Among the Christian school football programs in all of Florida, Evangelical Christian in Fort Myers has established its program as the best in Southwest Florida, and one of the best in the state.
That success continued into the 2010 season with a 9-1 regular season record, tarnished by an early first-round exit in the playoffs.
With a move to Class 2A and the departure of several seniors, some may think the Sentinels are due for a down year or two, but not according to coach Brian Lynch.
"Barring any injuries, this is the most talented team I've ever coached," said Lynch. "We have a lot of skill guys with good attitudes and they are ready to play football."
That optimism, and high praise, is based on the fact that for the first time in his ninth year as coach, Lynch will be putting 19 seniors on the field in some capacity this year.
"In years past I would have a mixture of kids from different classes - some seniors, a few juniors and sophomores, even a few freshmen," said Lynch. "This year I have 19 kids on the varsity team who have been on the team for at least three years The intensity level is extremely high, and the knowledge level is amazing because they have played in the varsity program for three years. It's made it really fun to be coach again."
If any concerns about the move to 2A weren't washed away by the knowledge of having so many experienced players returning for their senior year, the rest are eliminated by the fact most of their old district rivals have made the same move to District 2A-6 along with the Sentinels.
That should make the transition near seamless.
"I think we only have one team on our schedule this year that wasn't in our class before, so there are really no worries on our end about the move up," said Lynch.
A key to continuing the success of the program this season is finding replacements for team leaders Jarod Todd on the offensive and defensive lines and Jake Mundo at linebacker. Both were not only vocal in their leadership, but also on the field.
Lynch downplays the idea of singling anyone out on this year's squad as a leadership replacement for either. Further, Lynch refuses to single out one player as a standout among the 19 seniors.
"If I were to mention one, I would have to mention 15 or 16," he said. "We have a lot of skilled guys returning. They are strong and fast and athletic, and they have great attitudes. They are making me really excited about what we could do this year, how far we can go. I definitely think we can make a run at a championship this year."
The Sentinels kick off the season on Sept. 2 by hosting new district opponent Community School of Naples.
Evangelical Christian Sentinels
Sept. 2 - vs. Community School of Naples-x
Sept. 9 - at LaBelle
Sept. 16 - vs. Lakeland Christian
Sept. 23 - at Moore Haven-x
Sept. 30 - at Out-of-Door Academy-x
Oct. 7 - at First Baptist Academy-x
Oct. 14 - vs. SWF Christian-x
Oct. 21 - vs. St. Stephen's Episcopal-x
Oct. 28 - at St. Pete Catholic
Nov. 4 - vs. St. John Neumann-x
Head Coach: Brian Lynch, 9th year (50-36).
Assistants: Tyler Gold (off coord), Jeremy Drake (secondary), Jay Brizel (def, line/special teams), Calan Lynch (WR), Ken Dillburg (quality control).
Team Colors: Red & White
Stadium: 8237 Beacon Boulevard SE, Fort Myers
Playoff History: 2001 - ECS 30, Evangel Christian 6; ECS 52, Keswick Christian 21; Fort Meade 36, ECS 8. 2002 - ECS 20, Admiral Farragut 9; Fort Meade 13, ECS 8. 2003 - ECS 17, Tampa Berkeley Prep 10; Fort Meade 49, ECS 14. 2004 - ECS 28, St. Pete Northside Christian 9; Fort Meade 27, ECS 6. 2005 - Fort Meade 21, ECS 14. 2009 - ECS 38, Lakeland Victory Christian 31; Out-of-Door Academy 32, ECS 18. 2010 - Admiral Farragut 51, ECS 20.
Home: 5-1 Away: 4-1 District: 6-0
Bishop Verot 41, ECS 16
ECS 27, LaBelle 25, OT
ECS 40, Moore Haven 30
ECS 43, First Baptist Academy 14
ECS 28, Out-of-Door Academy 24
ECS 48, SWF Christian 6
ECS 76, St. Stephen's Episcopal 40
ECS 24, Bradenton Christian 20
ECS 28, St. John Neumann 6
ECS 55, Gateway Charter 0
Admiral Farragut 51, ECS 20