PrepZone: Monday football notebook

Notes on area football teams:

BARRON COLLIER

After spending nearly three decades on the sidelines, Barron Collier coach Dan Pallante doesn't let the highs and lows of the season get to him too much.

"I don't even think about it really. It's my 27th year of coaching football so I've been doing this a long time," he said. "My biggest thing is enjoying the time day-to-day with these kids, and these guys are a great group of kids. The one thing I can say about them is that they work hard every single day and I enjoy coming to practice every day to work with them."

Pallante and the Cougars will have some work ahead of them this week in practice after East Lee exposed the Cougars' over-reliance on running the ball on offense in their 19-13 loss. After the Cougars were able to rack up 151 yards on the ground in the first half, the Jaguars changed their game plan to bring additional players in the box to stop the run, limiting the Cougars to just 30 yards on the ground in the second half. Once the running game was neutralized, the entire offense sputtered when quarterback Carson Klahm and the passing game were unable to move the ball, completing just two passes for 16 yards in the game.

"As long as we keep getting better and the kids come every single day and work, I think we will always have a chance," Pallante added.

— Scott Butherus

COMMUNITY SCHOOL

After playing three hard-fought district games, the Seahawks get a two-week break from district play.

They'll use it to get healthy, as Community School has its share of bumps and bruises.

Already missing running back/defensive lineman Juslin Jean due to a concussion, several of the Seahawks' key players were banged up in Friday's 40-6 loss to St. John Neumann. Running back Ford Ott was in and out of the game with injuries, as was big receiver Dan Paul. Emerson Rowe, one of the Sehawks' big playmakers, missed most of the game after taking a big hit early in the contest.

"We're the walking wounded right now," Seahawks coach Damon Jones. "It will be nice to get out of the district a bit, work on things we need to work on and get healthy for when the district games start again."

Jones saw some positive signs in the second half, despite the lopsided score.

"I told them at halftime, I just want you to compete in the second half and we played them pretty much even in the second half," Jones said. "They competed until the very last minute, which is all you can ask them to do."

Community School hosts Cape Coral-Oasis on Friday night.

— Andy Sodergren

ESTERO

Estero had yet to comfortably distance itself from North Fort Myers on the scoreboard, but Wildcats coach Rich Dombroski didn't mind taking a big risk midway through the second quarter on Friday.

With his team ahead 14-0, Dombroski called for a fake punt on a fourth down and 10 from the Estero 10-yard line.

"(Our) defense was playing well. (North Fort Myers) gave us the opportunity to run that little seam pass. We took a shot," Dombroski said. "You're a genius if it works, and you're a goat if it doesn't."

The fake didn't work as a pass attempt over the middle fell incomplete. Fortunately for Estero, its defense held North to only an ensuing field goal.

"I don't regret it. I'm very happy that the defense kept them to three points rather than the touchdown," said Dombroski, whose team rolled to a 49-13 win.

Due to the Rosh Hashana holiday, Estero wasn't scheduled to practice on Monday. The team's district opener is Friday at East Lee County.

"We won't practice until Tuesday night late. We've got two days to get ready, but so does everybody else in the county," Dombroski said.

— Kevin Johnson

FIRST BAPTIST

Lions coach Billy Sparacio has a welcome problem on his hands that few programs have to worry about at the 2A level — an abundance of capable quarterbacks.

Jonah Bueltel — filling in for regular starter Corey Todd — performed masterfully under center in the Lions' 44-14 win over North Port's Imagine School. The senior rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 112 more yards and a touchdown through the air.

"He did a great job for us," Sparacio said. "He is a great athlete and can do a lot of different things for us."

Bueltel, who usually serves as the team's slot receiver and running back on offense, is expected to start again at quarterback when the Lions (3-0) host district opponent Southwest Florida Christian this Friday. Although Bueltel's strongest asset is his legs, Sparacio points out that his arm can be one as well.

"He has shown he can throw the ball for us when he needs to ... and he handles everything that we ask of him," Sparacio said. "He's very accurate when he throws and he is athletic and can run when we need him to.

