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Talking some football

Coaches, players provide preseason peek at 2019 high school season

August 2, 2019
By CJ HADDAD (cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

High school football is back in Lee County.

Players in Cape Coral and around the area are strapping on the pads and lacing up their cleats for another season on the gridiron, as the first official practices took place this past week.

The Cape Coral Breeze sat down with coaches and players in Lee County's West Zone to talk about the upcoming season, their goals, aspirations and what it's going to take to make a statement.

We asked each team the same five questions to ensure a level playing field and to gain insight on each program's mind set as we are mere weeks away from football every Friday night under the lights.

Cape Coral (2018 record: 5-5)

Head coach: Dale More

Started off 5-0 before a string of injuries plagued the team, causing a second-half collapse.

Now part of 5A District 13 from 6A District 10 last season.

Players interviewed: Adrian Medacco (RB), Drew Bernard (C/NT), Hunter Wilson(LT/NT).

What are your goals for the season?

DM: "I think our goals are, as a team and as a program, to take another step. We improved on our record last year from the previous year -- we want to improve to this next one. Our goal is to try and win the district. I think everyone in 5A in our area has the exact same goal. I think every team is equal. It should be a really fun season -- should be an exciting time for 5A football down here. Our goal right now is to win the district and play together. We're going to have quite a few younger guys playing. By the time we get to the district schedule we hope to be fairly experienced."

DB: "A district title is definitely my No.1 goal my senior year."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

DM: "I just think our kids need to buy into one another. I really do believe that. I think if we can buy into one another and they can buy into their coaching, then I think everything else will take care of itself. You know, football is a funny sport that way. It's not always the best team that plays every single week, it's the team that plays for one another and keeps fighting."

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

DM: "Our philosophy is to help these young men become men. It's just that. This is bigger than football. I think that's a really common thing for people to say and I think it's also common for coaches to say, 'I want to build character and morals and ethics into our players.' I truly live by that. I truly do. We do our best to not talk on the field, we do our best to pick the guy back up after and just play football and not have all the 'extra' stuff. That is really our focus. And our philosophy is that -- to make these guys better people."

AM: "If you can buy into what they're saying and be coachable, you can really succeed."

Who or what group of players are you looking to for big contributions this season?

DM: "We expect good things out of our quarterback position. We're going to do something that I've never really done before, but we're going to play two quarterbacks. We have a senior, Isaiah Graham (Island Coast last season), who has walked on the field and led by what he does and his effort, and people are starting to look to him because of how hard he works, not because of how much he talks. He's done a great job. We also have Duncan Smith (quarterback), who's a nice rising sophomore. Now, they're not on a pitch count, it's going to be hot hand in the fourth quarter, but for the first three, it's going to be shared and I think our quarterback position gives us great opportunities to make plays. One of our strengths really ought to be our offensive line, we're returning four of the five. We expect Adrian Medacco to carry the load for us as well. Bailey Garcia is one of the leaders on our defense, he's a linebacker. I don't care where you are on the field, game or practice, you know when he hits somebody."

Why should teams not want to play Cape Coral this season?

DM: "We're going to be a physical football program. We're not going to quit. We play four quarters whether we're up or we're down. We're going to be disciplined and play with class."

HW: "We're not going to back down easy. No matter what the score is, we're always going to keep on fighting."

Mariner (2018 record 5-5)

Head coach: Travis Smith

The Tritons had an up and down season last year, but look to benefit from a change in district (now 5A).

Work-horse running back and senior Cade Reynolds, alongside play-making junior Tavin Ward, look to carry Mariner to a successful season.

Senior quarterback Dylan Hinz will also look to improve off of last season.

The Tritons will work to establish an offense without the presence of last year's top senior, Rashawn Hunter.

Players interviewed: Christopher Campbell (T/DT), Cade Reynolds (RB), Dylan Silverman (QB), Dylan Hinz (UT), Alonzo Richardson (DE/TE)

What are your goals for the season?

TS: "To come together as a family and play as a team. Our No.1 goal every game is to play as a team. If we do the little things right, big things take care of themself."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

CR: "Getting our offense together and becoming one unit to power through anything."

