It's statement time for football at Oasis High School.
The still-fledging program is coming off a season in which it won just once in seven games and will participate this year in a modified eight-man version of the sport. A new coach brings a professional pedigree to the Sharks still anticipating a more satisfying swim.
James Magas, whose resume includes stops in both arena football and at multiple high schools within the state, was named head coach on Aug. 1. Last season's coach, Jason Bowman, resigned his position to pursue an opportunity with USA Wrestling, but will remain as the school's wrestling coach.
Oasis High junior quarterback Jeff Myers gets set to throw during a recent practice.
In the eyes of athletic director Brian Montag, the transition won't be a hindrance.
"Coach Magas has worked with these kids for some time," Montag said. "The one thing he asks for is their hard work and dedication each time they step on the field. He sees the potential in these boys and has made it known that this is the year to make a name for Oasis football."
Eight-man football differs in several ways from the traditional 11-man format, most notably due to the removal of three players from each side of the line of scrimmage. Typically, the offense is reduced by two line players and a wide receiver, while the defense does without two backfield players and a lineman. The pace of play generally is faster and scoring tends to be more frequent.
Aug. 22 - vs. Solid Rock Christian, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 - at Donahue Academy, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 - at Hernando Christian, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 - vs. Community Christian, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 - at Lakeside Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 - at Geneva, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 - at City of Life, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 - vs. FISH, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 - vs. Spring Hills, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 - vs. Bayshore, 7 p.m.
n Head coach: James Magas ('14) 1st year
n Assistants: Michael Ware, Donald Smith
n Field: Storms Complex
n Class: Independent (1st year, 8-man format)
n Playoff History: 2011 (6-man) - Academy Lakes 28, Oasis 27.
Home: 0-0 Away: 1-6
Marco Island 44, Oasis 0
vs. St. John Neumann, ccd.
Barrington Christian 34, Oasis 0
Canterbury 53, Oasis 6
St. Stephen's 40, Oasis 8
Oasis def. Northwest Christian (forfeit)
vs. Lawrence Academy, ccd.
Gateway 61, Oasis 0
C.S. Naples 55, Oasis 0
Oasis first fielded a team in a six-man format in 2009, then switched to 11-man in 2012. It played 11-man again last season, but is scaling back to eight for competitive reasons, Montag said. The Sharks will play in Region 1 of a two-region league under the auspices of the Florida Christian Association of Private & Parochial Schools (FCAPPS).
Other schools in Region 1 include Donahue Academy (Ave Maria), Spring Hill Christian (Spring Hill), Community Christian (Port Charlotte), Lakeside Christian (Clearwater), Clearwater Academy (Clearwater), Academy at the Lakes (Land O' Lakes), FISH (Brandon), Solid Rock Christian (Tarpon Springs) and Hernando Christian (Brooksville).
FCAPPS operates the two regions of eight-man football alongside a 10-team league that plays a six-man version. It began a seven-man league in 2006, and 2014 is the first year of eight-man play.
"I think the students already know they have a tough road ahead of them," Montag said. "It's not due to lack of experience, but due to the possibility the students don't feel they receive the respect they deserve. We know there are more established programs in the area, and these boys chose to help build Oasis football from the ground up. We cannot continuously compare ourselves to the other programs in the area, but rather focus our attention on establishing ourselves as a true Cape Coral football program."
Montag said eight-man is considered the long-term plan at the school for now, and the coaching staff will judge the 2014 season's success based less on wins and losses and more on sustaining enthusiasm for the program going forward.
"I want to see the kids learn something both on and off the field," he said. "Those kids who have been with our program for the last four years, I just want to see them have the best senior year anyone could hope for. I want our freshmen to walk away happy with their decision to join the team. As for the sophomores and juniors, I just want them to be eager to come back next fall."
The Sharks host Solid Rock Christian on Friday in their preseason scrimmage at the Storms Complex and open the regular season on the Road Aug. 29 at Donahue Academy.