Breeze staff report
Cape Coral, Island Coast, Ida Baker and Mariner all were involved in lopsided preseason football games last Friday night. Even North Fort Myers rang up a 60-point win. Of the five, Mariner was the only team to be on the wrong end of the scoring barrage.
The Cape Coral Seahawks certainly looked explosive Friday night, erupting for 28 second-quarter points on the way to a 42-24 victory over Riverdale at Dave Warkentin Field.
While their score was the closest of the city's four schools, the Seahawks showed a flair for the big play. They scored on long touchdown plays of 75, 74 and 40 yards plus a 50-yard run and a 45-yard pass completion.
"Once we got the offense going and the defense going we're not bad," said Cape coach Larry Gary.
Cape quarterbacks Dylan Bontrager and Eliot Pierce combined for four touchdown passes. Bontrager played the first 2 1/2 quarters before giving way to Pierce.
The Seahawks spotted Riverdale a 10-0 lead, then erupted for 35 points before halftime to take command. Bontrager, a junior, connected on touchdown passes of 74 yards to Miguel Repress, 15 yards to Rhasheed Jiles and 40 yards to Keashawn McCoy. Bontrager had 175 yards passing in the first half and 208 overall.
Pierce threw a short pass to Rasheen Bailey, who broke free for 75 yards for a fourth-quarter TD.
Senior running back Eamon Smart ran for 107 yards on 14 carries and one TD.
"We've still got some kinks we've got to iron out," Gary said. "The penalties - too many of those - and we gave up one or two big plays. And turnovers. We've got to take care of that stuff."
The Seahawks begin the season Friday night at East Lee County.
Riverdale 10 7 0 7 - 24
Cape Coral 7 28 0 6 - 42
Rvr - FG, Abrams 37
Rvr - Smith 13 pass from Lighthall (Abrams kick)
CC - Repress 74 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
CC - Jiles 15 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
CC - Smart 4 run (Perez kick)
Rvr - Edwards 8 run (Abrams kick)
CC -McCoy 40 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
CC - Zamor 20 fumble recovery (Perez kick)
CC - Bailey 75 pass from Pierce (kick blocked)
Rvr - Lighthall 2 run (Abrams kick)
Island Coast 41, East Lee 0: Island Coast dominated both sides of the line against East Lee. For Gator coach Joe Bowen, it marks the continuation of a strong football program he has built at Island Coast.
"We have a returning O-line," he said. "We have enough players (offensive and defensive) that they're only going one way."
Along with both lines being set, the Gators are stacked with skill players, including some quality transfers from other local schools. They used several running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks at East Lee to rack up lots of yardage, and score six touchdowns. Their offense was well balanced, with four different players scoring touchdowns. Several times runningbacks broke through the line for big gains.
Ultimately, the Gators' experience and size made them dominant on the line, and was the difference in the game.
Bowen also saw areas for improvement.
"It was a sloppy night, with lots of penalties." he said. "Our emphasis this week will be on correcting mental mistakes."
Island Coast 14 7 13 7 - 41
East Lee County 0 0 0 0 - 0
IC - Bourque 17 run (Elg kick)
IC - White 5 run (Elg kick)
IC - Bourque 2 run (Elg kick)
IC - Russaw 2 run (Elg kick)
IC - Washington 11 pass from Bourque (run failed)
IC - Russaw 12 run (Elg kick)
North Fort Myers 62, Evangelical Christian 0: If a grind-it-out run offense is the game plan for the Red Knights, then they should be very pleased with their display of 530 yards rushing and nine touchdowns against the Sentinels.
Senior tailback Dylan Czerlinski rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns in the first half to push the Knights to a 34-0 halftime lead they never relinquished en route to a 62-0 preseason final.
The Knights set the tone early, taking the opening drive 61 yards in just under four minutes to the end zone. Senior quarterback Brandon Makar had the easy job of handing the ball to Czerlinski four times before the tailback crossed the goal line from nine yards out. Connor Black's extra-point made it 7-0.
Following a disastrous punt attempt by ECS, the Knights took advantage of a short field and again ran the ball in. This time Makar called his own number from two yards and the score was quickly 14-0.