DH: "Goals are commitment. We need everyone to commit 100 percent."

TS: "Depth. Depth at every position. We've got a great starting crew and pretty decent twos coming up behind them. But you know how it is in the regular season, you get injuries and stuff like that -- we're just trying to develop younger players so they can step into those roles in case something does happen. It's been an issue for us every year since I've been a head coach -- depth at every position."

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

TS: "Definitely a lot of accountably. But, at the end of the day, it's treat them like they're your son, love them like they're your own kid and just strive to make each and every kid that comes into this program, that when they come out of this program they're a better human being. Our coaches buy into that. This year we are focusing a little more on mental and physical toughness, but like I said, at the end of the day it's all about love for the kids and being a part of helping shape our community."

DS: "They've definitely help me grow up, mature and become a better man."

AR: "The coaches have helped me just be a better person in general. They've always been there -- like family."

Who or what group of players are you looking to for big contributions this season?

TS: "Definitely on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, our skill set knows what's going on, they know what to get done. Offensive line knows what's expected from them. Definitely getting a lot more physical on defense, be better tacklers and really put a focus on special teams this year, too."

Why should teams not want to play Mariner this season?

TS: "We're going to be physical. From the start of the game to the end of the game. We're definitely going to be physical every single snap."

CC: "We'll be pushing the gas the whole game. Non-stop physicality. Smash-mouth football, what else could you ask for from Mariner?"

DH: "We'll be in great shape by the time the season comes. By the time they're tired in the fourth quarter, we'll still be ready to play."

AR: "Our defense, we've got some gnarly dudes out there."

North Fort Myers High School (2018 record: 9-4 lost to Naples in the third round of the state tournament)

Head Coach: Dwayne Mack

The Red Knights were one of the best teams in Lee County in 2018. Led by spark-plug Shomari Mason and Jesse Charles, North will look to continue their dominance in 6A without the aforementioned graduates, as well as wide receiver Clayton Savinsky -- the single-season receiving yards record holder at NFM.

Transfers Parker Odell (QB) and Terry Lindsey (RB) will look to fill the holes Mason and Charles left when they graduated this spring.

Mack, heading into his second season at the helm, will look to coach-up a roster that knows what it's like to have success, but is still hungry for more.

Players interviewed: Blaise Sparks (OL), Parker Odell (QB), Daniel Pilgrim (WR/DE), Vincent Husband (LB)

What are your goals for the season?

DM: "To be a family. Life-long relationships, life-long experiences, great academics and to win games, in that order, too. As coaches, we create life-long memories, life-long relationships with these guys, make sure that they're taken care of from an academic standpoint, the winning, the fourth thing, will automatically take care of itself. I just firmly believe that kids, willing to run through a wall for you, I mean, its simple."

BS: "I just want to make the playoffs and make a run at state."

VH: "Same here, I just want to make state and go far into the playoffs."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

DM: "Well we had a lot of guys graduate, but we played a lot of 10th graders as well. I also think that game experience will help."

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

DM: "I'm very blessed to have five head coaches on the staff. If I have a question or need anything addressed, I'm able to lean on them. For the players, at the end of the day, football is going to end. As long as you have discipline and some kind of driving motivation, that will take you far in life. Academics are important. A lot of these guys want to go to college. Use football to get you to college and get you that degree, no matter what the level."

PO: "The coaching staff is just a family. I feel I can talk to them about anything, it's just a big ol' family."

Who or what group of players are you looking to for big contributions this season?

DM: "I rely on senior leadership. It's my job to get (something from) these seniors. But the thing is -- we make it a point in society that you need to be a senior to be a leader -- not necessarily. You can be a leader as a sophomore, a junior, if you produce. Leadership isn't about talking, it's about do-ing. I think Xs and Os, it is what it is, everyone has great Xs and Os on scheme, but, do the kids care for each other? Do they honestly care? Does your team get along? Do they care for the coaching staff and does the coaching staff care for them? That's what I think is important."

Why should teams not want to play North Fort Myers this season?

DM: "On a competitive note, everyone should want to play everyone. If you don't want to play a team, then you're not competitive. Every team should want to play us, every team should want to play Cape or Mariner, that's the beauty of the game."

