Spring football: What you need to know

Spring football: What you need to know

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Spring football: What you need to know

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Zaquandre White

Zaquandre White

KINFAY MOROTI/THE NEWS-PRESS Island Coast High School head coach Wayne Blair pleads his case to an official during a game against Fort Myers earlier in the season at Fort Myers High School. KINFAY MOROTI/THE NEWS-PRESS.. Island Coast High School head coach Wayne Blair leads his team against Fort Myers earlier in the season at Fort Myers High School.

KINFAY MOROTI/THE NEWS-PRESS Island Coast High School head coach Wayne Blair pleads his case to an official during a game against Fort Myers earlier in the season at Fort Myers High School. KINFAY MOROTI/THE NEWS-PRESS.. Island Coast High School head coach Wayne Blair leads his team against Fort Myers earlier in the season at Fort Myers High School.

South Florida Sun Sentinel Island Coast football coach Rashad West resigned his position after less than a month on the job. fl-football-western21g -- Western head coach Rashad West instructs his players against Everglades during the second half of their game, Friday, September 21, 2012. Michael Laughlin, South Florida Sun Sentinel

South Florida Sun Sentinel Island Coast football coach Rashad West resigned his position after less than a month on the job. fl-football-western21g — Western head coach Rashad West instructs his players against Everglades during the second half of their game, Friday, September 21, 2012. Michael Laughlin, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Fort Myers, which will have a young team this season, is counting on junior Darrian Felix (6) to be its next big offensive threat.

Fort Myers, which will have a young team this season, is counting on junior Darrian Felix (6) to be its next big offensive threat.

Canterbury is one of several schools moving on with a new head coach this season.

Canterbury is one of several schools moving on with a new head coach this season.

As the temperature rises, the humidity saunters and the snowbirds vanish, spring football peeks its head in Southwest Florida. Monday marks the beginning of the next 20 days of evaluation for local high schools as they prepare for their annual spring games and jamborees in May. The FHSAA restricts high school programs to a total of 20 sessions during May or the last 20 days of the school year, which means that area teams need to pick a few things to work on and move on as they prepare for the incoming summer period and fall practice. It’s been a busy offseason for the Southwest Florida football scene, as graduation will leave teams in dire need of new talent, coaching moves will force transitions and a potential bombshell from the Florida House of Representatives and Senate could drastically shift the power of high school sports in the state. High school sports writers Adam Regan and Cory Mull deliver on your eight need-to-know storylines for the spring.

Former Cypress Lake High School head football coach Dale More is taking over the successful Immokalee program this season.

Former Cypress Lake High School head football coach Dale More is taking over the successful Immokalee program this season.


1. New coaches: The spring will be a time of transition for more than a handful of new programs, including Immokalee, which hired Dale More to be the program’s third head coach in six seasons. The Indians records in those six season? 41-22.

No place is harder to earn your keep than Immokalee, but others, like Estero, Island Coast, Canterbury, Lehigh, Palmetto Ridge and St. John Neumann are also moving on with new coaches.

The last three schools all hired first-time head coaches, and at Lehigh, all eyes will be on James Chaney, a North Fort Myers grad who attended Florida State University.

Island Coast, coming off a 10-3 season, has holes to fill with several seniors set for graduation. And it has an even a bigger vacancy — that being at head coach.

Island Coast, coming off a 10-3 season, has holes to fill with several seniors set for graduation. And it has an even a bigger vacancy — that being at head coach.

2. Gator chomp: Normally a team coming off a 10-3 season and a trip to a regional final spends spring practice trying to fill holes on the field left by standout seniors. While that is the case at Island Coast, the Gators are still in search of the most important piece — a head coach.

After Wayne Blair resigned his position in January, former Coral Spring coach Rashad West was announced as his successor only to make his exit after less than a month on the job. Offensive coordinator Greg Coleman will act as the interim coach during spring practice.

3. Eagles in flight: Naples High will be a hot spot for college coaches this spring. The Eagles sport two top-tier talents in cornerback Tyler Byrd and running back Carlin Fils-Aime.

Byrd, a four-star recruit, has already demonstrated a flair for the dramatic, flipping his verbal commitment from Florida to Miami the day before Signing Day this year and could still be in play for other schools. Fils-Aime is drawing interest from most of the SEC, ACC and Big Ten and his recruitment could reach another level this spring.

4. Wins above replacement: Fort Myers, which raced through a 10-0 regular season, will have its hands full trying to find replacements for big-play talents like Terrance Moore, James Brunson and Levi McQuinn. But so will Island Coast, who is without its secondary star Ryan Pulley and running back Van Edwards.

Ida Baker is moving on without three-year starter Sage Attwood, and Naples is tasked with finding another multidimensional weapon leading the offense, ala Michael Walker. Cape Coral, which won nine games, is also without senior Dylan Bontrager.

South Fort Myers, which won 10 games a season ago, will move on from Kent State signee Antwan Dixon and North Fort Myers is without Marlon Gonzalez.

5. Who’s got talent: To some programs, those answers may not be so hard to find. North Fort Myers, which went 5-6 in head coach Earnest Graham’s debut, has Florida State University junior verbal commit Zaquandre White in its backfield, not to mention University of South Carolina defensive gem Mi’Carlio Stanley.

Fort Myers may have found it’s next Brunson with junior receiver Darrian Felix, who has picked up offers from Miami, Florida Atlantic and Indiana. And South Fort Myers could have its next Dixon in the hands of receiver Willie Johnson, who was a first-team all-area pick last season.

6. Greenies youth: Fort Myers turned in its most successful season in recent memory when it finished 12-1 and made a regional final. However, coach Sammy Sirianni Jr. hasn’t missed an opportunity this offseason to mention the challenges his young team will face.

This spring will be crucial in developing underclassmen as they are inserted into crucial positions this fall. The Green Wave’s spring game May 22 at Island Coast will be a good test.

7. Let there be light: May 29 is a day most in the Southwest Florida Christian Academy community have waited a few years for.

The Kings will experience Friday night lights for the first time during their spring game against LaBelle. SFCA, which finished 5-4 last season, received a substantial donation to install lights on the football/soccer field in March.

8. Road trip: Last year, it was First Baptist Academy which not only went on the road, but out of state to face Arkansas program Shiloh Christian in Week 3.

Now it’s Marco Island Academy’s turn to face middle-of-nowhere Edgewood High in the eastern part of Texas. Marco went 4-6 a season ago, and over the last three seasons has improved in the win column.

In 2013, Immokalee traveled to Maryland to face Our Lady of Good Counsel in a non-conference game, making it three straight years a region school has taken to the road to face an out-of-state opponent.

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