The Marco Island Academy football team enjoyed camaraderie and great atmosphere in a gridiron battle in Texas, but eventually lost a see-saw contest before a huge crowd.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” head coach Greg Fowler said of his charter high school team that raced to a 14-0 lead over Edgewood before finally succumbing to their Texas hosts 41-28 Friday night.
Fowler said his charges weren’t intimidated by a crowd of 3,000 partisan fans who showed up to watch Edgewood tangle with the Marco Island team.
“I would say we were excited, not nervous,” Fowler said. “It was a great game. It was a great atmosphere. It was awesome. It was a little bit up and down, but it was a great atmosphere. We got up early and their crowd was quiet. When they came back it got real loud. It was a battle all night. It was a fun game to be a part of. It was great. There were about 3,000 in attendance. It was a good experience. We jumped on ‘em early.”
Patrick Michel had a career game against Edgewood, rushing 10 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Michel also picked up a fumble and scored from 23 yards out.
“Patrick Michel averaged 11.9 yards per carry,” Fowler said. “That’s a pretty big deal. He had an awesome first game. Couldn’t ask more from him.”
Michel’s fumble recovery put the Rays up 14-0 in the first quarter. But things changed quickly.
“The turning point,” Fowler said, “we were up 14-0 and gave up a 70-yard kick return. That kind of changed the momentum. We got complacent for a couple of plays and next thing you know it was 14-14. The turning point was that big kick return.”
Fowler was encouraged by his team’s rushing effort.
“We rushed for 201 yards. Overall we played we played well on offense.”
Fowler’s son, Andrew, a junior quarterback, was solid with16 completions in 29 attempts for 119 yards. Fowler also led the Rays with six tackles on defense.
Fowler was encouraged about the way his team continued to fight throughout the game.
“We kept battling all night. The kids are working hard this year. I’m very impressed with their attitude toward this season,” the coach said. “Hopefully the kids will gel and it will all come together for us. I think we’re going to be in every game this year.”
The Rays host Lake Highland Prep, a 4A school from Orlando, Friday at 7 p.m. They’re a formidable foe.
“Lake Highland won 54-28 last week,” Fowler said. “They’re pretty good. It will be a good test for us. They play some good teams and they are a good team.”
Fowler feels the Rays’ success hinges on the play of his defense.
“Our defense, which I thought was the highlight of the spring game, struggled a bit (against Edgewood). It’s going to be one of those years where if the defense is on we’re going to be great. You always count on your defense to do the job. When they’re having a good night we’re going to win ball games. When they struggle we’re going to struggle to win ball games. We just have to go out and do what we do. If we do what we do, winning will take care of itself. We’re just trying to do the best we can and get better every week.”