Game of the week
North Fort Myers (0-0) at Fort Myers (0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WFWN/WNOG (97.3FM, 1240/1270AM)
What to watch – North: The Red Knights didn’t have much of a dress rehearsal for one of the oldest rivalries in Lee County. The Deion Sanders-led Dallas Triple A Academy cancelled its preseason classic game and North was limited to less than a quarter in its opener with Riverdale, which was deemed a no contest. That was still enough for standout running back Zaquandre White to show he was prepared for the new season when he unleashed an 80-yard touchdown run. North’s defense will again be tested as it was last year in a 25-21 loss to the Green Wave. In that game, the Greenies ran the ball down the Knights’ throat late to seal the victory. North coach Earnest Graham is looking for his front seven to bring a lot more physicality this time around. Fort Myers – Area football fans were robbed of this marquee matchup of Southwest Florida’s top runners last season when White was suspended. This year White vs. Fort Myers’ Darrian Felix is on. Moving to quarterback this season, the lightning-fast Felix is still dangerous as evidenced by the 201 yards on 26 carries he had in a 20-14 loss to Palmetto. After going a decade-plus without losing an opener before last season, the Greenies have now lost two openers in a row. This game, which will more than likely sell out Edison Stadium, will be an early indicator as to which team will rule the county.
The News-Press’ pick: Fort Myers 21, North Fort Myers 20
North Port (0-1) at Ida Baker (0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch – North Port: The Bobcats were dominated in every facet of the game last week in a 40-7 loss to Cypress Lake, which rushed for 279 yards, returned a punt for a touchdown and forced a handful of turnovers. Ida Baker – The Bulldogs and their spread passing attack provide a much different challenge this week for North Port. Junior QB Toby Noland had a solid debut through the air going 17-for-35 for 222 yards and no interceptions last week, but was sacked eight times in a 25-7 loss to Dunbar. Expect Noland and company to have a bounce back week.
The News-Press’ pick: Ida Baker 45, North Port 10
Island Coast (0-1) at Naples (1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch – Island Coast: The Gators showed a great deal of courage during a fourth-quarter comeback that brought them within 1 yard and a two-point conversion of tying highly-touted South Fort Myers with under a minute to play in a 22-14 loss last week. Marcus Evans emerged as a nice compliment to No. 1 receiver Marlon Gaymon. The Gators will look for more consistency from senior QB Kory Curtis who was shaky at times during the first half, but emerged late with some big throws. However, this may not be the week to look for a ton of improvement. Naples – Despite graduating most of its starters off its regional championship team, including 15 players who received football scholarships, the Golden Eagles showed little drop off with a 50-17 win over Class 3A power Delray Beach American Heritage. Naples racked up 460 yards on the ground and junior QB Jordan Persad-Tirone showed he’ll be a force to be reckoned with out of the veer-option.
The News-Press’ pick: Naples 48, Island Coast 21
South Fort Myers (1-0) at Cape Coral (0-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
What to watch — SFM: The Wolfpack are coming off a 22-14 victory against Island Coast on Saturday. Interim coach Matthew Holderfield watched his team surrender two fourth-quarter touchdowns before holding on for the win, the program’s 10th consecutive season-opening victory. “They rallied, but a lot of it was our mistakes,” said Holderfield, a long-time assistant coach at Gadsden City High in Alabama. South RB E’Quan Dorris rushed for 83 yards and a first-quarter touchdown last week but injured a hamstring. “He might not play,” Holderfield said. “We’re just keeping an eye on him.” Should Dorris not play, senior RB Riley Ware and junior Eddie Teague will see more carries. Cape: The Seahawks are coming off a 34-7 loss Friday at Sarasota in which they made a lot of unforced errors. The good news, coach Larry Gary said, is those errors are fixable. “Sarasota is much bigger than South, believe it or not,” Gary said. “We played them decent when we were on defense. But when we were on offense, we could not block them. We didn’t have time to do anything. They had 158 total yards of offense, and 125 came in the first half. They were playing on a short field.” Trailing 14-0, Cape Coral reached scoring position two minutes before halftime, only to lose a fumble. Sarasota returned it 60 yards and later scored. “Instead of 14-7 at halftime, we were down 21-0,” Gary said. “We ended up playing three quarterbacks. We are just trying to find a chemistry.” Camron Blissett, Chris Kovacs and Chase Sealander are all in contention to get playing time at quarterback.
The News-Press’ pick: South Fort Myers 45, Cape Coral 13
Lehigh (0-0) at Dunbar (1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch – Lehigh: The Lightning’s first week cancellation against Palmetto Ridge marked the second straight year the program had to cancel at least one game of its season due to lightning. Lehigh will look to junior Chris Curry, who rushed for 498 yards and three touchdowns in five games in 2015, for consistent production on the ground. Sophomore quarterback D’marquise Collins, who only played one game last year, has the ability to make plays with his feet and arm. The Lightning gave up just 23 points per game last season. Dunbar: The Tigers ran away from Ida Baker in a 25-7 win on Saturday following a crushing defensive performance that saw junior Rocky Jacques-Louis record a school record seven sacks. Dunbar will hang its hat on its defense and perhaps out power opponents on the ground. They recorded 240 yards from six rushers. Junior quarterback Jairus Johnson completed 5-of-8 passes for 26 yards.
The News-Press’ pick: Dunbar 35, Lehigh 14
Bishop Verot (0-1) at Mariner (1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch — Verot: The Vikings hit an early bump in the road, losing their opener against a high-powered Sarasota Cardinal Mooney team 46-15. There were some bright spots with QB Korey Besse throwing for 179 yards and two scores and WR Deven Thompkins catching six balls for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Mariner: The Tritons defense appeared to be extremely inexperienced heading into the season, but came away with a 19-0 shutout of Estero in Week 1 where they posted 14 tackles for a loss, forced eight fumbles, made four sacks and picked off two passes.
