Notes from the area's local high school football teams.
Coming off a bruising, yet exhilarating, 12-9 win over Immokalee the week before, the Barron Collier Cougars were more than ready for a week off. The Cougars used the time off to heal a few minor bumps and bruises.
One thing Barron Collier (5-3) won't have to worry about is too much wear and tear being placed on any single player on the offense. It is no secret the Cougars employ the run almost exclusively but they have used a menagerie of different ballhandlers to do it. The Cougars have eight players who have registered at least 20 carries.
— Daily News staff
In the second half of the season, Community School coach Damon Jones wanted to see more offensive consistency, to eliminate the errors holding the Seahawks back.
Against Bradenton-St. Stephen's, they did just that.
Community School only had one explosive offensive play — a 40-yard touchdown pass — but the Seahawks didn't have an interception and committed just one penalty. They had two fourth-quarter fumbles, but by that time, the victory was pretty well secured.
"I thought we were pretty good in the first half, driving for three scores," Jones said. "The second half, it was more of a coaching decision, to kind of run down the clock and not turn it loose again."
The Seahawks have rescheduled their game with Southwest Florida Christian that had been postponed after SFCA middle school football player Jesse Watlington was struck by lightning at a practice earlier in the week. Watlington later died.
The game will be played at Community School on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m., with gross receipts from the gate going to the Jesse Fund.— Jacob Carpenter
The Wildcats clinched their first winning season in 11 years with Friday's 48-35 shootout win at Class 5A-District 11 foe Cape Coral-Mariner.
But, as has been the case with Estero (6-2, 3-1) throughout the season, this is all about the playoffs, something fifth-year coach Rich Dombroski is trying to get the Wildcats to for the first time in his tenure.
Estero dropped the ball — and what the Wildcats thought was a big win opportunity — with its district-opening loss at East Lee County. But with no margin for error, the Wildcats have roared to three straight district wins.
East Lee (5-3, 4-0) has turned out to be the king of the five-team district crop and already has clinched the title.
Estero has just one district game remaining — this Friday night at Lehigh (2-6, 2-2). At stake is the playoffs berth that would accompany a second-place district finish with a win. To get it, Dombroski said the Wildcats will have to play much better than they did at Mariner, where they were a bit surprised to have such a tight tussle after leading 34-21 at the half.
Lehigh is a lot like Mariner: Dangerous despite its record. The Lightning lost, 48-42, against Cape Coral last Friday.
"We still don't know how to finish," Dombroski said. "That's one of the things we've got to work on next week. Lehigh's a good team, an athletic team. We've got to be able to jump up on people and finish them. We can't just say, 'Well, the second half will be just like the first half.' It just doesn't happen that way."
— Dana Caldwell
Following a series of quick strikes from First Baptist's prolific offense, the Lions might have sealed their first district championship Friday with a long, methodical scoring drive.
First Baptist's first five touchdowns at Sarasota-Out-of-Door Academy came on drives averaging just four plays and less than two minutes. With their defense struggling to stop ODA, the Lions (8-0) kept the ball away from the Thunder for more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Lions' final touchdown of the night came on an 80-yard drive that lasted 7 minutes, 21 seconds. It ended in a touchdown by Chris Dorrill to put First Baptist up 46-27 with 5:29 left.
The drive was kept alive by a roughing the punter penalty on the Thunder. It would have been First Baptist's only punt of the night, and ODA would have had good field position down two scores with eight minutes left.
ODA still managed to score twice in the final five minutes but didn't have enough time left to complete the comeback. With the win, the Lions secured the Class 2A-District 6 championship, the program's first.
— Adam Fisher
When the schools meet on Friday at Titans Stadium, it will be the second year in a row Golden Gate will play Immokalee for the Class 5A-District 12 championship.
If the Titans prevail, it will be the first district title in the program's nine-year history. Last year at Immokalee, the Indians made quick work of the Titans, winning 69-13.
Regardless of the game's importance, Titans coach Mike DiGrigoli said his team will not do anything special during the practice week to prepare for the 5-3 Indians.
"It will be the same thing we tell them every week — we have to go back to work (on Monday)," DiGrigoli said after his team defeated Gulf Coast on Friday for its third straight win. "We'll work on things we didn't do well. Our mantra all season has been 'Focus on us, not them.'"
— Scott Clair
Despite a 2-6 overall record and an 0-2 Class 7A-District 11 record, the Sharks still have a shot at the postseason.
The first thing that has to happen is for Gulf Coast to win at Lemon Bay on Friday. The second thing the Sharks need is for first place Charlotte to defeat Port Charlotte, also on Friday.
That scenario would create a three-team tie for second place in the district between the Sharks, Manta Rays and Port Charlotte. Each team would have a 1-2 district record and create the need for a three-team tiebreaker to be played the Monday immediately after the last game of the season on Nov. 9.
According to the FHSAA website, the tiebreaker would unfold thusly: Port Charlotte would receive the top seed because it has the best overall record of the three teams, followed by Lemon Bay and Gulf Coast.
The Sharks and Lemon Bay would play a 12-minute quarter. The winner would play the Pirates in a 12-minute quarter. The winner of that would be the district runner-up and advance to the playoffs.
— Scott Clair
Coming off its bye week, Immokalee might be the healthiest it's been all year heading into its most important game to date.
