What was supposed to be a battle of two of the top runners in the state became a tribute to late Fort Myers coach Sam Sirianni and former defensive coordinator Frank Sirianni.
Over the years, the Green Wave had a knack for shutting down some of the top running backs in the area. In fact, Frank Sirianni’s defense held North Fort Myers head coach Earnest Graham to under 100 yards while he played for Mariner in 1997.
On Friday, which marked Sam Sirianni Day in the city, North back Zaquandre White was added to the list. The Florida State commit was held to 60 rushing yards and fumbled twice under the Green Wave’s pressure in a 37-16 win at Edison Stadium in one of the county’s oldest rivalries.
“We said we weren’t going to run scared from him,” said Fort Myers coach Sammy Sirianni Jr. said, who watched his uncle’s defense hold Graham to 82 yards on 11 carries when he entered the game averaging 17 yards per carry. “They embraced the challenge.”
Fort Myers was coming off a tough 20-14 loss to Palmetto on the road last week.
“We really let them have it in practice this week,” Sirianni said, suggesting that having the water cooler dumped over his head following the win had something to do with that.
North played less than a quarter against Riverdale last week in a game that was ruled a no contest.
Rains soaked the field all day Friday and may not have been conducive to a running game. Fort Myers back Darrian Felix, who was nursing a groin injury, finished with 56 yards on 14 carries and finally broke through with a 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“I think us and North both had the same idea against the backs,” Sirianni Jr. said. “Corral them before they really get going.”
Senior Ben Stobaugh took most of the snaps at quarterback for Felix and finished 7-for-12 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions.
North (0-1) never really got into any rhythm after two early turnovers turned into Green Wave points.
Fort Myers (1-1) capitalized on a White fumble in the first quarter. Felix then found Milan Tucker on a fade on third-and-18 and Xavier Perez punched it in from one yard out.
After Ben Pogue was picked off to end the quarter, Stobaugh dropped back to pass and pulled it down at the North 10, diving into the end zone to make it 14-0. Stobaugh targeted freshman Yasias Young for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 3:48 left in the half.
Trailing 21-0 at halftime North got on the board in the third after Joe Wilkins caught one of his two touchdown passes. He had a game-high five catches for 97 yards.
A safety and Bensley Bornelus’ touchdown reception put the game away in the fourth.
FORT MYERS 37, NORTH FORT MYERS 16
NFM 0 0 8 8—16
FM 7 14 8 8—37
FM – Xavier Perez 1 run (Chris Heidt kick), 2:47
FM – Ben Stobaugh 10 run (Heidt kick), 10:43
FM – Yasias Young 45 pass from Stobaugh (Heidt kick), 3:48
NFM – Joe Wilkins 41 pass from Ben Pogue (Luis Alfonso run), 6:49
FM – Safety, intentional grounding in the end zone, 0:01
FM – Bensley Bornelus 25 pass from Stobaugh (Heidt kick), 10:27
FM – Darrian Felix 20 run (Heidt kick), 5:16
NFM – Wilkins 17 pass from Nick Perez (Fa’Najae Gotay run), 2:46
Rushing – NFM, Zaquandre White 14-60, Fa’Najae Gotay 1-2, Luis Alfonso 1-2, Hunter Kobylanski 1-(minus-2), Nick Perez 3-(minus-15), Ben Pogue 4-(minus-18); FM, Darrian Felix 14-56, Ben Stobaugh 5-24, Xavier Perez 13-17, Rolf Julmisse 3-13, Dawson Degroot 1-5, Yasias Young 5-0, Milan Tucker 1-(minus-1).
Passing – NFM, Pogue 10-20-1-1 137, Perez 5-11-1-1 74; FM, Stobaugh 7-12-2-2 189, Felix 2-3-0-0 26.
Receiving – NFM, Joe Wilkins 5-97, Zaquandre White 1-42, Garrett Morgan 3-33, Luis Alfonso 4-33, Herb Riggins 2-6; FM, Tucker 2-66, Degroot 2-64, Young 1-45, Bensley Bornelus 3-37, Felix 1-3