Island Coast junior Aaron Lynch has continued to grow and build strength since his freshman year with the Gators. What hasn't changed is his knack for coming up with the clutch play, particularly on defense.
His 38-yard fumble return for touchdown last Friday helped the Gators defeat Mariner 17-14 in the first meeting between the Cape schools.
After an impressive freshman year, Cape High sophomore Olivia Langford continues to display her talent and versatility in the pool, and is emerging as one of the Seahawks' leaders.
Aaron Lynch, Junior
Island Coast Gators / Football
For their performances, Lynch and Langford were chosen as the Daily Breeze Male and Female Athlete of the Week.
Gators coach Joe Bowen has seen the situation play out before. He's beginning to expect Lynch, who now is a towering 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, to be in the right place at the right time when the Gators need a spark.
With the Gators clinging to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter against Mariner, the defense converged on the quarterback, knocked the ball loose and there was Lynch to pick it up and take it in for the score.
"It was great timing," Bowen said. "Aaron throughout the years I've had him, it always seems like he's there at the right time."
One of Lynch's most dominant performances came in the preseason jamboree at Port Charlotte when he registered four sacks and a safety in the Gators' 8-7 win. He sacked the quarterback six times in a game against Moore Haven last year, and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the spring game against Lakewood Ranch.
Lynch has played football in the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers area for 12 years. He was a running back, at times, during his Pop Warner days, but has settled into his predominant role as a defensive end.
He's made his biggest impact by putting heat on opposing quarterbacks, registering seven sacks in five games this season.
"You have to be smart and take good angles," Lynch said of rushing the passer. "When you do that, you can get there"
As productive as Lynch has been during games, Bowen is equally as pleased with the approach Lynch takes on the practice field and in the weight room.
For the Gators (2-3), who still are a young program in their first full varsity season, Bowen said Lynch is a player that sets the standard for the rest of the group.
"Everyone looks at him to see what he's doing," Bowen said. "If he's working out, the other players will follow the lead when you have guys like that."
Joseph Byrd, senior, Ida Baker Bulldogs football - Byrd rushed for 92 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 48-0 win over North Port last Friday.
C.J. Cricco, senior, Mariner Tritons golf - Cricco fired back-to-back 36s last week. He took medalist honors in a match against Fort Myers.
Cape High swim coach Dianne Kimble considers Langford to be the team's "quiet threat."
There are more established individuals among the Seahawks, who have built their reputations through several years of success at the high school level, and Langford has used that to her advantage.
"She's not a name people here every single day," Kimble said, "and then they see her swim, and they're like, 'who is that?'"
Langford may not be able to sneak up on the competition much longer, considering her steady improvement which has been evident from her freshman year to this season.
Langford is building her own reputation thanks to a strong work ethic and willingness to take on different challenges in the pool.
Last week, she took first-place in the 200 and 500 freestyle events during a meet with Estero, and won the 200 individual medley and 500 free in a meet against North Fort Myers.
Langford considers the 500 free among her favorites, but remains open to swimming any event when she shows up for a meet.
"I swim basically anything," she said.
Kimble said Langford's versatility and attitude have made her one of the team leaders, despite being only a sophomore.
"Nobody outworks her," Kimble said, "and she's a very balanced swimmer. I can put her anywhere and she'll come out at the top of her game."
Langford balances out her extensive swimming schedule with schoolwork and other activities. She's an IB student at Cape High and a member of the marching band.
She is in her eighth year overall of swimming, getting started in Rocky River, Ohio, before moving to Cape in seventh grade. In addition to high school swimming, she's a member of Swim Florida.
When she first started swimming, Langford realized it was a good choice.
"As soon as I started, I enjoyed it," she said. "I just enjoy being in the water."
Jessica Petrucci, junior, North Fort Myers Red Knights volleyball - Petrucci served 14 consecutive points to help the Red Knights rally past South Fort Myers in four games last Thursday.
Jorden Suchomel, 8th grade, Oasis Sharks swimming - Suchomel became the first Oasis swimmer to win an individual event, taking the 200 individual medley in a meet at Cypress Lake last Tuesday. She finished second in the 100 butterfly.