One of the most accomplished Fort Myers High School football teams continued with the accolades Wednesday.
Five members of a Green Wave team that went 10-0 during the regular season and finished with a 12-1 record signed their letters of intent for colleges and celebrated those signatures with family, friends and coaches.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Fort Myers coach Sam Sirianni Jr., who said he expected a handful of other senior players to sign before the end of the signing period.
“It’s a special class,” Sirianni said. “They accomplished a lot on the field. It’s a special day.”
Wide receiver James Brunson (Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton), defensive back George Davis (Marshall University), defensive tackle Ryan Watts (Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.) and linebacker Levi McQuinn and tight end Sam Turner (Air Force Academy) signed their real letters in the morning, prior to the ceremony.
Margaret Sirianni, left, congratulates Fort Myers High School’s Sam Turner after he signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at Fort Myers High School. Turner signed to play football at the United States Air Force Academy.
The football players were flanked by baseball pitcher Kevin Mitchell (Ave Maria), softball pitcher and outfielder Stephanie Norris (South Florida Community College in Avon Park), girls soccer player Bailey Pombrio (FAU) and boys soccer players Collin Hetherinton (Southeastern University in Lakeland) and Ben Cook (Jacksonville University).
The record-setting Pombrio will be joined at FAU by her senior classmate Brunson, a record-setting wide receiver.
Pombrio finished her Green Wave career a school record 134 goals.
“She didn’t care about the goals,” said Fort Myers girls soccer coach David Trepkowski, whose team had an 18-3-5 record. “It wasn’t about her as an individual. She cared about the team. The only reason she broke the record is because the seniors pushed her to do it.”
Brunson set a single-season, school record with 765 receiving yards. He verbally committed to James Madison in mid-January but wanted to honor a previously scheduled trip to FAU.
Going on that trip changed Brunson’s mind.
“I just fell in love with the campus,” Brunson said. “They just got a $16 million donation for their athletic facilities. They are on the up and up.
“I love this senior class. We told ourselves when we were freshmen that we were going to make history. Thank God that we did.”
Turner, who gained national attention in the fall when he was issued a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after praying in the end zone following a touchdown, thanked God as well.
“Before the season, I asked God, ‘If you want me to play Division I football, just give me one offer.’ The campus is just beautiful, and the classrooms are full of students who just want to be the best.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Turner, who just turned 17 on Jan. 21 and was the youngest senior on the football team, likely would have had numerous offers had he been a year older, Sirianni said.
“It’s definitely going to be tough, because I’m so much younger,” Turner said. “At the same time, I’m going to have so much more room to grow. If I work hard enough, I can get up to their level.”
McQuinn, also 17, turns 18 on March 5. He had a handful of offers prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury just before the postseason began.
Then, his offers dwindled. Air Force stuck with him.
“It made me realize how quickly sports can be taken away from you,” McQuinn said. “And it really showed me that they wanted me.
“Before the knee injury, I knew they were there, but I didn’t really dive into it until after I got hurt. I couldn’t be happier. It’s the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Davis will become the first Green Wave player in Sirianni Jr.’s coaching tenure to play at Marshall, the alma mater of Sirianni Sr., who coached the Green Wave program for 33 years and died from cancer in 2002.
“I like everything about Marshall,” Davis said. “I feel honored and blessed to play on the same field Randy Moss played on.”
Davis said he grew up rooting for Moss, who played wide receiver in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots.
“He’s one of the greats,” said Davis, who chose Marshall over Western Kentucky and Cincinnati.
Watts said he was thrilled to sign with Catawba, a Division II program.
“What really caught my attention were the teachers and the coaches,” Watts said. “When I went up there, I felt like I was at home.”
Norris said the same of her new softball program at South Florida Community College. She said she had considered the upstart Florida SouthWestern State College team but wanted to get away from home.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Norris said. “It’s not a super-big school, and I felt at home there. I know a lot of the players there.”
Mitchell, who is catholic, said he was thrilled staying near home at Ave Maria, a Catholic university.
“I knew right away that I loved it,” Mitchell said.
Hetherington, who scored six goals for the Green Wave soccer team, said he looked forward to the college atmosphere.
“I’m looking forward to training hard and being ready to play,” Hetherington said. “I’m going to have to up my game a little bit.”
Cook, who scored 11 goals for the Green Wave soccer team, said Jacksonville University offered everything he wanted for both sports and academics.
Cook said he intended on majoring in marine engineering, with the eventual career goal of designing off-shore oil rigs.
“I feel prepared going on to the next level,” Cook said.
Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (Facebook), @DavidADorsey (Twitter).Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (Facebook) @DavidADorsey (Twitter).