When the North Fort Myers Red Knights pay a visit to Dave Warkentin Field Thursday night, they will face a Cape Coral Seahawks squad that is a bit banged up.
It's a matchup of teams feeling a bit better about themselves with two games under their belts - the Seahawks (2-0) under a new coach and a lot of new starters, and the Red Knights (1-1) coming off a victory in which they scored their first points on the heels of a season-opening shutout.
"It was nice to get into the end zone finally," said Red Knights coach Barry Goettemoeller. "That and our defense pitched a shutout, but in this business we know that celebrations are short-lived."
The Seahawks present the strongest challenge so far for the Red Knights, who are trying to bounce back from last year's disappointing 4-6 campaign.
"Looking at them on film," Goettemoeller said, "Cape seems similar to previous years. They have size up front and their defense is as fast and aggressive as it has been. We will play a physical game, we always do, and try to take care of business."
Goettemoeller added he is pleased with the progress he has seen in the first two weeks.
"Our defense has allowed us to let the offense come of age," he said. "We still have a long way to go, but the offense is starting to come together."
The Seahawks' defensive unit is a bit beat up and could be missing a couple of key regulars at kickoff.
"It just gives some of the other players a chance to step up," said Seahawks coach Brad Metheny. "We will come ready to play because we know you can't overlook anyone (opponent)."
Metheny added several players already have stepped in for starters and contributed for the Seahawks in last week's 29-8 win over Fort Myers despite the added hassle of a lengthy rain and lightning delay.
Ida Baker (0-2) at Island Coast (1-1): The Baker Bulldogs could run into a buzzsaw Thursday night at Island Coast because the veteran Gators are still smarting from an unexpected 13-6 loss to Cypress Lake.
The Bulldogs just coughed up a shutout loss to North High and need a good confidence-building performance to take into the final two-thirds of the season and district schedule.
"We haven't executed very well so far," said Bulldogs coach Brian Conn. "We'll try some people in new positions and be a little more creative on offense."
Mariner (0-2) at Charlotte (2-0): It just doesn't get any easier for the Mariner Tritons, who have dropped their first two games while trying to reestablish competitiveness on the heels of last year's 1-9 campaign.
"We're going to go in there and play hard," said Tritons first-year coach Chris Siner. "We're not going to turn tail and run."
In the 2-0 Tarpons, the Tritons are going up against a state playoff caliber team.
"On paper, Charlotte is a great team that is well coached," said Siner. "Their offensive and defensive lines always have the same size and strength, like they clone them up there. They are the kind of team we strive to be."
After getting pummeled by Cape Coral in the season opener, the Tritons had a shot at victory last week against North Port. Trailing by six points, the Tritons covered a fumble and drove inside the 10-yard line as time was running down. The Bobcats picked off a fourth-down pass to seal a 30-24 win.
"We played well in the second half last week," said Siner. "With the hour and a half (weather) delay and all I saw some improvement from the Cape game."
Other area games kicking off Thursday night include Cypress Lake at South Fort Myers, Fort Myers at Dunbar, Lemon Bay at Estero and Riverdale at Lehigh. Also, Oasis is at Canterbury in a 6-man football matchup slated to kick off at 7 p.m.
Bishop Verot goes on the road to LaBelle Friday night and East Lee County visits Lakewood Ranch.