Sparacio did not disclose the reason for Todd's absence or how long he would be out. The senior signal caller has college scholarship offers from Charleston Southern and Eastern Illinois. Kicker Grant Scullin also did not play against Imagine School.

— Scott Butherus

GOLDEN GATE

The Titans play another playoff team on Friday when they host Barron Collier. It will be the third straight such opponent Golden Gate has faced, with perennial powerhouse Naples lined up after Barron.

In losing 39-23 to Tampa-Berkeley Prep on Friday, the Titans fell to 0-3 on the season. Despite the quality of opposition Golden Gate has played, Titans coach Mike DiGrigoli isn't making excuses for his team's record.

"We're realistic about the level of competition we're playing," he said. "We're trying to win football games no matter who we play. We're playing tough teams, but we expect a chance to be on top on the scoreboard.

"We're not going to give up. We're scratching and clawing. We have a big game against Barron. We'll make adjustments."

Last year, Golden Gate defeated the Cougars for the first time in the eight-year history of the Titans program.

— Scott Clair

GULF COAST

The Sharks defense has looked much-improved so far this season, but Gulf Coast has its biggest test to date this week.

Gulf Coast held its first two opponents to less than 70 yards of offense each. The Sharks yielded just 61 yards to Palmetto Ridge in Week 2, but failed to score a touchdown in a 14-5 loss.

Now the Sharks face a Naples offense that might be the best in Southwest Florida. The Golden Eagles average 55 points and 452 yards a game, best in the area in both categories. Naples also boasts a stout defense after holding Bishop Verot to 59 yards in a 61-0 win.

Coming off a bye week, Gulf Coast had extra time to prepare for Friday's home game. The Sharks have never beaten Naples (0-14), and only one game in the series has been decided by less than 14 points.

— Adam Fisher

IMMOKALEE

Despite their best offensive output of the season Friday, the Indians say they still have work to do after a 52-7 victory over Palmetto Ridge.

Even after Immokalee's 408-yard performance, the team's offense hasn't been as prolific as it was a year ago. The Indians average 334 yards a game compared to 408 last season.

"We're still not clicking on all cylinders offensively," coach Jerrod Ackley said. "I think tonight we were closer to where we need to be, but we're still not playing the same kind of offensive football that we were last year even this early in the season."

The Indians still are waiting for breakout games from two of their biggest weapons. Xavier Richardson, a 6-foot-3 receiver, has one reception this season for 13 yards. J.C. Jackson, a receiver committed to Florida State, has six catches for 130 yards. The two have just one touchdown between them after combining for 13 last year.

Ackley said he's proud of Richardson and Jackson for not getting upset at their lack of production. Both are making contributions on defense. Richardson returned an interception for a touchdown against Palmetto Ridge, and Jackson did the same in the preseason.

— Adam Fisher

LELY

The Trojans pulled off a 23-22 victory at Cape Coral by showing they could come back.

"I think the win gives our team some confidence by overcoming adversity and mistakes to still come up with a victory," coach Stacey Stewart said.

Stewart credited the offensive line as a key to victory, while his defense also played well,

"We are working hard (on both sides of the ball) and improving each week," he said. "This was definitely a great team win."

The Trojans host North Port on Friday night as part of Homecoming weekend.

"We will watch our film and try to make sure we learn from them," he said.

— Roger LaLonde

MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY

The Manta Rays are off this week since Evangelical Christian is not fielding a junior-varsity team this year. The two teams were scheduled to play at Marco Island Academy on Thursday.

The Manta Rays, who lost to St. John Neumann's JV last week, will play at home against Imagine School of North Port on Friday, Sept. 28. Imagine School lost at First Baptist Academy, 44-14, on Friday.

— Daily News staff

NAPLES

The Golden Eagles offense hasn't missed a beat despite losing a majority of its starters from last season.

After replacing nine starters from last season, Naples has continued to roll through opponents. The Eagles are averaging 55 points and 452 yards a game. If the torrid pace continues, the offense could set a team record for points in a season.

