Island Coast begins a new chapter in its football history. Since its inaugural campaign in 2008, the Gators had been coached by Joe Bowen, who compiled a 43-19 record as the school's first coach.
Last spring, his successor was named. Wayne Blair came to the Gators after three years at Boyd Anderson on the East Coast (Lauderdale Lakes). Blair was considered "a home run hire" for Island Coast by Dallas Jackson of NationalHSFootball.com. Jackson thought Boyd Anderson was a nationally relevant school, and that it was big for the Gators to lure Blair to the West Coast.
"We kind of found each other," Blair said of the move. "I needed a change."
Island Coast quarterback Kory Curtis hands off to senior running back Van Edwards during a recent practice.
Blair has hired in April and led the Gators in their spring game victory over Fort Myers.
"Joe Bowen did a great job of laying the foundation of a great team. Now we're busy getting them on the right page of some of the things I've learned," Blair said.
The main thing Blair wants to implement is an up-tempo offense. Similar to what many college programs are doing, Blair wants his team to be able to line up for the next play from scrimmage quickly. This calls for greater intensity and physical stamina.
Aug. 22 - vs. East Lee County, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 29 - at Ida Baker, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 - vs. Riverdale, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 - at South Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 - vs. Lemon Bay, 7:30 p.m.-x
Sept. 26 - vs. Mariner, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 2 - at Cape Coral, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 10 - vs. North Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 17 - at Cypress Lake, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 24 - at Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.-x
Nov. 7 - at Naples, 7:30 p.m.
n Head Coach: Wayne Blair ('14), 1st season
n Assistants: Jeremy Ware (DB), Chris Sneadon (OL), Greg Coleman (OC), Mitch Curliss (LB/special teams), Terry Houser, Tito Ramos, Mike Curtis.
n Team Colors: Hunter Green & Vegas Gold
n Nickname: Gators
n Stadium: 2125 Del Navarra Pkwy., Cape Coral.
n Class/District: 5A-14
n Playoff History: 2009 - Lake Highland Prep 28, Island Coast 0. 2010 - Island Coast 28, Tampa Catholic 0; Island Coast 42, Lake Highland Prep 21; Ft. Lauderdale University School 34, Island Coast 28. 2012 - Naples 45, Island Coast 7. 2013 - Sarasota Booker 33, Island Coast 27.
Home: 4-2 Away: 3-1 Dist: 6-0
Ida Baker 32, IC 14
at Riverdale ccd.
IC 16, South Fort Myers 9 (3 OT)
x-IC 40, Lemon Bay 21
x-IC 61, Mariner 6
x-IC 34, Cape Coral 14
x-IC 45, North Fort Myers 6
x-IC 64, Cypress Lake 6
x-IC 21, Dunbar 8
University 49, IC 7
Sarasota Booker 33, IC 27
Quick tempo teams seek to gain an advantage by not letting the defense line up correctly against them. Often this leads to missed assignments or players out of position.
Offensively, the Gators have three seniors to bolster their line - Mason Boye, Alejandro Elias, and Richard Klhor.
Returning running backs include seniors Van Edwards and Zelan Lambert, and junior Antonio Greaves. Wide receivers include Torien Thomas, Corey Murphy, Ryan Pulley, Isaiah Crawford, and Teddy Mitchell.
The only uncertainty on offense remains at quarterback. In the spring game, Blair played two QBs, but in returning to practice last week, one of them, Quinn Bourque, has been a no-show. Bourque was the Gators' starter last year, racking up 1,449 passing yards. That leaves the new coach a battle between senior Joey Lantz and sophomore Kory Curtis. Curtis led the Gators in the spring game and seems to have the edge at the starting job.
On defense, the line is anchored by end D.J. Williams and tackle Everett Wetherell.
Although he's been coaching on the East Coast for many years, Blair still has some insight into the competition on this side of the peninsula.
"Back in the day when I was at St. Thomas Aquinas, we played South Fort Myers and Estero," said Blair. "We know about Earnest Graham's pro career, and he's got some coaches around him at North. Larry Gary (Cape High) played 7-on-7 against us all summer, and that final game against Naples will be a tough one too."
The Gators' stay in District 5A-14 this fall. Last year, they were undefeated (6-0) against district foes. They again play district rivals Dunbar, Cape Coral, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Cypress Lake, and Lemon Bay.
"We want to shock the world," Blair said. "I realize the standard is set high because of what's gone on at Island Coast before I came, but I believe we have the talent to go far."
After a preseason tussle on Friday against East Lee County, the Gators open the regular season at crosstown rival Ida Baker, which handed them one of their three defeats in 2013.