The News-Press’ pick: Mariner 24, Bishop Verot 18
Lemon Bay (0-1) at Estero (0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch – Lemon Bay: The Manta Rays won eight games in 2015. They beat the Wildcats 26-14 in this game last year, which jumpstarted a string of three straight wins. They scored just a shade under 20 points per game last year. The Manta Rays are short on depth, featuring a roster of just 25 varsity players. Estero: A lack of offense has been the biggest question mark for the Wildcats over the last two weeks. Estero has scored just three points in two games, including a 3-0 win over Bishop Verot in the preseason. On Saturday, the Wildcats were shut out by Mariner (19-0) and produced just 51 yards of total offense. Sophomore Willie Neal, a wide receiver and running back, gained 46.
The News-Press’ pick: Estero 14, Lemon Bay 10
East Lee County (1-0) at Cypress Lake (1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch — East Lee: One of these two perennially struggling programs is going to go 2-0, which would be a great start. In a 49-0 victory over Gateway, East Lee established the run as Lothario Adderly had touchdown runs of 10, 26 and 42 yards. The Jaguars also scored on a 46-yard punt return by Cortavius Lee and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Darius Parker. Cypress Lake: The Panthers showed big-play ability vs. North Port as Keyon Brawner returned a fumble 60 yards for Cypress’ first touchdown, then set up a second less than a minute later with an interception and runback to the Bobcats’ 1. Isaiah Thomas had a 67-yard breakaway and Chris Joseph took a punt 54 yards for a TD.
The News-Press’ pick: Cypress Lake 35, East Lee 20
Riverdale (0-0) at Palmetto Ridge (0-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
What to watch – Riverdale: The Raiders were granted just three possessions in a weather shortened game Friday against North Fort Myers – one offensive and two defensive. Offensively, the Raiders are strengthened by a line that boasts five players over 250 pounds and a talented running back in Malcolm Spencer. Quarterback Daniel Ulmer threw a 30-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to give the Raiders their opening touchdown of the season. But the Raiders also gave up an 80-yard run on their last defensive possession. Palmetto Ridge: The Bears weren’t able to get on the field last Friday in a game against Lehigh, but they’re entering the season with a new quarterback, a new running back and a host of questions on offense. Fortunately, the Bears are more experienced at defense, where they return 10 seniors from a unit that allowed just 23 points per game in 2015. Senior Dylan Will, a nose guard and Tyler Ervin, a defensive end, are expected to lead the group.
The News-Press’ pick: Palmetto Ridge 17, Riverdale 13
Evangelical Christian (0-0) at LaBelle (0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m
What to Watch — ECS: The Sentinels’ opener against Canterbury was cancelled due to weather last week, a week after only playing half of a quarter against Mariner in their preseason game. Look for the men in the trenches opening holes for running backs and limiting the Cowboys’ Tray Williams on the ground. LaBelle: The Cowboys were shut out in their Week 1 matchup at Clewiston 28-0. In last year’s meeting, Williams ran for 167 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 40-7 LaBelle victory.
The News-Press’ Pick: LaBelle 30, Evangelical Christian 13
Gateway Charter (0-1) at SFCA (1-0)
Time: 7 p.m
What to Watch — Gateway: The Griffins were shut out against East Lee County 49-0 in their season opener. Chris Ceasar, who had a terrific, 300-yard-plus preseason game on the ground was bottled up, only rushing for 22 yards on 15 carries. SFCA — The King’s went on the road and scored a 35-15 victory over Bradenton Christian. Kobe Gee threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Chase Reed, who had 125 receiving yards. A year ago, Southwest Florida Christian downed Gateway Charter 35-0 on the strength of three touchdown passes from Justin Vasquez.
The News-Press’ pick: SFCA 41, Gateway Charter 10
Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin Catholic (1-0) at Canterbury (0-0)
Time: 7 p.m
What to Watch — Canterbury: The Cougars had their season opener against Evangelical Christian cancelled due to weather. Without a preseason game, first-year head coach Derrick Crudup’s team will get a stern test in the Hurricanes. BM: Bishop McLaughlin defeated Winter Park International Community 41-0 in their season opener. Quarterback Gilbert Estien is a dual-threat option, throwing for 89 yards and two scores, while gaining 59 yards on the ground last week. Look for Jalen Ellis to be featured heavily in the Cougars backfield.
The News Press’ Pick: Bishop McLaughlin Catholic 26, Canterbury 15
Lee County Fab 5
1. Dunbar (1-0): The Tigers defense may just be as good as last season as it recorded eight sacks in holding Ida Baker’s spread passing attack seven points last week.
2. Fort Myers (0-1): The lasting image of a Palmetto running back dragging Green Wave safety Dawson DeGroot into the end zone during a 20-14 road loss is burned into the players’ memories and should motivate them heading into a big rivalry game with North Fort Myers.
3. South Fort Myers (1-0): The Wolfpack looked impressive in the first half against Island Coast, especially the run game, but RB E’Quan Dorris’ tight hamstring limited him in the second half and South had to hold on in the final minutes for a 22-14 win.
4. North Fort Myers (0-0): Playing less than a quarter against Riverdale didn’t provide insight into just how good North is this season. We’ll find out quite a bit Friday against Fort Myers.
5. Lehigh (0-0): Had weather not wiped out the Lightning’s game with Palmetto Ridge it would have provided a better picture of their progress following a 3-6 season. Dunbar poses a huge test Friday.