* Teams: Evangelical Christian, First Baptist, Imagine School, Marco Island Charter, Moore Haven, St. John Neumann, Southwest Florida Christian
* Outlook: First Baptist (12-1) dominated this district in 2012 and is likely to do so again, albeit in a different style. The Lions lost 86 percent of their offensive production from a team that averaged 41.9 points per game last season. However, nine starters are back from a defense that surrendered just 13.6 points per game and shut out three of its then-district foes (including Moore Haven and Southwest Florida Christian). Aside from its 14-0, season-opening loss to First Baptist, Moore Haven (9-2) swept through the district and should be considered the leading runner-up contender again although St. John Neumann (7-3) could challenge as well.
* Dark horse: North Port Imagine: the first-year varsity program boasts solid skill-position talent.
* Long shots: Evangelical Christian (2-8), Southwest Florida Christian (4-6), Marco Island Charter (first full varsity season)
* Predicted order of finish: 1. First Baptist, 2. Moore Haven, 3. St. John Neumann, 4. Imagine School, 5. Southwest Florida Christian, 6. Evangelical Christian, 7. Marco Island Charter
2012 Record: 2-8Coach: Tyler GoldPlayers to watch: Brady Borkowski (Sr., LB/WR), Caleb Chapman (Sr., QB/DB), Riley Escalle (Sr., WR/DB), Garrett Lee (SR., DB), Steven Lochard (Sr., RB/LB), Carson Pearlman (Jr., WR/DB), Tim Phillips (Sr., TE/DE)Outlook: Coming off their worst season since their varsity program debuted in 1998, the Sentinels have a new coach in Gold, who was elevated to replace Brian Lynch, who retired after 10-plus seasons at ECS. Chapman returns under center for the Sentinels but the offense lacks playmakers. The defense should be better than the unit that allowed 36.8 points per game last year but in a top-heavy district, a return to the state playoffs is a longshot.
2012 Record: 12-1Coach: Billy SparacioPlayers to watch: Dillon Brocious (Sr., LB), Jack Bueltel (Fr., QB), Tyler Dean (So., QB/S), Benji Ritter (Sr., WR/DB), Christian Rodriguez (Jr., RB/DB), Seth Penner (Jr., OL/DL), Kody Van Duser (Sr., WR/DB), Zach Williams (Jr., FB/LB)Outlook: The Lions lost 14 seniors from last year’s Class 2A state semifinalist, taking with them 86 percent of the team’s offensive production. After rushing for 344 yards per game in 2012, First Baptist is transitioning to more of a passing attack to fit Bueltel and Dean, who are battling for the starting job. Defensively, the Lions return five of their top seven leading tacklers from a unit that allowed just 13 points per game. Ritter and Van Duser are ballhawks who combined for 10 interceptions. This is a program that’s moving toward being an annual 2A title contender.
Southwest Florida Christian
2012 Record: 4-6Coach: Mark AckermanPlayers to watch: Terrance DeAvila (Jr., QB), Noah Huxley (Sr., DL), Corey Jones (Jr., OL), Michael Lobbestael (So., DB), Tyler Manes (Sr., LB), Whit Wiggins (Sr., DL)Outlook: In search of their first winning season in the program’s five-year history, the Kings returning 17 lettermen from last season’s squad, including eight starters on each side of the ball. Southwest Florida Christian will look to Wiggins and Huxley (12 combined sacks in 2012) to pressure opposing quarterbacks and shut down the run game. DeAvila (1,039 total yards of offense) returns as the team’s starter under center and should improve on last season’s output. With the school introducing its inaugural junior varsity squad and opening an on-campus home field, the Kings are constructing a program that should continue to improve.
St. John Neumann
2012 Record: 7-3Coach: Steve HoweyPlayers to watch: John Augustin (Sr., RB/DB), Brian Davenport (Sr., LB), Tylor Dimond (Sr., QB),Cameron Joyce (Sr., QB), Solomon Obidiegwu (Sr., WR/DB), Liam Pembroke (Sr., G/DT), Ray Ray Perry (Sr., WR/DB) Outlook: The Celtics were a statistical powerhouse in 2012, averaging 36.6 points per game while their defense allowed just 14, while holding four opponents to seven points or fewer. However, close district losses to First Baptist and Moore Haven kept St. John Neumann out of the state playoffs. Augustin will lead a run-heavy attack, while Dimond and Joyce battle for the starting quarterback job. Davenport and Perry lead an athletic defense. While First Baptist again looks to be the class of District 2A-6, the Celtics will challenge for the runner-up spot.