Game of the Week
Lehigh (2-2, 0-0) at Fort Myers (2-3, 0-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Lehigh: This is a District 6A-11 contest. The Lightning’s two straight wins over Barron Collier and Island Coast corresponded with monster rushing performances from RB Chris Curry. The junior has run for 605 yards and six touchdowns during the stretch. It wouldn’t make sense to change up the offensive game plan of feeding him the ball. Defensively, the Lightning has improved from week to week as it held Island Coast to just six points in its most recent outing. Fort Myers: With injured RB Darrian Felix on the shelf, the Green Wave will have to find different ways to move the chains. The team struggled with that after going up on state-ranked Charlotte early last week at home. Fort Myers will have to make sure every drive ends with a kick — an extra point, a field goal or a kick — after turnovers derailed its chances last week.
The News-Press’ pick: Fort Myers 21, Lehigh 13
Port Charlotte (4-0, 1-0) at North Fort Myers (3-1, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Port Charlotte: This is a District 6A-10 game. The Pirates have given up just two touchdowns in four games and have shut out their last two opponents – Sarasota Booker and Cape Coral – by a combined 84 points. They’ve outscored opponents 151-14 in total. Led by running back Marc Jean-Louis, who had 127 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks, the Pirates pound the ball on offense. Head coach Jordan Ingram has won no less than six games in every season with Port Charlotte. The Pirates also picked up a few votes in the most recent Class 6A AP poll. North: Three straight wins have given the Red Knights much needed confidence heading into a critical district matchup against the Pirates. North was cautious with senior Zaquandre White in a 34-21 win over Mariner, but expect the Red Knights to feature the elusive running back even more here. North also has at least four other capable tailbacks, including sophomore Hunter Kobylanski, who surprised with 111 yards against the Tritons. Freshman quarterback Nick Perez has flourished in three starts, throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns, including a season-high 172 yards last week. Linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay leads the defense and also packs a punch at running back.
The News-Press’ pick: North Fort Myers 28, Port Charlotte 27
Gulf Coast (2-3, 0-0) at Riverdale (1-3, 0-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Gulf Coast: This is a District 7A-12 game. The Sharks’ defense and special teams certainly made an impression during a 26-0 win over Estero last week, intercepting three passes and hitting three field goals, but there’s still room for the offense to grow. They could find trouble running against a powerful Raiders defensive line, which limited Ida Baker last week to just 42 yards rushing. This is a must-win game for the Sharks, who beat the Raiders 32-14 in this game last year, if they want to clinch their third straight trip to the postseason. Running backs Daniel Rendon and DeMarcus Townsend have combined for 781 yards and 12 touchdowns. Riverdale: Ill-advised turnovers and weaknesses in coverage hurt the Raiders in their 20-17 loss to Ida Baker last week. But Riverdale showed glimpses of promise over stretches, including extending drives for much of the second half. They’re getting outscored by opponents 81-45 over four games, however, and will need to shore up defensive mistakes. The Raiders are in search of their first postseason appearance since 2010.
The News-Press’ pick: Gulf Coast 24, Riverdale 21
Island Coast (0-5, 0-1) at Charlotte (4-0, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Island Coast: This is a District 6-10 game. The Gators are giving up over 36 points per game in five losses and saw Lehigh roll up 43 points last week. It gets no easier this week against a potent Tarpons offense. Senior quarterback Kory Curtis has 772 yards passing and five touchdowns against two interceptions, while seniors Jerry Cambric and Calvin Smith have combined for nearly 370 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Charlotte: The Tarpons, who still sit outside the top 10 in the most recent Class 6A AP poll, earned a big win over Fort Myers last week. Over the last two weeks, Charlotte outscored opponents 76-13, though the Green Wave held the team to its lowest offensive output of the season. Charlotte has averaged over 400 yards per game. Senior quarterback D’andre Hicks has gone 26 of 49 for 461 with six touchdowns while Arkansas commit Maleek Williams has rushed for 496 yards and seven scores.
