THE POSTSEASON PROVED TO BE A GRAVEYARD FOR THE West Coast in 2013 with just two teams – Port Charlotte and South Fort Myers – advancing to the third round of their respective state playoff classes.
For the second consecutive year, the region’s consensus No. 1
team – Manatee – suffered a surprising postseason setback, this
time to Fort Pierce Central in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
Expect a much better showing from a reloaded region this fall.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
For the first time since 1981, Southeast High School will have a
head coach other than Paul Maechtle patrolling its sideline. The
61-year-old coach retired after guiding the Seminoles to a 283-
105 record and back-to-back state titles in 1993-’ 94 during his 33
seasons at the helm.
Southeast reached the state championship game five times
under Maechtle, while also capturing eight regional titles and 17
district crowns during a stretch that saw the Seminoles win
44 consecutive district games.
The opening of Lakewood Ranch and Braden River
slowly chipped away at Southeast’s former dominance
and the Seminoles mustered just a 3-7 mark in Maechtle’s final season. However, the team did manage to
send him out with a victory, upsetting playoff-bound
Palmetto 34-26 in his final game.
EX-NFL PLAYERS TRANSITION TO
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ear-
nest Graham and ex-Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions
cornerback Alphonso Smith are the latest pros selected
to run Florida high school programs.
Last season, 28 ex-NFL players were head football
Graham, a Mariner graduate, takes over a Red
Knights program that hasn’t posted a winning
record or reached the playoffs since 2006. A first-time head coach, Graham spent part of the early
spring period visiting other high school programs
to observe how they conducted practice.
One of those excursions was to Sarasota Riverview
where Graham’s ex-Bucs teammate Todd Johnson has led his alma
mater since 2011.
Smith, a Pahokee graduate and another first-time head coach,
takes the reins at Moore Haven, which won 15 of 21 games the
past two season but hasn’t earned a playoff victory since 1997.
MACK ATTACK FOR TARPONS
At a program recently known for producing standout running
backs (Mike Bellamy and Clyde Newton), Elijah Mack appears to
be Charlotte’s latest backfield star.
The 5-foot- 11, 195-pound junior, who joined the Tarpons late
last fall after transferring from the Imagine School, had a breakout
performance in Charlotte’s 47-28 spring win at Dunbar.
Mack carried 31 times for 297 yards and scored four
touchdowns, torching an above-average Tigers’
defense that allowed a shade over 18 points per
game last season.
With a large and imposing offensive line
leading the way, Mack could be in line for
a huge season, something the Tarpons
would surely welcome. Charlotte’s inconsistent running game was the biggest
culprit behind its district runner-up
finish to rival Port Charlotte in 2013.
rt i r u
fi a C a te 0
QB Sage Attwood Ida Baker
RB Karan Higdon Sarasota Riverview
RB Carlin Fils-Aime Naples
WR Kelvin McKnight Manatee
WR Tyler Byrd Naples
WR Daniel Cobb Dunbar
OL Tyree St. Louis IMG Academy
OL Tyler Gauthier Venice
OL Wyatt Knopfke Cardinal Mooney
OL Marcus Brown Lely
OL Grant Polk Charlotte
AP Deondre Francois IMG Academy
DL Ryan Fines Manatee
DL Marlon Gonzalez North Fort Myers
DL Wesley Docsol Immokalee
DL Joe Hernandez Clewiston
LB Ty Tyler Charlotte
LB Max Joseph Naples
LB Ben Chisholf Venice
LB Ha’Raujhe James Dunbar
DB Willie Overstreet Ida Baker
DB Craig Bain Lakewood Ranch
DB Malik Vaccaro-Dixon Port Charlotte
DB Tajze Battle Dunbar
ALL-WEST COAST TEAM
PHOTO BY CYNDI L. HENRY
4. South Fort Myers
6. Port Charlotte
8. Island Coast
9. Fort Myers
PROGRAM TO WATCH:
PLAYER TO WATCH:
Darrian Felix, Fort Myers
BEST FRIDAY NIGHT
Staver Field, Naples
TOP 10 TEAMS
DARRIAN FELIX, FORT MYERS