Week 1 high school football previews, rankings

Week 1 high school football previews, rankings

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Week 1 high school football previews, rankings

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Game of the Week

E'Quan Dorris and South Fort Myers host Island Coast in Week 1.

E’Quan Dorris and South Fort Myers host Island Coast in Week 1.

Island Coast at South Fort Myers

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for – IC: The Gators begin their second season under former South defensive coordinator John Schwochow with a tall order. This one wasn’t close last season as the Wolfpack accounted for 298 yards on the ground in a 33-10 victory. With senior quarterback Kory Curtis and playmakers like receiver Marlon Gaymon around him, the question won’t be whether the Gators can score with the Wolfpack, but if a defense, which gave up nearly 42 points per game last season, can put together some stops.

Island Coast helmet

Island Coast helmet

South: The fallout from South coach Anthony Dixon’s suspension could makes this matchup a bit more interesting. Matthew Holderfield has taken over on an interim basis and is looking to continue what Dixon started. How the players, who have adamantly supported Dixon over the last two weeks, react to playing without him for the first time is up in the air. Will it be a rallying call that provides them with needed motivation or will the pressure to win for Dixon be too much?

South Fort Myers High

South Fort Myers High

Game Previews

Cape Coral at Sarasota

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for – Cape: Seahawks coach Larry Gary said his squad has a chance to surprise Southwest Florida this season. It starts with a Week 1 road trip against a team it beat 28-21 last season. The teams combined for 37 points in the fourth quarter with Maurice Flournoy’s 48-yard touchdown being the deciding score. Without Flournoy, who transferred to South, this season, the Seahawks will rely on running back Isaac Washington, who rushed for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Sarasota: The Sailors, who went 4-6 last season, are seeking the program’s first winning season since 2006. Sophomore Bryan Gagg is taking over at quarterback and will be on a bit of a learning curve early. Coach Brian Ryals will look to his defense to carry the load early on.

Cypress Lake at North Port

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for – Cypress: The rebuilding of the Panthers’ program begins under first-year coach Richie Rode this week. Serving as the team’s offensive coordinator, Rode installed the Wing-T offense which is designed to grind out first downs and cut down on the possessions of some of the area’s quick, high-scoring offenses. The Panthers don’t return a lot of starters on either side of the ball so it could be tough sledding early in the season. North Port: Coming off a 2-8 2015 campaign, the Bobcats hung with Lehigh in an 18-7 loss in the preseason last week despite giving up a ton of yards. The offense returns leading rusher Octavious Cummings and leading receiver C.K. Poulos.

Weather wreaks havoc with preseason football games

Palmetto Ridge at Lehigh

Time: 7 p.m.

What to watch for – PR: Bears coach Chris Toukonen’s team is coming off an 8-3 season that included a first-round playoff loss to Fort Myers. “Lehigh is a good team,” he said. “They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. We’re looking to get better on offense.” Palmetto Ridge lost to Ida Baker 15-14 last week in the preseason game, on a last-minute, two-point conversion after leading 14-7. “Any time you lose a game like that to Ida Baker, we’re looking to get back at it and fix any loose ends,” Toukonen said. “We don’t want that to happen again. We have a solid defense. We have eight starters coming back from last year’s team. They’re the leaders.” Lehigh: The Lightning are coming off a 3-7 record last season as coach James Chaney returns for his second year. “We’re a work in progress,” Chaney said. “We’re trying to get better every day.” The Lightning have 6 returning starters on each side of the ball. One of them, junior tailback Chris Curry, rushed for 145 yards last week during an 18-7 preseason victory against North Port. “He’s had a good, hard work ethic,” Chaney said. “He makes good grades. He’s a leader. We lean on him on offense.” Senior QB D’Marquise Collins also had a solid preseason. “He managed the game well,” Chaney said. “He didn’t have any turnovers. He played a good game.”

Ida Baker at Dunbar

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for – Baker: Besides getting a 15-14 victory over Palmetto Ridge in its preaseason opener, Brian Conn saw his team go through some late-game situations that will serve it well down the road. “We had to convert two fourth downs before the 2-point conversion,” Conn said. “Those are great things to go through.” Conn said his team’s No. 1 focus will be special teams. Last season, Ida Baker gave up three special teams touchdowns to Dunbar, which had two returns for scores last week. “They have a different kind of speed,” Conn said. Dunbar: Coach Sammy Brown thought his special teams would be good but “I didn’t expect we’d bring two back,” which included TD returns by Seneca Milledge and Shocky Jacques-Louis. He also liked the play of his offensive line as well as his defense. “We really came together,” he said.

Bishop Verot at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney

Time: 7 p.m.

What to watch for – Verot: The Vikings pulled off a thrilling 35-31 victory over their former district rival in an instant classic to open up the 2015 season. Expectations for the Vikings are once again high following an 8-3 record and a district runner-up finish last season. Verot managed a little more than 150 yards in a 3-0 preseason loss to Estero adding to its offensive concerns since the transfer of William Scott, its leading rusher over the last two seasons. Mooney: After a 2-9 finish last season, there’s a renewed sense of confidence surrounding the Cougars thanks to new head coach Drew Lascari, the former offensive coordinator at New Jersey power Don Bosco Prep. Watch out for quarterback Tristan Hillerich and running back Bryce Williams, who could take this offense to the next level.

