jaguars went into the break trailing 17-0. It was the second straight week Immokalee used a late score to break its opponent. In the regional quarterfinals, Johnson threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jummy Victorin with seven second left in the second quarter to give the Indians a 28-7 lead and control over Estero.— Adam Fisher
Thanks to a few perceptive and effective halftime adjustments, the Golden Eagles offense looked like itself in the second half of Friday's Class 6A regional semifinal.
South Fort Myers slowed down Naples' relentless rushing attack in the first half, yielding 178 yards but holding the Eagles to 14 points.
After halftime, with the Wolfpack focused on stopping Naples running back Manny Morgan, quarterback Kilton Anderson broke loose. Anderson ran for 107 yards and four touchdowns in the second half to lead Naples to a 42-21 victory.
The Golden Eagles (11-0) ran for 458 yards on South, which had given up just 117 rushing yards a game, including 280 in the second half.
"We were struggling a bit to protect (Anderson) throwing the ball," Eagles coach Bill Kramer said. "(Offensive coordinator Paul) Horne came up with a pretty good game plan to shore up the run game. As long as we could rush it, why not?"
With the win, Naples is headed to the regional championship for the eighth time in the past 12 seasons. The Eagles are one of 12 undefeated team left in the state, including fellow Collier County team First Baptist.
— Adam Fisher
SOUTH FORT MYERS
After his team was ousted from the playoffs by Naples for the second straight year on Friday night, South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead offered a dose of encouragement to his players.
"I told the kids to keep their chin up," he said. "Not a lot of people get to win 10 games in a year and get to this stage. They played a tough team. It's not like they gave away a game they weren't supposed to. They did all right."
South's 10-2 record marked the Wolfpack's seventh consecutive winning season, all under Redhead. The only year South has finished below .500 was its debut campaign in 2005.
As South bids farewell to nearly 20 seniors, plenty of voids will need to be filled next season. Some key departures include 1,000-yard rusher Robert Brown, wide receivers Eddie Collins and Dakota Phillips, tight end Alex DeJesus, quarterback Andrew Dailidoins, athlete Jayron Kearse, linemen Carl Antoine, Joe Fennell and Brandon Rothhammer, kicker Conner Kammerlocher, linebacker Jack Kelly and defensive backs Kenny Bishop and Eric Wester.
Look for speedy sophomore Antwan Dixon to get the ball more in 2013. Sophomore Keith Smith appears ready to take over the starting role at quarterback. Three freshmen — Willie Johnson, Jacarri Lewis, Nick Matthews — were on the varsity team for most of the season.
At least a handful of others from the class of 2016 will likely be promoted to varsity and fill some holes.
— Kevin Johnson