The Indians play at Golden Gate on Friday, where the winner will be Class 5A-District 12 champion and host a first-round playoff game. Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley expects his full complement of players after having two weeks to rest and recuperate.
Ackley expects linebacker Joslin Alberique to play for the first time this season. The senior was second on the team in tackles last year. Two-way lineman Kerby Henry, who has been out since hurting his arm in Week 4, also should return.
Quarterback Tshumbi Johnson still is experiencing some lingering effects from spraining his shoulder three weeks ago, but Ackley said the four-year starter should play.
"We needed to take a week to get healthy, mentally and physically, and we did that," Ackley said. "I'm excited about the progress we made last week."
— Adam Fisher
The Lely Trojans had a second week of strong offense in its win over Palmetto Ridge, 47-0, on Friday. Now they go against a very stingy defense in Naples in the 39th annual Coconut Bowl at Lely on Friday.
"The Lely-Naples game is always an exciting time," Lely coach Stacey Stewart said. In 1985, as Lely's quarterback, Stewart and the Trojans downed Naples, 21-14.
Naples holds the overall victory edge, 23-15, with Lely last winning in 2009. In 2011, the Naples defense held Lely to just 66 total yards of offense.
"We've talked about what we need to do as a team," Stewart said. "We'll have a game plan for Naples, but we are working on Lely's best effort. Lely has to take care of Lely."
— Roger LaLonde
MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY
Marco Island Academy (2-6) goes back on the road for a game at Solid Rock Christian Academy in Miami on Friday.
The road wasn't friendly for the Manta Rays on Friday, losing to Gateway Charter, 47-0.
"They had 17 seniors playing in the game, they were much more experienced," Academy coach Andy Delgado said. "They were bigger and much more physical. It was like men playing boys."
Solid Rock should be more to Academy's liking. The Eagles (3-3) have a high school population of 60, with 25 boys on the football team. It will be Solid Rock's homecoming game.
Both teams are in their first season, playing varsity competition to be eligible for Florida High School Association designations for district competition.
Delgado said his team continues to have a great attitude.
"We knew we had to pay our dues as we grow as a team," he said. "We are laying the foundation for the years to come."
— Roger LaLonde
Forgive the Golden Eagles if they're a little bit restless before this week's game at Lely. Come Friday, Naples will have played just once in the past four weeks.
After beating Barron Collier 42-14 on Oct. 5 the Eagles (7-0) had a bye week. Then Naples beat Palmetto Ridge 64-7 on Oct. 19, and game in which many starters rested in the second half. The Eagles were set to host North Miami Beach last week, but Dade County Public Schools canceled all outdoor activities with Hurricane Sandy approaching.
The extra week off means some of Naples' first-stringers have seen only two quarters of game action in almost a month. The Eagles are hoping to make up for lost time Friday in the 39th annual Coconut Bowl.
While they would have rather been playing, Naples coaches were able to do some scouting Friday with the night off. Head coach Bill Kramer went to Cape Coral-Island Coast, where the Gators beat Riverdale. With the win and Cape Coral-Baker's loss, Island Coast clinched the runner-up spot in Class 6A-District 11.
Naples, the 6A-12 champion, will host the Gators in the regional quarterfinals Nov. 16.
— Adam Fisher
The Bears fell victim to problems the team has been plagued by the entire season once again in a 47-0 loss to Lely, namely stopping the rush on defense and completing drives on offense.
Led by quarterback Karbiel Dirogene (169) and Mikey Plancher (112), Lely put up 327 total rushing yards against the Bears on Friday. For the season, Palmetto Ridge has allowed opponents 1,040 yards on the ground.
On offense, the Bears were unable to find the end zone despite having several opportunities thanks to Lely's defense keying in on Palmetto's primary threats, receiver Javion Morgan and running back Ronnie Johnson, who have accounted for 10 of the team's 11 touchdowns this season.
— Daily News staff
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
The Celtics (6-3) began preparing Monday for their final game of the season against Evangelical Christian.
The Celtics, coming off a win last week against Southwest Florida Christian, are one win away from their best record since the 2007 season. In order to get that win, coach Steve Howey said he will focus on defense during this week's practices.
"It's their offense against our defense," he said. "We understand how Evangelical can move the ball and what they can do on offense. It's not a game we're going to take lightly."
St. John Neumann will celebrate Senior Night on Friday at home against the Sentinels. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.
— Ryan Toohey
SOUTH FORT MYERS
Despite all the success that South Fort Myers has produced in its seven-plus years, the Wolfpack have never had a 1,000-yard rusher.
Robert Brown could be the first to reach that plateau.
By rushing for 203 yards in last week's win against Charlotte, Brown set a team record for most rushing yards in a season. The 5-foot-8, 155-pound senior has 932 yards heading into the Wolfpack's final regular-season game on Friday at Ida Baker.
After a slow start, Brown has picked up momentum ever since week 4. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in five of the past six games and has scored touchdowns in six straight games.
"He's trusting his line," said South coach Grant Redhead. "This is the first time we've had a back that trusts in the line and will hit it up in there and where the hole is supposed to be."
As for the team's overall running game, Redhead said he likes what he sees.
"Sometimes, they spin out for a touchdown; sometimes they get five or three or 20 (yards), but they're running where they're supposed to," he said. "They're not getting in there and trying to wiggle around; they're running hard downhill."
— Kevin Johnson