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High school football season kicks off tonight

August 23, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Now that that referee controversy has been squared away, Friday night lights are back in Lee County, as programs can now focus on asserting their dominance on the football field and battle for district supremacy.

Tonight will be a true test for squads around the area -- many that did not get a tune-up game as the referee strike halted preseason previews of what's to come this year.

Cape Coral head coach Dale More said his team is ready to go, as the Seahawks take on a team that did have a preseason game and went farther than any Lee County team last season, North Fort Myers.

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"Well, every game is meaningful, I feel," More said when asked if he's happy to be playing meaningful games, as the entire county's schedule was in jeopardy just last week. "Anytime that we can showcase our kids to the community is a great opportunity for us. That being said, the kids and coaches are excited to get out there and start our non-district schedule as we build our team for the district games."

The Seahawks (5-5 in 2018) look to topple an impressive program in the Red Knights (9-4 in 2018), led by second-year head coach Dwayne Mack.

Cape went undefeated the first five games of the year until injuries plagued the team and things went downhill.

More hopes tonight's game will give him a glimpse into what he can expect from his young men.

"It's the first game of the season for us," More said. "We didn't get an opportunity to 'knock the rust off' with a preseason game, so we have a lot of evaluating to do as we find our identity as a team for the 2019 season."

He's looking forward to taking on a Red Knights squad that made it to the third round of the state playoffs last year, and is hungry to make a deeper run this season.

"North Fort Myers is a great opponent to start our season, they are well coached and have great athletes. We are looking forward to the challenge," More said.

North will visit Cape in this tilt. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Mariner head coach Travis Smith will look to improve from an up and down 2018 campaign. The Tritons' (5-5 in 2018) offense was solid last year, and they hope to rely on senior playmakers to ascend in their new district, that also includes Cape Coral.

Smith, like many coaches in the area, was deprived of a chance to see some of his players in a live atmosphere -- a frustrating hurdle when trying to evaluate talent.

"Last week would have been meaningful because we would have had a better opportunity to evaluate our players. However, we are very excited to get the season going," Smith said.

Mariner will be taking on rival Ida Baker (1-9 in 2018) at home tonight, and Smith is ready to take on the longtime foe.

"All of our players and coaches are extremely excited to get this season under way, and hosting crosstown rival Ida Baker as our first game makes this Friday even more special," said Smith.

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 last season, but could not duplicate the effort.

"It feels great to get started finally," Faucette said.

Heading into the tonight's game, the head coach said he's feeling "calm and confident."

The Bulldogs are looking to change the culture, and Faucette said tonight's game is the perfect opportunity.

"Absolutely," Faucette said when asked if this is a chance to make a statement out of the gate. "No one is giving us a chance."

Kickoff is at Mariner at 7 p.m.

Oasis will look to start the season on a high note, as the Sharks (5-4 in 2018) take on Lakeland Christian (6-5 in 2018) on the road at 7:30 p.m.

"It feels exciting," said head coach Mack Mitchell. "The boys have been working all off-season for the 10 Fridays they are about to encounter. Now it's time to put those efforts to the test in each game."

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 emotions going into tonight's contest?

"Excitement and eagerness to play," Mitchell said.

Island Coast (3-7 in 2018) will take on Lely (2-8 in 2018) at home at 7 p.m.

"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," said Gators' head coach Jim Wiseman earlier this month. "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.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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