Eagles claim 6A-3 Title
Naples to play in regional championship game.
Immokalee gets revenge over Lake Wales
Indians cruise to 38-21 win.
First Baptist's dreams dashed
Lions come up short in state semifinal.
2012 PREPZONE FOOTBALL: WEEK 14
- Video: Naples dominates Daytona-Mainland
- Video: Immokalee gets revenge over Lake Wales
- Video: First Baptist's dreams dashed
- Photos: Naples vs. Daytona Beach-Mainland
- Photos: Immokalee vs. Lake Wales
- Photos: First Baptist vs. Dade Christian
- Prep football: Naples dominates Daytona-Mainland for Clas 6A Regional title
- Prep football: Immokalee revenges regular season loss to Lake Wales
- Prep football: First Baptist's dreams dashed, come up short in state semifinal
- Friday night lights: Scenes from Southwest Florida playoff football games
- Prep Football: Chat, scores, videos, photos and stories from Week 14
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- Database: Search high school football scores in Collier, south Lee
- Blog: The Huddle
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- Get complete high school sports coverage at naplesnews.com/prepzone
They started the day with sights set on a title, three teams looking to inch closer to the Citrus Bowl. For three hours, the boys from Naples, Immokalee and First Baptist Academy battled, their boisterous fans hanging on each play.
By the end of the night, supporters from two teams — Naples and Immokalee — would revel in victory, both headed to state semifinal games. But for First Baptist, on the losing end against Miami-Dade Christian, it would be a long drive back across Alligator Alley, their first Class 2A playoff appearance ending on the doorstep of the title game.
Dispatched to all three games, the Daily News documented the highs and lows of Friday night, from opening kickoff in Gary Bates Stadium in Immokalee to the wire-to-wire Naples victory on Staver Field to the disappointing finish for First Baptist in Miami.
7:25 p.m. — First Baptist
Senior lineman Seth Penner riles up his teammates with a passionate pregame speech.
"Nobody gives us respect, this is our time, We've got to take it."
7:29 p.m. — Naples
Fans have crammed into the stands, spilling over alongside the chain-link fence hugging the track, three-deep in some spots.
The Golden Eagles, playing Daytona Beach-Mainland in the Class 6A regional final, charge out as a flame lights up the heavy night sky in the endzone.
Tonight, there's no shortage of optimism. Mike Walker, father of sophomore safety Michael Walker, pauses for a moment before offering his prediction: "Win by two touchdowns."
7:39 p.m. — Immokalee
The Indians come out to a mostly full, but not packed, Gary Bates Stadium, the place lacking energy.
Visiting Lake Wales has only taken up about a third of its side. With night falling, several folks in the stadium are bundled up, looking like they're dressing for a blizzard.
Finally, kickoff comes.
7:43 p.m. — First Baptist
With the Lions up 7-0, their early momentum is thwarted when Miami-Dade Christian quarterback Gary Sampson electrifies the home crowd with a 68-yard touchdown run. The previously fired up Lions seem a bit pensive on the sideline.
7:47 p.m. — Immokalee
The home crowd explodes as Immokalee jumps out to a quick 14-0 lead, scoring on two of its first three possessions.
It seems to take a lot to impress Indians fans — imagine the talent they've watched through the years — but senior MacKensie Alexander does just that, plowing through a handful of Lake Wales defenders and outrunning defensive backs for a 62-yard score late in the first quarter.
8:10 p.m. — Naples
Armed with cowbells and homemade noise makers, fashioned out of water bottles filled with coins, the Eagles fans have had plenty to cheer about.
A 64-yard Max Joseph touchdown run. A Kilton Anderson quarterback keeper for six. And finally, early in the second quarter, the stands erupt as Jules Dornevil makes a leaping interception in the endzone.
Naples leads 12-0.
8:32 p.m. — Immokalee
Indians fans happily watch their boys strut to the locker room with a 28-7 halftime lead.
Lake Wales coach Rod Shafer took his team outside the stadium to a field and the proverbial woodshed. The gist of his message: "Play some football."
8:45 p.m. — Naples
The Golden Eagles walk off the field to a roar, dominating the first half with a 27-7 lead. Shirley Byrd, mother of freshman wide receiver Tyler Byrd, is first in line to greet the players as they head into the locker room.
"Everybody's in good spirits, everybody's getting along," Byrd says, her canary-colored earrings shimmering. "We've been great so far. Hopefully there won't be many more points put up on the board."
9:22 p.m. — Immokalee
Any wind left in the Lake Wales sails gets taken away by a failed fourth-and-goal run from the Immokalee 1-yard line. The Indians stuff Earnest Hamilton after a terrible Immokalee series and 20-yard punt led Lake Wales deep into Indians territory.
9:38 p.m. — First Baptist
With the Lions down 27-13 and the Crusaders driving for an apparent touchdown, Andrew Florvil fumbles into the end zone with just under five minutes remaining. "We're not done, we're not done," screams head coach Billy Sparacio.
9:40 p.m. — First Baptist
The Lions' last-gasp drive falls short with Jonah Bueltel's pass to Zach Williams stopped for no gain.
Appreciative of the efforts in a fine season, the Lions' crowd rises to its feet one more time for an "FBA, FBA" chant.
9:46 p.m. — Naples
A momentary hush of nervousness — Daytona Beach-Mainland had the ball after creeping within 13 points — gets quickly wiped out, as Naples drives for a touchdown, recovers an onside kick and completes a 24-yard scoring pass to Byrd within minutes.
If the crowd is quiet, it's because the Golden Eagles need no encouragement. With a 27-point lead, this game is over.
9:53 p.m. — First Baptist
A tearful Sparacio leads both teams in prayer and implores Dade Christian to go "win it all."
9:58 p.m. — Immokalee
The Indians sideline explodes into a frenzy of Gatorade, sweat, elbows and knees. As Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley and his staff greet the Lake Wales coaches, Indians players go berserk, hugging one another as cheerleaders and some younger fans join in.
"We're moving on," Ackley says, "and we feel great about our chances."
10:16 p.m. — Naples
With the victory sealed, the signs come out.
Linebacker Brian Donnelly holds "12-0, 2 to go." Defensive lineman Patrick Goodall shows "Final Four." Running back Carlis Fils-Aime hoists "Still Undefeated." Linebacker Friendli Napo, giddy with excitement, said last year's playoff loss to Daytona Beach-Mainland was still on his mind. "We played for the seniors from last year," Napo says. One sign that's no longer needed: the banner taped to the stadium box that read "Redemption." They've got it.