Notes on area football teams:
Barron Collier did exactly what it wanted on offense Friday, smoothing the rougher edges of its new triple-option attack.
The next step: building a passing game that will keep defenses guessing.
Cougars first-year coach Dan Pallante said his squad will start incorporating more throws after Friday's 27-0 drubbing of Miami-Braddock, when Barron Collier attempted just two passes and ran 50 times. Starting quarterback Carson Klahm didn't complete one throw, and he tossed another to a Miami-Braddock defender in the season debut. Two other dropbacks ended in a sack.
"In a roundabout way, they're still learning a whole new offense, and there are still little mental errors here and there," Pallante said. "Hopefully, once we get rid of that, we can open up the whole package."
Klahm said he's looking forward to adding diversity to the play-calling, but noted the run-heavy offense better suits Barron Collier than last season's spread attack.
"Our style of offense works a lot better now for the personnel we have," Klahm said.
— Jacob Carpenter
Evangelical Christian might not be the small-school juggernaut it's been the past two seasons, but it's fair to call Community School's 21-14 victory over the Sentinels on Friday an upset. It might even be the biggest win in the Seahawks' brief history.
Before the season-opener, Evangelical Christian hadn't lost a regular-season game in almost two years, since Sept. 3, 2010. It had been even longer since the Sentinels lost a district game, which last happened in October 2009.
Evangelical lost 18 of the 30 players on last year's roster to graduation and might be in rebuilding mode this season. Still, the importance of the win for Community School's third-year team can't be understated.
The only win that can compare might be the Seahawks' victory over heated nemesis St. John Neumann last season, the first time the two crosstown rivals played in football. The win over the Celtics was Community School's only other victory against a Class 2A-District 6 opponent on the field (the Seahawks earned a forfeit over Bradenton-St. Stephen's last year.
All three Seahawks touchdowns Friday came from the arm of junior quarterback Drew Tomaini. He tied a career high with the three scoring passes and is well on his way to topping his total of eight touchdowns each of the past two seasons.
— Adam Fisher
Senior quarterback Christian Phillips is really catching on as the replacement for longtime starter Ryan Sides, now at Ohio Northern.
In Friday night's 16-7 season-opening win at Cape Coral-Ida Baker, Estero's first-ever against the Bulldogs, Phillips was 19 of 33 for 158 yards in the Wildcats' more balanced offense. He did suffer an interception that was returned for the Bulldogs' lone touchdown, but the opposing quarterback was picked off three times and Phillips quickly regrouped.
Phillips, who completed five of his first six passes, also hung in the pocket behind an improved offensive line, and had a 2-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-inches.
"He did a great job," said fifth-year Estero coach Rich Dombroski. "They gave us easy passes and we took them all night long."
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound quarterback's favorite target seems to be senior wide receiver Rodolfo Sasso. The sure-handed and agile Sasso pulled in a dozen Phillips passes for 102 yards.
Five Wildcats caught passes and do-everything senior Ricky Lopez was second to Sasso with three receptions for 39 yards. That included a 28-yarder, Estero's longest combination on the night.
— Dana Caldwell
With nearly every player back from a team that rushed for 313 yards a game last season, the Lions figure to have one of the most potent offenses in the area this season. Yet it was the defense that stole the show Friday.
By knocking off Moore Haven 14-0 in Week 1, not only did the Lions beat their district rival for the first time and get a leg up in the 2A-6 standings, they also recorded their first shutout. Since starting a program in 2009, First Baptist's defense has improved each season, but Friday was the first time it has held a team scoreless.
With the Lions clinging to a 7-0 lead until late in the fourth quarter, their defense maintained the lead by shutting down Moore Haven's athletic backfield. Moore Haven managed 127 yards and was held to three yards a carry. First Baptist forced one turnover, an interception, but the Terriers hurt their own cause with nine penalties for 85 yards.— Adam Fisher
Titans coach Mike DIGrigoli didn't have much good to say about his team's 27-0 loss to Port Charlotte on Friday.
"Port Charlotte ran 71 plays. We ran 52," DiGrigoli said. "A lot of miscues on offense. We played a lot of defense. We couldn't get anything going."
Things won't get any easier this Friday when the Titans host Fort Myers in their home opener on Friday. The Class 6A Green Wave finished 9-3 last season and made it to the regional semifinals. Last week, Fort Myers defeated Lehigh 29-12.
"Fort Myers is an excellent team," DiGrigoli said. "We'll work this week on getting our assignments down, get back to basics, and talk about regrouping."
— Scott Clair
Just one game into his tenure, Sharks head coach Pete Fominaya already has done something no one else at Gulf Coast has.
By beating Miami-Archbishop Carroll 32-8 in Friday's season opener, Fominaya becomes the first Sharks coach to win his debut game on the sidelines. His three predecessors at Gulf Coast since the school opened in 1998 all lost their first games.
After Friday's win, the Sharks appear to be on the way to becoming a more physical team, which was Fominaya's goal when he took over the program. Gulf Coast averaged seven yards a carry on the ground, led by Wes Dawson's 70 yards on eight carries. The Sharks also held Archbishop Carroll to 66 yards of offense.
Though the win won't go down as a shutout, Gulf Coast held Carroll's offense scoreless. The Bulldogs' only points came on a kick return touchdown to start the second half.
It was a welcomed improvement from last year, when the Sharks allowed almost 36 points a game. The fewest points Gulf Coast gave up in any game last season was 17, and it only held opponents under 20 points twice.
— Adam Fisher
Like its preseason victory the week before, defense was the star for Immokalee in Friday's victory at Sanford-Seminole.
The Indians scored seven touchdowns in a surprising 49-19 romp over Seminole, which has been a Class 8A playoff team in recent years. Immokalee's five offensive touchdowns all came off turnovers.