Much of the offense has come from senior Manny Morgan, who continued his hot start in Friday's 61-0 victory over Bishop Verot. With 125 yards and five touchdowns, Morgan has 596 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns in just three games.

Morgan came into the season with 19 career touchdowns and already has a new season high. He's averaging 8.9 yards per carry this year.

While Morgan has gotten the ball in nearly half of Naples plays from scrimmage (43.3 percent), the entire offense has performed well. The Eagles average 8.6 yards per play this year, an impressive number considering Naples quarterbacks have completed just 10 of 27 passes.

— Adam Fisher

PALMETTO RIDGE

A little brotherly love gave Bears running back Ron Johnson the motivation to get his junior season back on track Friday.

Johnson ran for 1,026 yards last year as a sophomore but had just 100 yards total the first two games this season. After just 28 yards against Gulf Coast in Week 2, Johnson had a talk with his brother and former Palmetto Ridge running back Shaquille Hall.

Hall, now a defensive end at Bowling Green, ran for 245 yards against Immokalee in 2010. He challenged his younger brother to try and top his mark. While he didn't beat his brother, Johnson finally had his breakout game with 186 yards."It's been like a brotherly feud," Johnson said. "It starts with the jersey number; we both wear No. 5. Now I want to see if I can beat his record."

Johnson has been hampered by an ankle injury that reduced his carries the first two weeks. The 215-pound bruiser showed no effects from the injury in his 27-carry performance against Immokalee.

"It felt amazing," Johnson said about his ankle after the game. "I had a couple tweaks here and there, but we can say it's 100 percent."

— Adam Fisher

ST. JOHN NEUMANN

The Celtics' 40-6 victory over rival Community School on Friday was certainly a day for the defense.

St. John Neumann held the Seahawks to just 102 yards of total offense, all of those yards coming in the second half.

As the Celtics were building a 33-0 halftime lead, they were constantly putting pressure on Seahawks quarterback Drew Tomaini while blanketing Community School's outside receivers.

The Celtics registered six sacks, including a pair of early takedowns by linebacker Brian Davenport. St. John Neumann also picked off a pair of passes, with RayRay Perry returning one 30 yards for a score.

Community School managed eight first downs, but four came by way of penalty. The Seahawks finally scored in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tomaini to Casey Santos-Ocampo. Prior to that play, the Seahawks' longest completion was a 7-yarder from Tomaini to Johnny Baker. Community School had minus-three yards of total offense in the first half.

— Andy Sodergren

SOUTH FORT MYERS

With a defense that has absolutely smothered its foes, an offense that can go pro-style with steady senior Andrew Dailidonis at quarterback or freak athlete Jayron Kearse directing from the Wildcat and a host of talented receivers, things have been clicking along smoothly for undefeated South Fort Myers.

After pummeling their first two foes — Cypress Lake and East Lee County — by a combined score of 86-0, the Wolfpack got past a game Lightning team, 17-6, at Lehigh on Friday night.

One thing missing from the Wolfpack arsenal, though, is a go-to running back.

"We've got running back by committee," Redhead said. "We've got a ton of them and we just try to keep fresh legs in there."

Four South running backs got carries Friday night and six had them the week prior. But their numbers have been fairly pedestrian. For instance, junior D'Ronzijah Matthews led South running backs with 15 yards (and a touchdown) on six carries at Lehigh. South running backs carried 16 times Friday for a combined 43 yards.

Meanwhile, Kearse, a senior who transferred from Cypress Lake before this season, again led South with 86 yards on 10 carries. And Dailidonis was the Wolfpack's second-leading rusher with 29 yards on seven carries.

Redhead doesn't seem overly concerned, but he'd like one of his running backs to really emerge, particularly this week when the Wolfpack open Class 6A-District 11 play at Bishop Verot.

"If somebody's got a hot hand, we'll just keep feeding him," Redhead said. "We did all right. We need to do better."

— Dana Caldwell

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