The News-Press’ pick: Charlotte: 42, Island Coast 13
Cypress Lake (3-2, 0-1) at Immokalee (1-3, 0-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
What to watch for — Cypress: This is a District 5A-12 game. The Panthers defense helped snap a two-game losing streak with four interceptions, including a Kelsey Demps pick that sealed last week’s 14-12 win over Cape Coral. The offense, which averaged 3.5 yards per carry last week, will need to slow the game down to keep Immokalee’s high-powered offense off the field. Immokalee: The Indians stunned powerhouse Naples in the first half last week by piling up 298 yards of offense and 34 points before losing 60-42. Junior QB Nathaniel Betancourt threw for 267 yards and five touchdowns in the first half and will look to stay hot against the Panthers.
The News-Press’ pick: Immokalee 34, Cypress Lake 17
Ida Baker (2-3, 0-1) at Cape Coral (0-4, 0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Baker: This is a District 6A-10 matchup. It’s a must-win for both teams aspiring to make the playoffs. The Bulldogs are coming off a 20-17 victory against Riverdale. “We’ve still got some work to do,” Baker coach Brian Conn said. “We’ve got to score more points, and we’ve got to run the ball better. Our schedule has been very difficult to this point. We got through it, and hopefully we’re a better team for it.” WR Luke Endsley made an impact last week, catching seven passes for 177 yards, including a 72-yard TD. QB Toby Noland completed 11 of 16 passes for 196 yards and the score. The Bulldogs lost to Dunbar, Braden River and Charlotte before returning to the win column last week. “They’ve had a tough schedule, too,” Conn said. “It’s a good game for our two schools. We’ll expect that we’ll get their best.” Cape: The Seahawks have been struggling, most recently with a 14-12 loss to Cypress Lake. There was a silver lining with the performance of RB Isaac Washington who rushed 20 times for 144 yards.
The News-Press’ pick: Ida Baker 28, Cape Coral 14
Lely (3-2, 1-0) at Mariner (3-2, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for — Lely: This is a District 5A-12 game. The Trojans are averaging about 30 points a game while giving up the same amount. A shootout favors Lely, which is coming off a 32-31 overtime loss to Barron Collier. Mariner: The Tritons want to control the ball with RB Chance Reiter (436 yards rushing) and the clock while relying on a solid defense. Mariner has allowed 0, 6 and 19 points in three victories.
The News-Press’ pick: Lely 21, Mariner 14
Bishop Verot (3-2, 2-0) at Avon Park (5-0, 2-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
What to watch for — Verot: This is a District 4A-6 game. This one served as a de facto district championship last season and could very well do so again. Despite piling up 538 yards of offense last week the Vikings needed a fourth-quarter comeback to knock off LaBelle on the road. Yards won’t be so easy to come by against an Avon Park defense that ranks first in Class 4A in points against. Avon Park: The Red Devils have given up just three points all season in their five wins. Junior Montrae Braswell leads the team in rushing with 569 yards and five touchdowns.
The News-Press’ pick: Avon Park 42, Bishop Verot 24
Estero (1-3, 0-0) at East Lee County (1-3, 0-0)
Time: 7 p.m
What to watch for — Estero: This is the District 6A-11 opener for both teams. The Wildcats were defeated by Gulf Coast 23-0 a week ago, but only trailed 6-0 at halftime. Estero was shorthanded offensively with Willie Neal out of the lineup with an ankle injury, but he is expected to return this week. Defensively, the Wildcats have performed well all season long, including a shutout against Lemon Bay and only allowing 14 points against North Fort Myers. With Neal back for this district opening game, look for the offense to be able to generate points and keep the defense fresher in the second half. East Lee: The Jaguars were off last week and were defeated two weeks ago by Riverdale 22-12. Outside of a 41-0 defeat to Sebring in Week 3, East Lee’s defense has been strong allowing 42 points in the other three contests. Lothario Adderly is the key to East Lee’s success as he is averaging over 100 yards a game on the ground this season. With an offense that keep it on the ground primarily, the Jaguars will need to rely on Adderly and Cortavious Lee to carry the load and find holes in the Estero defense.
