Notes on area high school football teams. Coaches break down what happened last week, and what they're facing heading into the third week of the regular season:
With tight end Mike Heuerman, a Notre Dame commitment, out nursing a sprained ankle, Barron Collier coach Dan Pallante eased the complexity of his playbook Friday.
Despite rushing for 249 yards on 50 carries, Pallante remained disappointed in his team's execution.
"That's what bothers me, we really wanted to water things down and work on a couple things and we didn't," Pallante said.
While the nearly 250 yards may sound impressive, 75 of those came on a single run. On the remaining 49 carries, the Cougars averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.
Pallante expects Heuerman to return this week.
— Jacob Carpenter
The Seahawks hope to have one of their key contributors back when they travel to St. John Neumann on Friday for a key District 2A-6 showdown with the Celtics.
Juslin Jean, a two-way starter at running back and defensive end, missed last week's 33-22 loss to Out-of-Door Academy with a concussion, and the Seahawks certainly missed him.
"He's huge on both sides of the ball," CSN coach Damon Jones said. "He's very athletic and defensively. We didn't get the same pressure on the quarterback and (Out-of-Door's Evan Wilson) was one of the best QBs we'll see; he can really sling it.
"But that's small-school football. When you only have 23 guys, anytime you lose someone it hurts you because you're not only losing one starter, you're losing two."
With Jean out, Ford Ott got the bulk of carries in the backfield. He finished with a game-high 71 yards on 14 carries.
"Ford Ott did a great job," Jones said. "He had to carry the ball almost every time. But hopefully Juslin is feeling better and we can get back to full strength (against Neumann)."
— Andy Sodergren
Nick Nataro entered the season with the kind of frame that college recruiters love.
Now the Estero junior has begun to put up numbers that are bound to get noticed.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Nataro was a prominent figure in the Wildcats' 51-20 loss at Island Coast on Friday. In only his second game as a varsity tight end, Nataro had 11 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown
"He had a great night. Nick is a blue chip-type recruit. He's going to be a (heck) of a tight end," Estero coach Rich Dombroski said.
Nataro caught five passes from Christian Phillips in the first half and six in the second half. Eight catches were for double-digit gains, including a 30-yarder in the third quarter.
Nataro's first catch of the game also was his first career touchdown, which came on a roll out pass from Phillips from one yard.
Dombroski said there's no doubt in his mind that Nataro will draw interest from major programs.
"If he was a senior, they'd be all over him. He's only a 16-year-old junior," said Dombroski, whose team's home opener is Friday against North Fort Myers.
— Kevin Johnson
Always looking to make his team better, Lions coach Billy Sparacio said there still is room for improvement after Friday's 67-0 win over Bradenton-St. Stephen's. Sparacio might be the only one who finds anything wrong with the blowout victory.
The fourth-year program established a number of school records with the win. The Lions set program marks for most point scored as well as largest margin of victory. This also is the team's first 2-0 start to a season.
As expected, the Lions' ground game has been potent early this year. First Baptist ran for 237 yards against St. Stephen's after rushing for 248 yards in Week 1 against Moore Haven.
With this season's fast start, the Lions have won six straight games dating back to last season. After going 7-3 last year, First Baptist has won nine of its past 11 games.
"It's a combination of so many things — hard work in the weight room, the maturity of the young men," Lions coach Billy Sparacio said. "A lot of these kids were young, and they started to come around the way we ended last year. I think we're trying to pick up from that."
— Adam Fisher
One of the biggest bright spots, in what has been a disappointing start to the season for the Titans, has been the play of quarterback Taylor Anderson.
"We are still trying to work things out and get people into the right spots," coach Mike DiGrigoli said. "We have a really young receiving corps but (Anderson) has a been a high point for us and given us something to build on."
The junior had another impressive outing in the team's 37-22 loss to Fort Myers, completing 18 of his 26 pass attempts for 223 yards. He finished the day with three touchdowns, including a 37-yard strike to Dominic Enyart in the second quarter.
Despite the 0-2 start, DiGrigoli is optimistic that the Titans will be able to turn things around.
"Everything that has happened to us is correctable," he said. "We've got to work on executing and we've got to work on fundamentals but I see us going forward and getting better."
— Scott Butherus
After committing seven fumbles — losing four of them — in their 14-5 loss to Palmetto Ridge on Friday, Gulf Coast will use the upcoming bye week to focus on ball security.
The Sharks squandered promising opportunities twice in the beginning of the third quarter because of fumbles in the red zone and also cost themselves 78 yards on nine penalties for the game.
"We are going to use (the break) to clean up a lot of the things that we did wrong on Friday," coach Pete Fominaya said. "Our biggest concern right now is holding onto the ball and eliminating the penalties. You can't put yourself in a bad spot like that and expect to win."
Although the off week will enable the team to recuperate from some of their minor bumps and bruises, it won't be enough for two of their key offensive weapons currently dealing with injuries.
Quarterback Zimon Brennan, who suffered a leg injury in the preseason, and running back Brandon Mullings, who injured his shoulder in Week 1, remain questionable to return for the team's game against Naples in two weeks.
"Nothing has changed with them," Fominaya said. "We've got a really good training staff here so hopefully we will get them back soon."
— Scott Butherus
Immokalee lived and died by its special teams Friday in a 55-29 loss at Naples.
The Indians led 7-6 four minutes in thanks to a 93-yard kickoff return by J.C. Jackson. Immokalee lost its lead and control of the game in the second quarter because of two special teams miscues.