Gateway Charter at East Lee County 

Time: 7 p.m

What to watch for — Gateway: The Griffins fell to Marco Island 45-38 in their preseason tilt. Chris Ceasar, a transfer from Evangelical Christian School, rushed for 312 yards and three touchdowns in his debut. East Lee County: The Jaguars’ preseason game against Lemon Bay was cancelled due to weather. After a 2-7 record a year ago, 12 starters return. The Jaguars rolled in last year’s matchup 45-9.

Canterbury at Evangelical Christian 

Time: 7 p.m

What to watch for — Canterbury: The Cougars did not have a preseason tune-up on their schedule. First time head coach Derrick Crudup returns 15 starters. ECS: The Sentinels will have questions in their backfield with the loss of transfer Chris Ceasar, but they return the bulk of their lineman on both sides of the ball.

LaBelle at Clewiston

Time: 7:30 p.m

What to watch for — LaBelle: The Cowboys were taken down 41-7 at Okeechobee in their preseason matchup. LaBelle returns 15 starters from a year ago. Clewiston: The Tigers were beaten by Charlotte 48-0 in their preseason game. A year ago, the Tigers defeated LaBelle 42-6 in their annual rivalry game between the Hendry County teams.

Estero at Mariner

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for — Estero: The Wildcats began their preseason with a 3-0 win over Bishop Verot. Offensively, Estero is still finding its timing. Sophomore Willie Neal, who will see time at wide receiver and at running back, remains the team’s best weapon. He had 71 all-purpose yards against the Vikings. Defensively, coach Jeff Hanlon said the Wildcats will swarm to the ball and make plays. Mariner: Heading into his third year with the Tritons, head coach Travis Smith has made strides in each of his first two seasons. Mariner won four games in 2015, despite giving up 32 points per game against an average of 20 points scored. The Tritons return starting senior quarterback Cairo Jeunegens and senior running back Geovanni Garcia along with junior tight end Chris Ramsey.

Fort Myers at Palmetto

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for — Fort Myers: High expectations meet the Green Wave, who won nine games in 2015. They return eight starters on an offense that scored 30 points per game and will feature a switch at quarterback with senior Darrian Felix. Across the field, however, the Green Wave’s defense is among the best in Southwest Florida. It gave up just 15 points per game last year. Palmetto: The Class 7A-11 Tigers won six games last season behind Division I quarterback recruit Jack Allison, who graduated. Palmetto will have Jason Spicer under center. The Tigers crushed Sarasota Booker 39-8 in their preseason clash. The team scored 26 points per game a year ago and defensively the Tigers gave up 20 points.

High school football practices kick off in SWFL

North Fort Myers at Riverdale

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for — North: The Red Knights have high expectations following two straight 5-win campaigns. Their efforts will start on a defense which gave up 26 points a game last season. Linebacker Fa’najae Gotay, a South Fort Myers transfer, will key the middle of the field. Running back Zaquandre White is an All-American candidate and a four-star Florida State University commit. Riverdale: Tom Roszell takes over a Raiders program that is looking to build from its 3-win season. What helps is a supremely talented offensive line which features three-star recruit Cole Schneider. Senior quarterback Daniel Ulmer is the returning starter who will have options at receiver like Dante Quintela and Paul Johnson. The Raiders gave up 24 points per game last year and scored just 16.

SFCA at Bradenton Christian

Time: 7:30 p.m.

What to watch for — SFCA: Following a 5-win season last year, the King’s once again are signaling improvement under head coach Mike Marciano. They defeated Christian in this same game last year 27-20. Sophomore Brandon Lawrence will earn carries at running back, while senior Chase Reed could lead the charge at quarterback. Bradenton Christian: The Panthers won three games a season ago and scored 23 points per game while giving up over 37 points a contest.

Lee County Fab Five

1. Fort Myers: The Greenies return eight starters on offense and seven on defense for a team that won nine games last season.

2. Dunbar: With a stacked defense and a potent offense, the Tigers could be the cream of the crop in the region.

3. North Fort Myers: After two straight 5-win seasons, the Red Knights are ready to get over the hump and into the postseason.

4. South Fort Myers: The loss of former head coach Anthony Dixon aside, the Wolfpack remain among the best in Southwest Florida.

5. Lehigh: Won three of four to end last season and return big playmakers.

FOLLOW FRIDAY’S ACTION LIVE 

Scoreboard

Scoreboard

Log on to news-press.com on your desktop or mobile device every Friday to see live updates from all the action across Southwest Florida and for game reports, photos and videos after the action has concluded. Turn to the pages of The News-Press every Sunday to see local rankings, top performers, standings and notes on our new high school football page Snap Count.

Cory Mull and Adam Regan

Cory Mull and Adam Regan

Inside Southwest Florida Football

The News-Press high school sports reporter Adam Regan and high school sports columnist Cory Mull will preview the area’s top games and key players in this video each week. Watch it Thursday afternoons up until kickoff Friday every Friday at news-press.com. 

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