The Teams (listed by last season’s final standings):
Naples Golden Eagles: 11-2 Overall, 4-0 District Record
The Eagles return stronger than ever, headlined by top-tier star power in Tyler Byrd and Carlin Fils-Aime, who are committed to Miami and Tennessee respectively.
Lely Trojans: 8-4 Overall, 2-0 District Record
The Trojans galloped to an 8-2 start but fell in game four to Naples High, 20-6. The one at the top that has yet to be knocked off their proverbial pedestal.
Gulf Coast Sharks: 6-6 overall, 2-2 District Record
The Sharks finished .500 but they must overcome being shut out four times altogether last season, although scoring 60-plus points in games 1-3 was a start.
Golden Gate Titans: 6-4 overall, 0-2 District Record
The Titans, part of a few lopsided affairs last season, will benefit from their narrow wins and losses much more than a series of blowout results.
Palmetto Ridge Bears: 4-6 Overall, 2-2 District Record
The Bears had five games decided by three points or less throughout the duration of their 10-game season; marginal growth seems nearer rather than further away.
Immokalee Indians: 4-7 Overall, 1-1 District Record
The Indians will need to see what they have in Abraham Alce, as they’ll be forced to replace Taeler Porter, who provided over half of their yards from scrimmage.
Barron Collier Cougars: 3-7 Overall, 2-2 District Record
Newly appointed coach Mark Jackson will have a tall task rebuilding the program, but he has lured players who stayed out of football last season to rejoin the team.
10 Can’t Miss Preps in ‘15:
1. Tyler Byrd | Naples High | Sr. | DB/WR | No. 17 | University of Miami Commit
The two-way Eagle standout comes in at No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 top 300 rankings, according to ESPN, and has been a Miami verbal since last February. But Byrd and his teammate, Carlin Fils-Aime, who just recently pledged to the Volunteers of the SEC, had hopes of sticking together into college. Will one of the nation’s best athletes stay true to his home state school, or will Byrd flip the script?
— TYLER BYRD (@D1fuzzymuffin17) July 21, 2015
2. Carlin Fils-Aime | Naples High | Sr. | RB | No. 27 | University of Tennessee Commit
The No. 138 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, according to ESPN, is Byrd’s teammate who helps form the best one-two punch in the area. A Vols’ commit as recently as July 30, Fils-Aime will look to bounce back from an injury-plagued season last year that only saw him appear in three games in his junior campaign. Watch out for the senior speedster in opposing secondaries, in his final go-around.
3. Chris Riley | Naples High | Sr. | S | No. 2 | 2014 All-Area Defensive Player of the Year
The senior safety in Riley doesn’t stake claim to the same college appeal as his aforementioned teammates yet; however, he is undeniably the heart of the Eagles defense. His leadership and ball skills are unparalleled amongst his conference peers, and high major offers are bound to come his way sooner rather than later. Cornell and Eastern Michigan have already offered, and more will come knocking.
4. Lukas Masterson | Gulf Coast | Sr. | S | No. 3 | University of Wake Forest Commit
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive stalwart for the Sharks was a wanted man with more than 12 scholarship offers to his name—most notably Iowa State and Wake Forest leading the way—but the Demon Deacons received Masterson’s verbal commitment over the Cyclones on July 27. With his recruiting out of the way, look for the ball-hawking safety to be one of the best defensive backs in the SWFL area.
— Matt Heuerman (@Heuerman_M3) May 26, 2015
5. Patrick Volcy | Golden Gate | Sr. | WR | No. 9 | Offers: UConn, UMass, Appalachian State
The Titans’ most hyped offensive threat, that stands at 6-foot-4, heads into his senior season with four collegiate offers including one from Western Illinois. Iowa State and Purdue have also shown interest in the wide receiver prospect. Last season, the standout pass-catcher hauled in five touchdowns including an 89-yard scamper to pay dirt, and added a 23.3 yards per catch average in just nine games.
