Led by a devastating defense, Mariner shined under the Saturday morning light, defeating Estero 19-0 at Tony McKenna Field.
The game had originally been scheduled for Friday night, but, like all other games in the county, was called on account of lightning.
Regardless of the conditions, the Tritons (1-0) looked in mid-season form.
“The things that we’re talking about and teaching these kids, they’re actually taking it to heard,” Mariner coach Travis Smith said. “You can see that these kids are growing into young men and they know that it’s business time when we get out here.”
The defense started its season with a dominant shutout performance, with 14 tackles for a loss, eight forced fumbles, four sacks, two interceptions, a goal-line stand and a safety. The Wildcats (0-1) were kept out of the Mariner side of the field for almost the entire first half.
“They were animals out there, and it’s great to see that,” Smith said. “We brought back some spunk on defense.”
Jarvis Gollman caught both of the Mariner interceptions, the first of which was particularly disheartening for Estero. Wildcats defender Jon Rauss picked off a Cairo Jeunegens pass — the Mariner quarterback’s only major mistake of the game — and ran it 48 yards, putting Estero at the Mariner 31. But Gollman picked off Phil Setterquist’s pass on the second play of the drive, giving the Tritons back the ball in the closing seconds of the first half.
Gollman’s second pick was the more athletically impressive. In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had the ball again at the Mariner 40. Setterquist’s throw up the middle was low, but Gollman dove to catch it at the 35.
With the exception of his interception, Jeunegens played an effective game, completing 11 of 19 passes for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. His first pass — a light screen to Johnathan Charles — turned out to be the biggest, as Charles rushed through the crowd and broke free for a 69-yard touchdown.
The safety came later in the first quarter, when the ball was snapped into the end zone and bounced out of bounds, giving Mariner a 9-0 lead.
Junior kicker Andrew Kibler made it 12-0 in the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal.
A lost Estero fumble in the third quarter provided Mariner another opportunity, giving them the ball deep in Wildcats territory. On the third play, Juenegens threw a 12-yard pass to Christopher Ramsey for a touchdown.
Charles, a sophomore, was the Tritons’ leading tailback, serving as a double threat in rushing and receiving. He caught 5 passes for 84 yards and rushed for 24 yards on 8 carries.
“He has definitely emerged as our starting tailback,” Smith said. “Geo (Garcia) is going to get a lot of the power back type heavy carries when we need short yardage.”
Setterquist went 3-for-10 in passing for 40 yards. His best pass was in the third quarter, a throw on the run after being flushed out of the pocket. He found Carlos Phillips, who completed the 17-yard pass. Willie Neal was Estero’s leading rusher with 4 carries for 23 yards.
MARINER 19, ESTERO 0
E 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 – 0
M 9 | 3 | 7 | 0 – 19
M: Johnathan Charles 69 pass from Cairo Jeunegens (Andrew Kibler kick), 11:40
M: Safety, ball snapped into end zone, 8:52
M: Kibler 35 FG, 9:46
M: Christopher Ramsey 12 pass from Jeunegens (Kibler kick), 10:21
Rushing — E, Willie Neal 4-23, Victor Shelly 4-11, Phil Setterquist 15-0, Kyle Flynn 2-(minus 1), Michael Mendez 1-(minus 22); M, Johnathan Charles 8-24, Joseph Lane 1-14, Chance Reiter 3-11, Geovanni Garcia 3-10, Cairo Jeunegens 10-0
Passing — E, Setterquist 3-10-2-40; M, Jeunegens 11-19-1-153.
Receiving — E, Neal 2-23, Carlos Phillips 1-17; M, Johnathan Charles 5-84, Christian Butz 2-29, Christopher Ramsey 2-24, Joseph Lane 2-9, Chance Reiter 1-(minus 5)