In a Saturday morning showdown between two fast-paced, pass-first offenses, it turned out the Cape Coral High School football team’s defense that made the difference.
Leading by a single point at halftime, the Seahawks (2-0) held Estero to 119 yards and forced three turnovers in the final two quarters, helping Cape pull away for a 35-19 victory.
The Wildcats (1-1) ran a whopping 76 plays, 17 more than the Seahawks, but netted just 292 total yards, or 3.8 per snap.
Estero junior quarterback Cody Long, who tossed six touchdown passes in a lopsided win over Mariner last week, managed just one against Cape Coral, which racked up four sacks and recovered two Long fumbles.
“We changed some schemes up,” Seahawks coach Larry Gary said. “Instead of playing zone, we got the guys to play man, more in your face, to distract the quarterback. That gave us the chance for our front to get more pressure.”
The Wildcats opened the game by driving 79 yards to the Cape 10. But on fourth-and-4, Seahawks senior defensive back Rhasheed Jiles came down with a deflected ball to end the scoring threat.
Estero got the ball right back, when Wildcats senior defensive back Sam Katona picked off Cape junior quarterback Dylan Bontrager and returned the interception 36 yards to the Seahawks 24. Two plays later, Long found senior wide receiver Zimon Brennan, who broke a tackle and raced 25 yards to give Estero a 7-0 lead.
Back-to-back sacks by Cape senior end James Zamor ended the Wildcats’ next drive. The Seahawks capitalized, driving 69 yards in eight plays, capped by a seven-yard scoring pass from Bontrager to sophomore wide receiver C.J. Lewis to tie the game.
After a three-and-out by Estero, Bontrager gave Cape the lead, buying time and finding connecting with junior Rasheen Bailey on a deep ball. Bailey did the rest, outracing the Wildcats secondary for a 92-yard touchdown.
Estero pulled within 14-13 on Long’s 6-yard touchdown run with 1:46 left in the first half, but the final two quarters belonged to Cape Coral.
“Our defense started clicking once they realized it was going to be a battle,” said Bontrager, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 260 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. “It was their job to get the ball back for us and they did that. I’m real proud of them.”
Seahawks senior running back Eamon Smart added 100 rushing yards, 88 coming in the second half, and one touchdown.
One red flag for Cape Coral Saturday was the yellow flag. The Seahawks committed 18 penalties for 129 yards, an area Gary stressed his team needed to quickly correct.
“We go on over to Baker Friday, we’re going to get laughed out of town if we play like that,” said Gary, whose team faces the 2-0 Bulldogs Friday. “We have to clean up our act.”
Estero: Zimon Brennan 25 pass from Cody Long (Marshall Wilson kick)
Cape Coral: C.J. Lewis 7 pass from Dylan Bontrager (Matteo Perez kick)
Cape Coral: Rasheen Bailey 92 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
Estero: Long 6 run (pass failed)
Cape Coral: Eamon Smart 1 run (Perez kick)
Cape Coral: Austin Cole 37 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
Cape Coral: James Castleberry fumble recovery in end zone (Perez kick)
Estero: Brennan 2 run (run failed)