The Indians recovered three Seminole fumbles and had five interceptions. Senior Mackenro Alexander, committed to Florida State, returned an interception 45 yards for Immokalee's final score of the night. The Indians also scored on special teams thanks to D'Ernest Johnson's 78-yard kickoff return.
Johnson did it all for Immokalee on a night when the offense struggled. The Indians averaged less than three yards per rush, but Johnson ran 18 times for 67 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a touchdown reception and had five tackles on defense.
The Indians, who averaged more than 400 yards a game last season, could be establishing a new identity as a defensive-minded club. In a 47-0 victory over LaBelle in the preseason, the Indians scored two defensive touchdowns and two on special teams.
— Adam Fisher
Stacey Stewarts first game as head coach did not turn out the way he wished, with a 23-13 loss at Riverdale on Friday night.
"A big play for them created momentum. We need to forget it and maintain our confidence, (in those situations)," he said.
Defensive back Jose Olalde fired up Lely with an interception that he ran back for a touchdown.
Stewart credited the defensive team for the score.
"We put Olalde in a position to make a play because everyone did their job as a unit," he said.
Stewart took blame for his team not responding well after Zach Gober's touchdown pass."It was my fault. We will continue to practice harder and I will get us ready to finish," he said.
Going forward, Stewart said the team needs to stay focused.
"We need to make sure we don't beat ourselves," he said. "I have to do a better job coaching throughout the week and allow are boys to play."
— Roger LaLonde
MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY
The Manta Rays took their learning lumps on Friday, losing to Oasis Charter, 52-0.
Yet coach Andy Delgado and his new team continue to take the positive road.
"Our kids gave each other hugs and we took the good things that came out of the game," Delgado said. "We are honest about this season. We know we will take our lumps in learning how to play the game."
Half of the 26-man roster had never played football.
"They aren't football savvy, but I am seeing them grow each week," Delgado said. "We all motivate each other."
The Manta Rays' game against Evangelical Christian has been canceled as the Sentinels do not have enough players to make up a JV team.
Made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Marco Academy was to play six varsity games and four JV contests. Delgado said the team could use a bye, to heal small injuries and work on defense and offense.
"We played a good second half, not giving up any points (against Oasis)," he said.
There is no short-term fix, the kids just have to practice hard and learn in games, Delgado said.
— Roger LaLonde
The Golden Eagles sliced through North Miami's defense with ease in Friday's 50-20 victory. Naples racked up 521 yards of offense and averaged 8.7 yards per play.
It seems the only thing that could stop Naples' powerful veer-option attack was the Eagles themselves. Naples gained 28 first downs against the Pioneers, but it could have been even more if it weren't for penalties and miscues.
The Golden Eagles were flagged 15 times for 118 yards, which includes two 15-yard face mask penalties and two 15-yard personal fouls for hits after the whistle. Three Naples kickoffs went out of bounds, resulting in penalties that gave North Miami the ball at the 35-yard line.
"Penalties concern me," coach Bill Kramer said after the game. "I've never seen anything like it. We'll look at the film and see what we can coach different."
The offense also was slowed by dropped passes. Quarterback Kilton Anderson completed just 4 of his 13 attempts, but at least five passes that would have been first downs were dropped after hitting receivers in the hands.
— Adam Fisher
Bears coach Ryan Mitchell said he knows what his team needs to do against rival Gulf Coast on Friday.
"We have to get better at stopping the run," said Mitchell, whose team allowed 385 yards on the ground last week in a 34-14 loss to Lemon Bay. "We really struggled with that on Friday."
The Sharks, who were primarily a running team in their win against Miami-Archbishop Carroll last Friday, will look to give Palmetto Ridge all it can handle.
Mitchell was also bothered that his team had the ball inside the Lemon Bay 25-yard line five times but came away with zero points each time.
The Bears will look to make it two in a row on Friday against their North Naples rivals. Last year, Palmetto Ridge won 33-27. Two years ago, with a playoff berth on the line, the Sharks beat the Bears 32-28 in the game's final minutes.— Scott Clair
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
The Celtics spent their Monday practice fine tuning their offense and defense after cruising to a 50-6 win against St. Stephen's on Friday.
Coach Steve Howey also went over Friday's game film with the team. They picked apart the positives and negatives of their big win in order to keep focus on their season goals.
"We had a good practice," Howey said. "Every kid was there except for one, which was impressive for a holiday. It shows they are committed to winning this year."
St. John Neumann will face their first non-district opponent of the season, Oasis Charter School, on Friday night at 7 p.m. Oasis, which is playing varsity football for the first time, crushed Marco Island Academy, 52-0, last week.
— Ryan Toohey
SOUTH FORT MYERS
Wide receiver Eddie Collins is the go-to guy for South Fort Myers in the air, but he's got plenty of company.
The Wolfpack displayed a vast array of targets for quarterback Andrew Dailidonis to hit in their win last week at Cypress Lake on a night when South opted for short to midrange passes rather than bombs.
With increased roles compared to a year ago, seniors Alex DeJesus and Dakota Phillips made the most of their season debuts. DeJesus, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound tight end, was the offensive star of the first half with four catches for 39 yards as he displayed an ability to shed tackles after short grabs.
The second half belonged to Phillips, a 6-1, 170-pound wide receiver. Three of Phillips' four catches came in the final two quarters, including a 17-yarder for a touchdown, the first in his varsity career.
Bishop Verot transfer I'tavious Harvin and Fort Myers transfer Eric Wester were among the six different South players with at least one reception. Two years ago, Harvin returned a punt for a touchdown that helped Verot beat South in a freshman game.
Cypress Lake transfer Jayron Kearse was used on a few plays as a wide receiver. His one catch was negated by a penalty.
— Kevin Johnson