DP: "We're ready to compete against anybody."

VH: "We're tough. We're disciplined. We're conditioned. We'll go out there and play as hard as we can all four quarters."

Ida Baker High School

(2018 record: 1-9)

Head Coach: Chuck Faucette

Ida Baker hired new head coach Chuck Faucette in the offseason after deciding to part ways with Todd Nichols.

Faucette will look to get the Bulldogs back on track and in the win column in the competitive 6A district after Ida Baker found it week 1 of last season, but could not duplicate the effort.

Players interviewed: Jacob Holbrook (DL/HB), Ivan Macksyine (DT), Vitico Mieses (RB/S), Angel Alverio III (MLB), Eric Swanson II (QB), Nick Carter (TE).

What are your goals for the season?

CF: "I expect these guys to come out and play hard -- finish, execute, and we expect to win. I've got great kids, these kids bought in from day one. They understand the importance of being dependable and being accountable and it's been a pleasure to work with them and I'm happy to see the success we've had in such a short time and the progress we've made in the past four months."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

CF: "Right now, I think we just need to be able to adapt quicker to different things. I think toughness wise, I'm not worried about our toughness, I'm not worried about competing. I'm just worried about our adaption and being able to fight through adversity -- things like that, that we're working on every day and getting some confidence."

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

CF: "There's a process. Every coach has a process or a routine. I stick more to a regiment or routine on how we do things. I think these guys got acclimated to it really fast, that's why we got off to a great start and they bought into what we're doing. Everybody needs to do their job. Everybody needs to know their role and accept their role. The biggest thing is working on chemistry. The Xs and Os will come. It's the chemistry. It's important that they care about each other and know that I care about them."

IM: "I've learned to buy into the program, show up consistently, not missing days and sticking together as a family, that's how you be successful."

ES: "I feel that coach has instilled -- I can't get things wrong the first time. To be successful, there's no room for little errors, you have to get it right."

Who or what group of players are you looking to for big contributions this season?

CF: "I think our offense and defensive line are going to be the key for us. Defensively, we've got six guys in the rotation that could all play and start at any time -- which is great. They're going to have to get after it. Defensively we want to stop the run, they have to have that attitude. Offensively, we've got to be able to control the football and run the ball. It's old school stuff, that's just the way it is, it works. We've got to do the little things -- the alignments, not jumping offside, getting out of the huddle. When we get proficient, we become a machine and when they believe it, that's when we see success."

Why should teams not want to play Ida Baker this season?

CF: "Because they're going to be in a football game. They better be ready. It's not the same old Ida Baker, it's not going to be like that."

JH: "We're not going down without a fight. We're going to give it all we've got."

AA: "Because our defense is scary."

NC: "We're not the doorstep of Cape Coral anymore. It's going to be a physical fight each game."

Island Coast High School (2018 record 3-7)

Head Coach: Jim Wiseman

Island Coast lost its first six games of the 2018 season, but finished strong winning three out of the last four games that was ignited with a tough-fought 3-0 victory over Cape Coral.

Jim Wiseman is now in his second season as head coach of the Gators and is looking to improve on last seasons fifth place finish in district 6A, but may have some momentum on his side.

Players interviewed: Mathis Wright (DE/LT), Brady Porvaznik (TE), Jordan Smith (WR/DB/S), Jason Joseph (QB), Willie Brown (WR/DB).

What are your goals for the season?

JW: "The goal is to go out there and play hard every snap, play as a team, fight to the death, get after our opponents -- and at the end of the 48 minutes we'll look at the scoreboard and see if we have more points. We're going to go play by play, game by game, we haven't circled any opponents, just one game at a time, one play at a time.

WB: "Our goal is to come together as a team and shock everyone -- prove that we've been working hard and show everyone the time and effort we've put in to be what we're becoming."

JJ: "I feel like we're just going to play hard every game."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

JW: "I think every team needs to have that one win. In the past, there hasn't been much success for these guys. And when you keep talking about building and winning and being an elite program, it always takes that one game where you have a breakthrough, and that's what we're looking for, we're looking for that one game where we can look at ourself and say, 'We deserve to be here.'"

