IT WAS A LONG DECEMBER FOR THE WES T COAS T IN 2012 AS a pair of state title favorites, Manatee and Immokalee, came up short in their championship quests. St. Thomas Aquinas shocked consensus national No. 1
Manatee in the Class 7A state semifinals while Immokalee muffed
a potential game-tying extra point with no time remaining against
Godby in the Class 5A finale.
While the Hurricanes and Indians graduated tons of talent, both
figure to be back in the state title mix this season, joined by a loaded
Venice squad and perennial Lee County power South Fort Myers.
Behind a dominant rushing attack that averaged nearly 350
yards per game, First Baptist won a school-record 12 games and
advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals in 2012.
The Lions are changing up an offense that averaged less than
eight passes per game last season to maximize the talents of
6-foot- 1, 153-pound sophomore quarterback Tyler Dean, whose
father is Collier County legend Terry Dean.
The elder Dean, an All-State quarterback and 3,000-yard passer at
Barron Collier in the late 1980s, played four years at Florida, winning
an SEC title and the Sugar Bowl in 1993. Dean is also an assistant
coach at First Baptist, which in just its fifth varsity season, is quickly
becoming one of the state’s top small-school programs.
LOADED WITH TALENT
Since reopening in 2001, Dunbar has annually showcased some
of the area’s best skill position players. This year’s team, however,
is the most explosive in the program’s history and could propel the
Tigers into the Class 5A state title mix.
Junior quarterback Daniel Cobb is the area’s most athletic
signal-caller and if healthy, could pass for 1,500 yards and rush for
1,000. Wide receivers Ryeshene Bronson and Joe Williams, both
FBS recruits, form the best tandem on the West Coast. Running
backs Bob Rice and Marquise Bryant are threats to score from
anywhere on the field.
Add it up and this is a team that should average 40 points per
game and will be a must-see on Friday nights.
D’Ernest Johnson, Immokalee
Plenty of high school football teams face an annual struggle
to find a competent kicker, scouting soccer fields for promising
projects. Ida Baker found its kicker in an odd place: the school’s
annual faculty versus students kickball tournament.
There’s where senior Filander Barahona first came to the Bulldogs’ attention. Coaches talked the novice into joining the team
for spring football and he proved up to the challenge, going 5-for- 5
on extra points and booting two touchbacks in Baker’s exhibition
loss to Naples.
Barahona’s addition could be the final piece that helps the Bull-
dogs return to the state playoffs for just the second time in the
Photo by Aplus
ALL-WEST COAST TEAM
QB Dom Marino
RB D’Ernest Johnson
RB Terry Polk
WR Ryeshene Bronson Dunbar
WR Jimmy Bayes
TE Nick Nataro
OL Josh Rimes
OL Levi Walton
OL Daniel Oak
OL Joe Gold
OL Jacob Stickler
UT Daniel Cobb
South Fort Myers
DL Brady Pallante
DL Demarcus Christmas Manatee
DL Joshua Kendall
DL Fritz Desire
LB Brian Donnelly
LB Christian Banasiak Island Coast
LB D’Ronzjiah Matthews South Fort Myers
DB Kendall Sawyer
East Lee County
DB J.C. Jackson
DB Tajze Battle
DB Tyler Byrd
UT Dwayne Reynolds
TOP 5 TEAMS
1MANATEE: Hard to believe but the Hurricanes’ offense could be even better
in 2013 without Class 7A Player of the Year