This week’s matchup between rivals Naples and Fort Myers shapes up to be the most hyped area playoff game on the docket Friday night, especially considering the Golden Eagles eliminated the Green Wave in the 2015 playoff semifinals last season, 37-26. Two other local teams are still in the football playoff picture, Immokalee (5A) and FBA (2A), and look to extend their stay in the trek to the state title game.
Here’s the Naples Herald’s Friday night preview:
6A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Naples vs. Fort Myers – 11/18, Naples, 7:30 p.m.
What to Watch: Rushing attacks
Both Naples and Fort Myers feature the ground game in their offensive systems, the Golden Eagles (13) and Green Wave (10) combining to attempt only 23 passes in their quarterfinal games last week. The Eagles averaged 7.9 yards per carry in a 42-13 win over Lehigh compared to the Wave amassing an almost identical 7.8 yards per attempt in their 39-6 win over Barron Collier.
Who to Watch – Fort Myers: RB Darrian Felix
For the season, Darrian Felix totaled 1,224 yards rushing on 147 carries with 18 touchdowns on the ground. Last week he lifted Fort Myers with 176 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, marking his seventh game this year with multiple rushing touchdowns. Felix, a major D-I talent, reports football offers from Oregon, Miami, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida Atlantic according to ESPN.
Who to Watch – Naples: RB Chez Mellusi
The underclassman started the season as the fourth string running back on the depth chart, failing to receive his first carry of the season until Week 3, but is now the go-to guy. Mellusi led all Naples running backs versus Lehigh in Round 1, rushing five times for 121 yards and two touchdowns, which included a 61-yard score. His greatest asset is his speed, breaking off the long run with regularity.
5A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Immokalee (7-4) at Dunbar (9-2) – 11/18, Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.
What to Watch: Familiar foes
This will be the third time this season Immokalee and Dunbar have collided, as the Indians first lost to Dunbar 41-26 five weeks ago and then again in a three-way district tiebreaker recently, cueing a winner after a single quarter per FHSAA rules. The old adage says it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season, making this third go-around an intriguing clash between a pair of very familiar opponents.
Who to Watch – Immokalee: WR/DB Shedro Louis
Shedro Louis has been doing it all season long, scoring five touchdowns in a 60-42 loss at Naples in Week 4 – four touchdown receptions on offense and a 70-plus-yard interception return on defense. The two-way star rose to the occasion again in last Friday night’s 42-39 win over Hardee, pairing a 30-yard touchdown catch with a 50-yard interception return for a score. He’ll have to be the difference again to win.
Who to Watch – Dunbar: DE Rocky Jacques-Louis
Rocky, who stars for Dunbar along with his twin brother Shocky, has 95 tackles and 26 sacks in his junior campaign thus far – a sack total that puts him in elite company with the second highest mark in the nation, only two takedowns behind the leader. In addition, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jacques-Louis has 17 tackles for loss and a single fumble recovery, with the size to run down quarterbacks and backs alike.
2A REGIONAL FINALS
First Baptist Academy (8-3) at Champagnat Catholic (9-1) – 11/18, Hialeah, 7:30 p.m.
What to Watch: High-Scoring FBA
Since losing its first two games of the regular season, the FBA football team has topped the 40-point mark in all but a loss to Melbourne Central Catholic in the regular-season finale. In those eight wins, the Lions averaged 47.3 points per contest. The Lions have a common opponent with Champagnat Catholic, who beat Community School of Naples 34-31 last week, while FBA beat the Seahawks 54-7.
Who to Watch – FBA: RB Jayce Howell
The senior has put up video game numbers in 2016, rushing for 1,559 yards and 25 touchdowns—good for 9.8 yards per carry for the season. A senior, the Lions’ top playmaker had three games where he topped 200 yards in a single game in addition to five games with three or more touchdowns on the ground. With 143 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries last week, Howell still has yet to be stopped.
Who to Watch – Champagnat Catholic: Defense
With FBA’s ability to run the ball behind 200-pound-plus Joe Sparacio and Blane Briggs, the two-headed fullback tandem that clears the way for the aforementioned Jayce Howell, it’s going to take a total defensive effort from the host Lions. That’s especially true for a team that allowed 31 points to Community School of Naples last week compared to FBA’s defense which held CSN to just seven points as mentioned.
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