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

JW: "What we try to teach them and help them understand is, that it is a game, that it's not life completely, but we want them to put everything into it and realize that they can become something working together. We teach that regardless of the scoreboard that you play hard for each other every snap. It's a brotherhood. We're a family and families never desert each other. Crunch time is when you need that. If the game is on the line, and you're strong brothers, you're going to pull for that brother. I want them to set personal goals, but at the same time realize that we have to get w's, w's are what matter the most."

BP: "Before coach got here, it wasn't really a family, it was just a bunch of individuals just playing for themselves. Coach implementing (a better environment) is really helpful."

Who or what group of players are you looking to for big contributions this season?

JW: "I really don't have a group or expectation. In the team meeting this morning, I told them to dream. I don't have a group that I need to set apart to help us win. If every athlete, to themselves (said), 'I'm going to play my best this play,' things will happen. I say to our receivers all the time that you may not get the ball during the game, you may get the ball every time, but it doesn't matter, you play that snap hard and good things can happen from that."

Why should teams not want to play Ida Baker this season?

JW: "We're going to hit people in the mouth this year. We're going to be physical. We're going to be the aggressors. We're not going to sit back and let teams push us around. That doesn't mean we're going to win -- if the opponent is better than us, we're not going to back down. We're going to stay after you for 48 minutes. We're going to be relentless, that's going to be our motto."

MW: "No team should want to play us because we're going to bring it to them all four quarters and be aggressive."

JS: "We're going to come out every quarter the same, no matter what quarter it is, we're going to come hard at them."

Oasis High School (2018 record 5-4)

Head Coach: Mack Mitchell

Mitchell is in his second year as head coach for the Sharks, who finished in the middle of the pack of a crowded 4A Region 3 district last season.

Now, Oasis will be a part of 3A Region 3 in the upcoming season.

The Sharks have a solid foundation to work from, including QB Daniel Rennie and running back Tanner Rennie who will lead the way offensively.

Oasis started strong last season, going 5-1 through the first six games until dropping their final three contests.

Mitchell was not immediately available for comment, assistant offensive coordinator and QB coach, Collin Saring, answered our questions.

What are your goals for this season?

CS: "Consistently developing discipline is our team ideology this season and also our biggest goal. We are taking everything with our program one day at a time and focusing on one game at a time. We plan to have an explosive offense, a dominate defense and a tenacious special teams to help us win, one game at a time."

What is the biggest hurdle you feel your team needs to overcome heading into the regular season?

CS: "The biggest hurdle going into this season is meshing the young talent with the veteran players and making it all click. The freshman class coming into our program this year, along with a few new faces, is filled with talent and majority of them will make an impact this year, so getting them up to speed and ready for week one is a hurdle to overcome."

What is the coaching/team philosophy for you and your staff?

CS: "'Consistently Developing Discipline,' which is a huge part of what we want to get out of our program and athletes. Winning games is a priority for us, but preparing these young men to be great people in society and do things the right way on a consistent basis is what we are about."

Who are you looking to for big contributions this season?

CS: "Daniel Rennie and Tanner Rennie are two of our returning players that we hope to produce consistently for us on Friday nights. We also look forward to seeing Jeron Newson (WR/DB/ATH), Jaelin Willis (LB/TE), Ryan Loyd (TE/DE), Elijah St. Germain (WR/DE) and incoming freshman Levontai 'Bo' Summersett (WR/DB/ATH)."

Why should teams not want to play Oasis?

CS: "We don't really concern ourselves with what other teams think, we just need to focus on what we can control. The energy we bring to the field, the swag that we have every play, the relentlessness to finish until the clock hits 0:00, we want to win all three phases of the game and be consistent in what we do."

Each teams Week 1 match-ups are as follows:

Ida Baker at Mariner on 8/23 at 7 p.m.

Lely at Island Coast on 8/23 at 7 p.m.

Oasis at Lakeland Christian on 8/23 at 7:30 p.m.

Cape Coral High School at North Fort Myers on 8/24 at 7 p.m.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

 
 
 

 

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