Game of the Week
South Fort Myers (4-0) at Dunbar (3-1)
What to watch for — South: The Wolfpack’s wins this season haven’t been easy and haven’t lacked drama. Yet they are the only undefeated team left in Lee County thanks to a defense that continues to get stops when they need it the most. Senior middle linebacker Tristan Perry leads the team in tackles with 36, including three for a loss. If QB Maurice Flournoy and his stable of talented running backs and receivers can start scoring points more consistently, South will be a tough out. Dunbar: For a little more than a quarter last week, the Tigers defense was as dominant as they’ve ever been. Then Lely QB Jacquez Carter torched it for four touchdowns showing a chink in Dunbar’s armor. The Tigers, who have a heated rivalry with South, will need to cut down on the dropped passes and penalties if they hope to get back on track.
The News-Press’ pick: South Fort Myers 21, Dunbar 20
Diaz’s 36-yard field goal lifts South past Fort Myers
North Fort Myers (2-1) at Mariner (3-1)
What to watch for — North: A one-sided, season-opening loss to Fort Myers took away from the hype the Red Knights received in the preseason. Now they are flying under the radar, a position coach Earnest Graham likes. Graham will experience a homecoming as he returns to Mariner, his alma mater. The Red Knights have beaten Estero and Island Coast the last two week, improving with every snap. The question will be whether RB Zaquandre White’s ankle will let him go full-force Friday. He carried 14 times for 165 yards and a touchdown last week. Mariner: The Tritons played the field position game in a 14-6 win over Cypress Lake last week. That doesn’t really jive against a quick-strike offense like North. If the Tritons can move the chains and play keep away, they could be in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter.
The News-Press’ pick: North Fort Myers 26, Mariner 7
Island Coast (0-4, 0-1) at Lehigh (1-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Island Coast: The Gators are on a tough skid, having lost their last nine games dating back to 2015. Island Coast’s last win came against the Lightning in this same game in 2015. This season’s version of the Gators are struggling defensively, giving up an average of nearly 35 points per game. The offense hasn’t been much better, as it’s had difficulty putting together sustained drives on the ground or avoiding turnovers. Senior quarterback Kory Curtis, who’s completing just 44 percent of his passes, needs to take control early for the Gators to have a chance. They’ll be without senior wide receiver Marlon Gaymon for the third straight game. Lehigh: The Lightning finally broke through in the win column last Friday with a promising 26-14 win over Barron Collier, which featured 294 rushing yards and two touchdowns by running back Chris Curry. A steady dose of the bruising back would go a long way in giving the Lightning two straight wins. Over three weeks, Lehigh’s offense has recharged, much of that due to the play calling that has given Curry more touches. Defensively, however, the Lightning have also cut down the mistakes and have bent but not broke. Sophomore quarterback Delshawn Green could be a key factor in this game.
The News-Press’ pick: Lehigh 35, Island Coast 13
Charlotte (3-0) at Fort Myers (2-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Charlotte: This is a non-district game, but it’s also one of the best, long-standing rivalries in Southwest Florida. The Tarpons are coming off a 52-7 victory against Ida Baker that showcased five senior skill players: QB Dee Hicks, RBs Maleek Williams and D’Vonte Price and WRs Travon McClary and Jacob White. “We’re pretty decent,” said Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop, who usually tries to downplay his team’s abilities. “We’ve got a little speed. We have 18 senior starters. We better be good, starting that many seniors. A lot of these kids have started since they were sophomores. We have a running quarterback for the first time in 20 years. He’s pretty fast.” Williams is bound for the University of Arkansas. Price had the bigger game last week, taking two carries for touchdowns on runs of 56 and 83 yards. Fort Myers: The Green Wave are coming off an 18-16 loss to South Fort Myers in which star RB Darrian Felix suffered a deep bruise on his upper arm that inflamed his elbow and lower arm, making him questionable to play. “We’re not going to play him until he’s 100 percent,” Fort Myers coach Sam Sirianni Jr. said. Should Felix, who did not practice earlier in the week, not play, Xavier Perez, Yasias Young, Milan Tucker and Ben Stobugh should see a larger role on offense. “Darrian is obviously a spectacular athlete, but we still spread the carries around,” Sirianni said. “Just like we did in the second half.” The Tarpons are clearly the Green Wave’s biggest challenge this season, Sirianni said. “It’s one of the best Charlotte teams I’ve seen,” he said. “Binky has talked about this group for a couple of years. He’s a prophet.”
The News-Press pick: Charlotte 42, Fort Myers 14
Gulf Coast (1-3) at Estero (1-3)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch — Gulf Coast: Who’s in more need of a restart? Is it the Wildcats or the Sharks, who have disappointed with just one win to open the season, despite the return of 15 starters? Last weeks’ 50-3 loss to Naples was a crushing blow for a program many expected to compete for seven or eight wins. Now they’ll have to turn their efforts to the Wildcats, a team that has scored just two touchdowns in three losses. This may be the game to get the Sharks’ mojo back, especially with the team’s first District 7A-12 game looming against Riverdale. Senior running back Daniel Rendon has rushed for 403 yards and six touchdowns, while junior quarterback Kaden Frost has thrown four interceptions to just one touchdown. The Sharks score just a shade over 21 points per game. Estero: The Wildcats’ defense is playing just good enough to win. Problem is, the offense hasn’t given the defense much time to rest. The Wildcats have scored just 35 points in four games, including a 21-0 win over Lemon Bay in Week 2. They fell to Palmetto Ridge 22-8 last week, their third loss in four outings without scoring more than one touchdown. Coach Jeff Hanlon may need to examine his offense at this point, especially with quarterback Phillip Setterquist struggling at quarterback. On the bright side, the Wildcats opened last season with five straight losses before finishing the year with four wins in their last five.
