The Golden Eagles, who are ranked No. 11 in the country, survived a test against Estero, winning 3-2 over the Wildcats in a physical game. Fort Myers News-Press
Although the regular season still has a few games remaining, the seeding for the upcoming district playoffs have been set.
The Naples boys enter the playoffs as the No. 3 team overall across all classifications, and the Golden Eagles (16-1-1) are also the top seed in the upcoming Class 5A-District 12 tournament in Estero. Lely (17-2-1) is ranked 18th overall according to the MaxPreps rankings, and the Trojans are seeded second in 5A-12. Naples travels to Lely on Friday night for the rivals’ second meeting of the season. The Golden Eagles won 2-1 in the first meeting Dec. 6. Naples and Lely will have first-round byes in the district tournament, which starts Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Community School holds the top seed in Class 2A-District 12, followed by St. John Neumann. That tournament begins Monday, Feb. 3.
Palmetto Ridge is the fifth seed in Class 6A-District 8, with that tournament beginning Tuesday, Feb. 3. Gulf Coast is the third seed in Class 7A-District 13, and that tournament begins Monday at Miami-Western.
More High School Insider: Youth being served for Palmetto Ridge wrestling program
On the girls side, Marco Island Academy earned a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. The Manta Rays are atop the Class 2A-District 12 standings and will receive a first-round bye along with First Baptist Academy. That tournament begins Monday, Feb. 3, at the site of the higher seed.
In Class 5A-District 12, Naples receives a first-round bye along with top seed Estero. The Golden Eagles (10-2-1) are ranked 70th overall in the state, the only Collier County team to land in the top 100. The 5A-12 tournament begins Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Palmetto Ridge is seeded third in Class 6A-District 8, with that tournament kicking off Friday, Jan. 31 at the site of the higher seed. Gulf Coast is seeded fourth in Class 7A-District 12, and that tournament begins Monday at Miami-Western.
Gibbs leads Team Japan to upset win at International Bowl
When PJ Gibbs took on the challenge of coaching Team Japan at the International Bowl, he knew his team would be decided underdogs against the United States.
He and his coaching staff worked diligently to find ways to offset the Americans’ size and speed advantage, and the Japanese players bought into what the coaches were instructing.
The result? Japan pulled off a 28-20 upset win last week at AT&T Stadium – home of the Dallas Cowboys. It marked the first time a team from Japan had beaten a U.S. national team in the 12-year history of the event.
“First off, you have to give all the credit to the kids – they bought in from day one and really embraced what we were doing,” the Palmetto Ridge defensive coordinator said. “We knew going in (the Americans) would be bigger and more athletic. From a defensive perspective, our main goal was to not give up big plays and always make the quarterback make a difficult throw.”
Gibbs’ staff included several coaches he knew from his playing and coaching days in New Jersey – including four who worked under his high school coach Vic Kubu. The staff also included Gulf Coast defensive coordinator Larry Capasso and North Fort Myers coach Dwayne Mack. Japan also brought coaches to help with the game-planning and serve as translators between the players and American coaches.
“We had a great mix of guys who worked together really well,” Gibbs said. “We knew they had a few college coaches running their offense and defense, so we found film on those colleges and studied what they did. It was a total group effort in getting the kids ready, but they went out and made the plays.”
The United States held a 14-8 lead midway through the second quarter, but Japan held the Americans to two field goals the rest of the way while an uptempo offense went to work.
“I think we caught them a little off guard with our offense,” he said. “One of the ways we could offset some of their size and quickness defensively was to go uptempo and not give them time to adjust.”
Maddy Burt qualifies for Olympic trials
St. John Neumann senior Maddy Burt added to an already impressive resume last weekend, qualifying for the United States Olympic Trials at a pro series event in Knoxville, Tenn.
Swimming in the 200-yard butterfly, Burt finished 11th out of 48 swimmers with a time of 2:14.45 – just eclipsing the qualifying time of 2:14.59. Burt had previously attempted to qualify for the trials twice last year, each time just missing the cut.
“When I’m swimming, I usually feel my tempo and have an idea where I am but you’re never exactly sure,” she said. “I was hoping I got (the time) but I wasn’t expecting it.”
Burt, who committed to the University of Arizona last year, was elated when she had qualified.
“I’ve been working so hard these past six months,” she said. “Just trying to focus on getting in better shape, working on my endurance and my speed. All that hard work definitely paid off.”
Burt won her first state championship in November, claiming gold in the 100 butterfly. She finished second in each of the previous two years in that event, also taking fifth as a freshman. She also has a pair of medals in the 50 free, giving her six overall in four seasons.
The Olympic Trials will be held June 19-28 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Palmetto Ridge's Colby Singletary receives posthumous preferred football walk-on offer from Miami Naples Daily News
Singletary honored at Chase Life Invitational
Palmetto Ridge kicked off the Chase Life Invitational over the weekend by honoring two-time state champion Colby Singletary, who died in a car crash last July.
The Bears raised Singletary’s 2019 195-pound state championship banner to the rafters, alongside his 182-pound banner from the year before.
Palmetto Ridge later crowned a pair of champs in the event – 120-pounder Brennan Van Hoecke and 138-pounder Adrian Ayala. Trillyon Fils-Aime finished second at 220 pounds.
The Bears will face Charlotte High at Osceola High School in Kissimmee in a regional final at 6 p.m. on Friday with the winner staying there to wrestle in the state semifinal and final on Saturday. ...
Palmetto Ridge junior Kamonte Grimespicked up three more Division I offers this week with Cincinnati, Kentucky and Tennessee all joining the pursuit of the four-star wide receiver, according to 247 Sports.
Grimes' growing list of suitors now includes 14 Division I offers — Arkansas, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Liberty, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Southern Miss, Temple, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.