The second quarter began with more of the same. Czerlinski broke tackles around the left side and scampered 27 yards for a 21-0 lead.
The Knights' defense definitely came to play, and did not allow ECS a first down until six minutes to go in the second quarter.
Tailback Shannon Sims went 35 yards for the fourth TD, but the Knights were in no mood to stop there. Czerlinski tacked on his third TD run, this time from eight yards away, making it 34-0 at the half.
Senior tailback Austin Campbell completed an impressive night of running by a host of backs by powering through the Sentinel defense from seven yards and the final score of the game.
"They've worked so hard in the offseason and in preseason practice," Knights coach Brian Makar said of his offensive line. "We can throw the ball if we want to, but our strength is in the running game."
North opens the season Friday at home against Braden River.
E. Christian 0 0 0 0 - 0
North FM 14 20 14 14 - 62
NFM - Czerlinski 9 run (Black kick)
NFM - Makar 2 run (Black kick)
NFM - Czerlinski 27 run (Black kick)
NFM - Sims 35 run (Black kick)
NFM - Czerlinski 8 run (kick failed)
NFM - Sims 35 run (Black kick)
NFM - Duff 53 run (Black kick)
NFM - Sims 32 run (Black kick)
NFM - Campbell 7 run
South Fort Myers 58, Mariner 7: James Hale showed a vast repertoire of sideline poses. He stood with hands on hips. He paced with arms folded. He glared with a coach's whistle between his lips. And sometimes, he caught the glance of whoever was nearby and simply shrugged.
No matter the posture, and regardless of concerns caused by Friday's thrashing, the veteran coach took pains not to rattle the psyche of the young players around him for the first time.
"We want to play to a standard," Hale said. "We told them, 'Don't play the scoreboard. Don't play to the clock. Just play the best you can. Play with a lot of class. Play with a lot of pride and a lot of determination and just get better every single day.'"
Given the one-sidedness of the debut, there's certainly room for the latter.
"That's what we can control," he said. "We can't control what the other team does, but we can control what we do, and that's what we're focused on trying to improve and get better. They've got to gain some kind of confidence. They haven't had confidence here in a long time."
The 51-point defeat came in Hale's return to coaching in the city where he guided Cape High for nine seasons and won 51 games.
The difficulty of Hale's latest rebuilding task was quickly made apparent by a Wolfpack team that won 10 of 12 games last season, including four shutouts and three more games where foes were held to single digits.
The Wolfpack received the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field for a touchdown, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick and scored one play later, then made it 21-0 with a four-play, 55-yard march capped by junior Ivan Vargas' 41-yard dash down the left sideline.
By the time the first quarter ended, it was 30-0.
The mettle of Hale's youth-sopped team was undergoing its first live test.
"I've done it 30-something years, and you can only do what you can do," Hale said. "We don't have the foot-speed of the other team. We're not as big and physical. We've just got to keep a good attitude and keep being positive and good things will happen."
The Tritons' best moment of the night came when sophomore quarterback Brandon Houston rolled to his right and threw deep down the middle to James Bartolotta, who hauled in the pass for a 56-yard TD with 3:47 to go in the half.
The Tritons opener at Estero on Friday.
S. Fort Myers 3 14 7 7 - 58
Mariner 0 7 0 0 - 7
SFM - Kelly 2 run (Lewis kick)
SFM - Dailidonis 25 pass from Kelly (Lewis kick)
SFM - Vargas 41 run (Lewis kick)
SFM - Safety, ball snapped out of end zone
SFM - Phillips 10 run (Lewis kick)
SFM - Phillips 7 run (Lewis kick)
SFM - Dawson 22 run (Lewis kick)
M - Bartolotta 56 pass from Houston (Riccardi kick)
SFM - Philander 36 run (Lewis kick)
SFM - Peer 38 run (Lewis kick)
Ida Baker 61, Bishop Verot 0: Wyatt Griffith's 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter set the tone for Ida Baker's preseason romp at Bishop Verot.
The Bulldogs tacked on 28 points in the second quarter and piled up three more TDs in the third period behind quarterback Sage Attwood.
Sports editor Jim Linette and freelance writers Pete Sisk, Jonathan Blikstad, Kyle Fitzsimmons and Neil Blair-Bennett contributed to this report.