The News-Press’ pick: Gulf Coast 35, Estero 7
Riverdale (1-2) at Ida Baker (1-3)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch — Riverdale: Defensive pressure and playmaking was the Raiders calling card in its 22-12 win over East Lee County on Friday. That pressure will need to continue with an Ida Baker offense that is capable of scoring points quickly. The Raiders also have to take advantage of their offensive line play, which can create holes for running backs Malcolm Spencer and Zach Sanders. The Raiders have scored just 28 points in three games against 61 points given up. Baker: Talk about a tough stretch. The Bulldogs can breathe a little after two losses to No. 2 Class 7A Bradenton Braden River and likely soon-to-be Class 6A ranked Charlotte. The Bulldogs, who have given up 94 points in their last two games, face a Raiders team that barely edged out the Jaguars last week. When Ida Baker’s offense is on, good things will happen through junior quarterback Toby Noland, who has passed for 744 yards and five touchdowns against just one interception. The Bulldogs running game, however, needs work, as its gained just 226 yards, an average of just over 50 yards per game and a meager 2.1 yards per carry, over the last four games. Defensively, Ida Baker has given up at least three touchdowns in all three of its losses.
The News-Press’ pick: Ida Baker 28, Riverdale 13
Riverdale overcomes miscues, tops East Lee
Bishop Verot (2-2, 1-0) at LaBelle (1-3, 0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m
What to watch for — Verot: This is the second District 4A-6 matchup for both teams. The Vikings are coming off of a solid performance in their district opener in defeating Lake Placid 38-7 last week. QB Korey Besse went for 269 yards on 21 of 30 passes and looked early and often for Deven Thompkins who had 11 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. Thompkins averages nearly 100 yards a game and has six touchdown receptions in four games this season. LaBelle: The Cowboys are coming off of a 42-28 defeat to Mulberry in their district opener last week. After falling being 28-6 at halftime, LaBelle rallied to make it an eight-point game with five minutes to go, but could not get any closer. Tray Williams continued his strong season with another 100-yard-plus game on the ground and two touchdowns. Johnathan Morales knocked home a 52-yard field goal for the Cowboys a week ago.
The News-Press’ pick: Bishop Verot 29, LaBelle 20
Cape Coral (0-3) at Cypress Lake (2-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for – Cape Coral: The Seahawks have scored just 13 points in losses to Sarasota (34-7), South Fort Myers (18-6) and Charlotte (56-0). “Offensively, we’re struggling right now,” Cape coach Larry Gary said. “Offensive line is our biggest focus. We made a few minor changes that we hope will help. Something is missing and we have to figure it out and get this thing going.” Cypress Lake: After opening the season with wins over North Port (40-7) and East Lee County (20-6), the Panthers have struggled to score in losses to Fort Myers (34-0) and Mariner (14-6). Coach Richie Rode said the key is re-establishing the running game and staying away from penalties. “I think we had a second-and-43 one time, which I never saw before,” Rode said. “I think Isaiah Thomas has had about 200 yards rushing called back.”
The News-Press’ pick: Cypress Lake 14, Cape Coral 13
Gateway Charter (1-2, 0-0) at Lake Placid (1-2, 0-1)
Time: 7 p.m
What to watch for — Gateway: The Griffins were off last week and are looking to open District 4A-6 play on a high note against the Dragons from Highlands County. After being shut out the first two games, Gateway exploded for 46 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter to defeat Evangelical Christian 46-19. Chris Ceasar found his footing with three touchdowns and 121 yards on the ground and was the target of two touchdowns through the air from Tyious Savoy on his way to 142 yards receiving. Lake Placid: The Dragons took a 38-7 loss at the hands of Bishop Verot in their district opener, but running back Katwan Ward shined with 144 yards on 20 carries in the defeat. Tay Williams also features in the Dragon running game as he averages around 100 yards a game to go with Ward’s 110 yards per game.
The News-Press’ pick: Gateway Charter 30, Lake Placid 20
Southwest Florida Christian Academy (2-2, 0-1) at First Baptist Academy (1-2, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m
What to watch for — SFCA: This is the second District 2A-7 matchup for both teams. The Kings are coming off of a tough district opening loss to St. John Neumann, allowing a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to fall 23-17. Offensively, SFCA had a balanced attack and moved the ball well, but coach Mike Marciano was displeased with his team’s discipline. “I have never seen us have as much of a lack of discipline as we did tonight,” Marciano said. FBA: The Lions rolled Evangelical Christian in their district opener last week 48-12, and held a 34-0 lead after the first quarter. Jayce Howell went for 106 yards on just six carries, and has been the offensive leader for First Baptist. The 2A semifinalists from a year ago won a tight game 14-7 a year ago in this matchup.
The News-Press’ pick: First Baptist 23, SFCA 18
Lee County Fab 5
1. South Fort Myers (4-0): The Wolfpack, the only undefeated team in the county, could take a big step in wrapping up the Lee County Athletic Conference title with a win over Dunbar.
2. Dunbar (3-1): Which Tigers defense will show up this week against South?
3. Fort Myers (2-2): Charlotte, which beat the Green Wave by 42 points last season, is a tough opponent to get back on track against.
4. North Fort Myers (2-1): Mariner product Earnest Graham and his Red Knights won’t overlook his alma mater on the road.
5. Mariner (3-1): The Tritons will need to score more than the 17 points per game they’re averaging to beat North.