Immokalee at Lely
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Immokalee 3-2, Lely 2-3
Key players: IM — C Mikey Campbell, DB Mackensie Alexander, RB Jacky Marcellus, RB D'Ernest Johnson, QB Tshumbi Johnson.. L — OL Eddie Carey, OL Jamal Durity, OL Adam Hurdis, OL Booz Cantave, OL Les Seide, OL Elihu Martin.
What to watch for: Immokalee offense getting into high gear. Lely offense establishing running game to keep the Indians' offense off the field.
NAPLES — Lely hosts Immokalee tonight in the Class 5A-District 12 opener for both teams. The only other team in the district is 0-5 Golden Gate, and two teams get to advance to the playoffs. Tonight’s game may determine who gets the top seed.
Immokalee (3-2) has the edge over Lely (2-3) with a high-octane offense led by senior quarterback Tshumbi Johnson and running back D’Ernest Johnson, Tshumbi’s brother. Lely has not gained 100 total yards in either of its last two games.
Lely coach Stacey Stewart said the Immokalee defense worries him.
“They are big, strong, extremely athletic and can close gaps fast,” Stewart said. “We also have to be able to make good adjustments on defense to what they are doing on offense.”
Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley said his Indians will need to make sure they don’t turn the ball over and limit penalties.
“We need to slow the Lely offense down,” Ackley said. “They (also) have more athletes on defense than we’ve seen in most games, except Naples and Lake Wales (both Immokalee losses).”
A former Lely offensive coordinator, Ackley likes what he sees in first-year coach Stewart. He went through some of those steps when he took over at Immokalee three seasons ago. His first year he was 5-6, the next 12-2. His 3-2 mark this year makes him 20-10.
In speaking of Stewart he said, “It is a challenge to put together a good staff and he has hired Lely guys who are energetic and loyal to that program.”
Ackley’s program has certainly drawn the attention of college scouts. Up to a dozen Indians are being recruited or have committed to Division I schools.
“It has brought a new dynamic that helps us grow, yet brings high expectations,” he said. “It has gotten more intense.”
Ackley appreciates how key players have grown with the program.
Wide receiver Jummy Victorin, defensive back Mackensie Alexander, center Mikey Campbell, running backs Jacky Marcellus and the Johnson brothers all have made a difference over the years, he said.
Ackley said Tshumbi Johnson isn’t putting up the same running stats as before because he has learned to take time to make a pass rather than abandon the pocket too quickly.
Stewart doesn’t like to single out players, saying his philosophy is team football. However, he knows his defensive and offensive lines need to play well against the Trojans.
“Although people have not seen a lot of yards in our offense, I saw where we were an inch from breaking a 50-yard run, one missed tackle and we have a 60-yard run,” he said. “We are getting a good effort and working on technique to continue to improve.”