Lely football team hungry for first win of the season

Lely senior Henderson Francois runs the ball against Golden Gate at Lely High School on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.

The Lely football team may be off to an 0-2 start, but coach Fritz Jacques says the Trojans have gotten much better from the preseason to now.

The Trojans will see just how much they’ve improved when they make the trek to Clewiston on Friday night to take on the Tigers in a battle of winless squads.

Lely is coming off a 14-7 loss to Golden Gate. The Titans were missing their top two quarterbacks in Jay Herard and Ryan Magel, which obviously limited what they could do offensively. But Jacques said he saw plenty of improvement overall from the Week 1 33-13 loss to Gulf Coast.

“If one or two things go our way, it’s a totally different game,” Jacques said. “I feel like we just keep getting better each week. Right now, our focus is just getting a win, getting the kids where they need to be Friday (against Clewiston).”

The Tigers (0-3) are struggling this season, losing 24-20 to LaBelle last week in dropping their third straight. Clewiston hadn’t lost to LaBelle since 2007, and the young Tigers squad is desperately in need of some positive momentum. Clewiston graduated 26 seniors from last year’s 4-5 squad and are starting several new players this year, including a few who had never played varsity football before this season.

The Tigers still have Ja’Markis Weston, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver and defensive end already verbally committed to the University of Florida.

“He’s an explosive guy on both sides of the ball, so we’ll be trying to do some things to keep the ball out of his hands on offense,” Jacques said.

With his squad still relatively young on both sides of the ball, Jacques has increased the reps and ramped up the intensity in practices this week.

“We’re going faster with our tempo, giving the guys 300 plays in practice because we need the reps,” he said. “And they’re responding to it. The intensity has been great.”

The coach says his offensive line has improved each week, and he expects junior quarterback Jonis Dieudonne to have a breakout game soon. Senior running back Henderson Francois has been stellar all year, rushing for more than 100 yards in three outings – including a preseason loss to Barron Collier.

“Like I’ve said before, he’s a beast,” Jacques said. “And he almost had another kickoff return for a touchdown last week. Our o-line keeps getting better, and I love our receiving corps. We think it’s just a matter of time before Jonis has a big day throwing the ball. He’s doing a great job running the offense. We think we’re close to putting everything together.”

Jacques says just getting that first win out of the way should do wonders for his team’s confidence.

“Momentum is so important, and the guys have to realize they can’t hang their heads when something goes wrong,” Jacques said. “Just stay in, it keep competing and we’ll be in every game.”