Naples scored two touchdowns in 2 minutes, 16 seconds in the second quarter after a pair of botched Immokalee punts. Both times, bad snaps led to fumbles, and gave Naples a short field. The Golden Eagles started both drives inside the Indians' 10-yard line.
Immokalee's second touchdown also came on a special teams play. On fourth down and goal with four minutes left in the second quarter, the Indians lined up for a 25-yard field goal. After the snap, holder Tshumbi Johnson, the team's starting quarterback, scrambled right and hit Jacky Marcellus on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Friday was the second week in a row to start the season that the Indians have had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
— Adam Fisher
Coach Stacey Stewart couldn't decide on what set the tone for the Trojans thrashing of Cypress Lake, 33-0, just that "we continue to improve each day on fundamentals and teamwork."
It was Stewart's first win against one loss as the new coach.
He said the team learned from the Cypress Lake game and that "we are making big strides each week. We are learning from our mistakes and playing with more confidence."
His early thoughts on the game at Cape Coral on Friday.
"Cape Coral is very athletic; they look dangerous (on film)," he said.
— Roger LaLonde
MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY
After a week without a game, coach Andy Delgado's Manta Rays host St. John Neumann's JV team for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday at Winterberry Park.
During the time off Delgado and coaches concentrated on offensive line work. In the season opener against Oasis Charter, the Manta Rays had but 70 total yards.
"As a team we reviewed fundamentals, execution and assignments," Delgado said.
Delgado was pleased that three more have joined the roster, giving the team 29 players.
— Roger LaLonde
The Golden Eagles went into Week 2 knowing they couldn't air it out much against an Immokalee team that featured four defensive backs who should play college football next year.
The few times Naples did throw the ball, the Eagles had success. Junior quarterback Kilton Anderson attempted five passes and connected on three, including two big ones. He finished with 123 yards and a touchdown.
Anderson hit freshman Tyler Byrd streaking down the right sideline in the second quarter Friday. Byrd fought off Indians defensive back J.C. Jackson and broke several tackles on the 83-yard touchdown catch. A holding call at the 11-yard line brought back the score, and made the catch officially 72 yards.
Anderson also had a big completion to help seal the victory. After Immokalee scored to get within 12 points in the fourth quarter, Anderson's 60-yard touchdown bomb to Garrett Zech stole any momentum the Indians might have had.
"We were able to create some things with our passing game," Naples coach Bill Kramer said. "Kilton didn't throw it a bunch, but threw it really well."
— Adam Fisher
New Bears coach Ryan Mitchell is relieved to get that first win under his belt even if it wasn't the prettiest of victories.
"It was awesome. I'm very proud of all of them," Mitchell said. "It is exciting when the boys are able to go out and do what you aske them to do. The win was just a bonus."
Mitchell attributes some of the sloppiness – including four lost fumbles - in their 14-5 win over Gulf Coast to players and coaches still becoming acclimated to the new systems.
"We are still learning. We are still trying to mesh as a staff and the players are still getting used to what we expect from them," Mitchell said.
Despite going just 3-for-12 passing for six total yards, Mitchell said he has no plans to replace starting quarterback Sean Hatch.
"He's not doing anything wrong. He's going to be, and has been, a big part of our offense," Mitchell said. "We just had a couple of routes that we should have been able to make the play on but didn't. We had seven or eight passes that we dropped."
— Scott Butherus
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
St. John Neumann will not be caught slacking during this week's practice with Community School looming on Friday night.
"We went a little longer (in practice) than we normally do," Celtics coach Steve Howey said. "This is a game we really want to win. I believe the players don't mind putting in the extra time."
The team worked on all three phases of the game on Monday, and they spent time reviewing game tape of Community School.
Offensively, the Celtics will continue to use what has worked for them. Quarterbacks Tylor Dimond and Cameron Joyce have both been given opportunities on the field during practice this week, and they are both expected to play on Friday night.
— Ryan Toohey
SOUTH FORT MYERS
Jayron Kearse, a four-star ESPN athlete in this senior class who last month committed to Clemson over a couple dozen other high-profile programs, has found his niche at South Fort Myers after transferring from Cypress Lake.
Like his uncle, former Florida Gators and Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse, Jayron is a bit of a freak. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder plays quarterback, receiver and safety for the Wolfpack, who continue to utilize him as much as possible in this lone South season.
In Friday night's 49-0 home win against East Lee County, Kearse opened the first possession at quarterback in South's Wildcat formation. He broke off runs of 18 and 17 yards that looked silly as it took at least a half-dozen Jaguars to finally stop the pile from moving forward. That drive ended in the end zone with a 2-yard Jack Kelly plunge.
East Lee County was truly Kearse-d. He added an 11-yard rushing touchdown — he carried seven times for 80 yards — and completed his only pass for a 10-yard gain. Kearse also caught an Andrew Dailidonis toss for 20 yards.
"He gives us a great run threat in the Wildcat and gives us a big receiver who can get after it," South coach Grant Redhead said.
Defensively Kearse was, well, everywhere. His ferocious sack of Winfred Ward resulted in a fumble and South recovery. He even had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, but it was called back because a teammate celebrated as Kearse neared the end zone.
"Defensively, he's phenomenal," Redhead said. "His football IQ is pretty high."
Oh, and he's also a fantastic teammate.
"He's evolved into a team leader," Redhead said. "He takes a lot on his shoulders and performs. He doesn't talk a lot, just does it. He's doing a great job for us."
— Dana Caldwell