6. Matt Heuerman | Barron Collier | Sr. | TE | No. 5 | Offers: Jacksonville State
The Heuerman brother legacy lives on for another year more, as the youngest of the three well-known tight ends returns to action after missing almost all of his junior season to injury. Revamped and refocused headed into his senior year, the 6-foot-6 prospect holds a single offer from FCS affiliate Jacksonville State, but the star in the making has only touched the surface of what could be. His brothers starred at Ohio State and Notre Dame respectively, and Matt looks to be gaining similar interest.
7. Jerry Nunez | Naples High | Sr. | K | No. 30 | 2014 All-Area Special Teams Player of the Year
Don’t forget about the kicker, especially the Eagles big-footed specialist. This past December, Nunez participated in Brandon Kornblue’s Kicking Challenge in Fort Lauderdale where he booted a 55-yard field goal through the uprights to take home the kicking champion award for the Class of 2016. As a junior Nunez went 4-of-7 with a long of 50 yards, displaying his elite knack for long distance success.
8. Robert Green | Naples High | Sr. | LB | No. 5 | Offers: Georgia Southern
The Eagle of the bunch that may have the most to prove in his last season at the high school ranks—in addition to Nunez—Green’s junior campaign wasn’t quite as impressive as his sophomore output. But a combined 200 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback sacks in two years was enough to have Georgia Southern offer. Now the 5-foot-11, 204-pound outside linebacker must continue to bring the heat.
9. Abraham Alce | Immokalee | So. | RB | No. 6 | The next big-time RB for the Indians
While only seeing limited playing time at the varsity level, to say the least, Taeler Porter’s incumbent is being touted as Immokalee’s next star in the Indian backfield. Although he’s faced with the tall task of replacing the all-purpose Porter, the current Indiana State ball carrier, the sophomore-to-be is every bit of his 215-pound frame. With a rare blend of power and straight-line speed, Alce is destined to break out.
10. Al Nelson | Lely | Sr. | OT/DT/NG | No. 76 | 6-foot-4, 323-pound do-it-all lineman
Lely’s mammoth two-way lineman can do it all on the field given his size, whether it’s sealing the edge on offense or flattening would-be running backs that attempt to make their way up the middle of the Trojan defense. Another year more fine-tuned to do what he does best, Nelson should help the Trojans in a big way when it comes to paving the running lanes for his backfield companions. You can’t miss him in 15’.
5 Must-See Games in 15’:
1. 8/21 | Naples High vs. St. Pete Lakewood | Week 1
The Spartans, who were 9-5 overall a season ago, will travel to Staver Field to take on the area’s most talented side in the Golden Eagles. In what will be a non-conference Kickoff Classic, onlookers will get their first chance to see what the high-octane Eagles and their star cast can produce in 2015-16.
2. 8/28 | Naples High vs. American Heritage-Delray | Week 2
Game two should prove to be another stiff test for the Eagles, who will take on a team that was a State Finalist in 2014. Once again, Staver Field will play host, and the product on the field should shine above the rest under the Friday night lights.
3. 10/9 | Naples High vs. Lely | Week 8
In what will be the 41st Annual Coconut Bowl, these two division rivals in Naples High and Lely will look to obtain local bragging rights. The Golden Eagles handed the Trojans a 20-6 loss in 2014. This year’s storyline: The Trojans vie for vengeance.
4. Barron Collier’s Trek to Rebuild a Contender
The entirety of the Cougars’ schedule will be an uphill battle for new coach Mark Jackson, formerly head coach at Estero High, where he will look to find a long-term home. In what will be the third head football-coaching job for Jackson in recent years, his pursuit to build from the ground up will be a headline to watch all season.
5. Who Can Give Naples High a Fight Atop the Standings?
For another year more, the Golden Eagles will rightfully have the target on their back in the division. Every time they step on the field, it’s a must-see affair. Boasting highlight-reel talent on both sides of the field, the Eagles will look to fly higher than ever before in their title chase. The glaring question: Can anybody knock them off?
© 2015 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.