The News-Press’ pick: Estero 24, East Lee County 18
Gateway Charter (1-3, 0-1) at LaBelle (1-4, 0-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m
What to watch for — Gateway: This is a District 4A-6 matchup. The Griffins were shut out by Lake Placid last week 40-0 and struggled to stop the run in their district opener. All five touchdowns allowed were on the ground. Gateway allowed almost 300 rushing yards in the defeat. For the season, the Griffins have been outscored 120-46. Chris Ceasar will have to have a big game as he will be featured heavily in the Gateway game plan offensively. LaBelle: The Cowboys are coming off a tough 28-24 loss to Bishop Verot on Saturday after their game was moved due to weather. With the game tied at 21 heading to the fourth quarter, LaBelle took a lead on a Johnathan Morales 43-yard field goal, but allowed a touchdown with eight minutes to go. Tray Williams had two touchdowns of 50-plus yards and Tyler Burton had his best performance at quarterback this season with 122 yards and two touchdowns through the air. LaBelle has competed well in their last three games, but haven’t been able to close out games.
The News-Press’ pick: LaBelle 33, Gateway Charter 15
Moore Haven (3-2, 1-1) at Evangelical Christian (0-4, 0-1)
Time: 7 p.m
What to watch for — Moore Haven: This is a District 2A-7 game. The Terriers fell to district foe Community School of Naples 48-13 last Friday and trailed 42-6 at halftime. Moore Haven committed four turnovers and had trouble containing Cooper Weiss and Joe Lang. The Terriers fared well with Marco Island the week before in their district opener by winning 45-7. Quarterback John Cox has scored eight rushing touchdowns in five games and has scored in every game this season. Containing him will be key for Evangelical Christian. ECS: The Sentinels come in after a 15-6 defeat at the hands of St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep. ECS had a strong defensive performance after allowing an average of 44 points per game the three previous weeks. Another strong performance will be needed on this side of the ball with the Sentinel offense struggling. Jimmy Mera has performed well out of the backfield, but needs help from quarterback Logan Pearlman and the other skill position players.
The News-Press’ pick: Moore Haven 34, Evangelical Christian 13
Ocala St. John Lutheran (1-3) at Canterbury (2-1)
Time: 7 p.m
What to watch for — St. John Lutheran: The Saints were defeated 40-8 by St. Augustine St. Joesph Academy a week ago. Malachi Sampson and Joshua Pinkston in the backfield are the key threats for St. John Lutheran, which has been outscored 92-58 in their four games this season. Canterbury: The Cougars were off last week, but look to continue the momentum coming off an impressive victory over St. Petersburg Canterbury 34-6 two weeks ago. Brendan Fritz ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns and head coach Derek Crudup was pleased with how his offensive line performed in the victory. With a week off, expect the Cougars to follow a similar formula for success against a Saints defense that allowed over 200 yards on the ground a week ago.
The News-Press’ pick: Canterbury 26, St. John Lutheran 15
The Lee County Fab 5
1. South Fort Myers (5-0): The Wolfpack are on bye. Looking past Ida Baker and Riverdale and on to their clash with Naples could be a mistake.
2. North Fort Myers (3-1): The Red Knights have rebounded nicely since a season-opening loss to Fort Myers. A huge district game against Port Charlotte awaits.
3. Dunbar (3-2): The Tigers have lost their last two games by a total of eight points. A game against Island Coast gives them a chance to get back on track.
4. Fort Myers (2-3): The Green Wave face what should be a de facto district championship game against Lehigh.
5. Bishop Verot (3-2): A road district game against 5-0 Avon Park will tell a lot about the Vikings.