The Cape Coral Seahawks' season could well be determined by what's up front.
While the offensive and defensive lines are important to any football team, the growth and development of the line will determine just how far the Seahawks can go this fall.
"We won't know until we play somebody," Seahawks coach Larry Gary said. "We had one player leave. His parents moved to Carolina. Then we had two of our guys that are projected starters that didn't play this spring. Stuff changes from time to time."
Cape Coral senior Dylan Bontrager is expected to start at quarterback this season for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks (7-3, 4-2 District 5A-14 last year) just missed making the playoffs a year ago.
Gary certainly has firepower at the skill positions.
Dylan Bontrager returns as starting quarterback. He passed for 1,870 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior. He's backed up by fellow senior Elliot Pierce.
Aug. 22 - at Riverdale, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 - vs. East Lee County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 - at Estero, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 - vs. Ida Baker, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 - at Cypress Lake, 7:30 p.m.-x
Sept. 26 - vs. North Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 2 - vs. Island Coast, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 10 - at Lemon Bay, 7 p.m.-x
Oct. 17 - at Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 24 - at Lehigh, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 31 - vs. Mariner, 7:30 p.m.
- Head Coach: Larry Gary ('12), 3rd year (11-9)
- Assistants: Sammy "Rev" Watkins (associate head coach), Calvin Hudgins (OC), Jim Elkins (DL), Mike Ruth (LB/freshman), Rick Ruth (LB), Isaac Harvin (RB), Tim Copeland (OL/JV), Mike Sturgis (DB), Harold Matos (DB), Jamal Rogers (WR/JV OC), Chawn Edmondson (WR), Ryan McCallum (video/editing), Brandon Mulloy (special teams).
- Team Colors: Orange and Blue
- Stadium: Dave Warkentin Field, 2300 Santa Barbara Blvd.
- Class/District: 5A-14
- Playoff History: 1980 - Venice 32, Cape Coral 6; 1993 - Cape Coral 10, Jupiter 0; Cape Coral 34, Auburndale 20; Deerfield Beach 12, Cape Coral 10 (Semifinals). 2005 - Bradenton Manatee 27, Cape Coral 20. 2007 - Cape Coral 27, Venice 10; Cape Coral 31, Manatee 28; Largo 28, Cape Coral 13. 2008 - Venice 35, Cape Coral 14. 2009 - Cape Coral 27, Lakewood Ranch 0; Charlotte 24, Cape Coral 16. 2010 - Cape Coral 23, Palmetto 3; Charlotte 7, Cape Coral 0. 2011 - Cape Coral 28, Golden Gate 27 (OT); Immokalee 54, Cape Coral 7.
Home: 4-1 Away: 3-2 Dist: 4-2
Cape 45, East Lee 14
Cape 35, Estero 19
Ida Baker 49, Cape 32
x-Cape 40, Cypress Lake 0
x-Cape 7, North Fort Myers 5
x-Island Coast 34, Cape 14
x-Cape 41, Lemon Bay 25
x-Dunbar 24, Cape 9
Cape 54, Lehigh 6
x-Cape 49, Mariner 6
"It's just keeping them healthy," Gary said.
While leading 2013 rusher Eamon Smart graduated, Gary has a pair of replacements ready in Isaac Washington and Jordan Lewis. Lewis ran for 130 yards and two scores in the spring game against Bradenton Bayshore, which Washington missed.
"He's going to be special," Gary said of Washington.
The receiving corps is deep, featuring a player who sparkled on both sides of the ball in the spring victory. Rasheen Bailey caught two touchdown passes and added a TD on defense with an interception return.
Jordan Lewis, Miguel Repress, C.J. Lewis, Issac Stevens and Starling Eustache are other targets for Bontrager and Pierce.
"Those are the plus," Gary said. "Those are our experience. Since I've been here we haven't had this much depth at the skill positions."
Gary said the Seahawks offensive philosophy is simple: Take what the opposing defense is giving them.
"You sure have to establish the run, but whatever is open," Gary said. "We can throw the ball on first down. What's open, we'll take."
On the other side of the ball, Gary said the team's strength lies with the linebackers and defensive backs. Linebacker Colin Loethen had two sacks against Bayshore in the spring.
"The linebackers and the DBs, that's our core," Gary said. "The majority of those are back and are very experienced."
Keyshawn McCoy will miss the preseason game and the first three regular season games as a result of a fight that occurred at the end of the spring game.
"Our biggest thing is that we've just got to come together," Gary said. "The chemistry has to come together.
"We've got to take a good look at our offensive line and our defensive line," Gary said. "That was hit hard (by graduation). Those guys have to continue to get better."
The biggest problem the Hawks showed in the spring game was along the line. Pierce and Bontrager faced heavy pressure when trying to pass, but the offensive and defensive lines were without the other projected starter who was absent in the spring. Senior Drake Wanshon transferred to Cape from Island Coast last fall and had to sit out until the end of the past school year.
The Seahawks face a District 5A-14 schedule that features playoff teams Island Coast and Dunbar, along with Mariner, North Fort Myers, Lemon Bay and Cypress Lake.
The meat of the district schedule comes between Sept. 19 and Oct. 17, a stretch of five consecutive games.
"We have a chance to win (district)," Gary said. "There's some tough ones. The district is tough. One of the toughest out of all the classes. It's going to be a challenge week to week. We can't afford to lose any."
The Seahawks visit Riverdale for their preseason game on Aug. 22. The regular season opener is a week later, on Aug. 29, at home against East Lee County.