Summer practices have finally reached their edge and regular season high school football is upon us. With the lights shining their brightest once again on Friday night, Palmetto Ridge comes into the season with some new weapons on their roster.
With a new offense and new defense on hand ahead of a challenging 2017 schedule, the Bears added Lely transfer Jacquez Carter who accounted for 31 touchdowns last season. Despite having to learn a new offense, Carter is up for the challenge.
“It’s fun I’ll tell you that,” Carter said. “We got a running game that’s pretty powerful and a great O-line that’s return four starters from last year. Passing game is looking pretty nice also so it’s a nice one-two punch.”
Palmetto Ridge also added a Gulf Coast transfer in running back Demarcus Townsend, a 3-star recruit with a handful of Division I offers including Michigan State, Baylor, Tennessee, and UCLA.
Opening the season on the road against Riverdale on Sept. 1, the Bears coaching staff turned its attention to developing a new offense and defense during the offseason.
With the struggles a new offense and defense can bring to the table when presented to a team, head coach Chris Toukonen mentioned how the Bears chemistry has grown over the summer while learning their new playbooks.
“Obviously a little bit different offense and defense this year,” Toukonen said. “With 19 days of practice in the spring I don’t expect them to be perfect but they’ve grown a lot as a team over the summer.”
Competing mostly in Naples despite having three opponents from Lee County, the Bears will take on North Fort Myers, South Fort Myers, Immokalee, Barron Collier and Gulf Coast at home, while facing Riverdale, Estero, Naples, Golden Gate and Lely on the road.
Looking to keep Naples from repeating as district champions from last year, Carter is looking to become a leader in his first year with the Bears. In order to bring Palmetto Ridge a district championship, Carter stressed he wants to take things one step at a time.
“We gotta take things one game at a time, not focus on the opponent and take things play by play is all I say,” Carter said. “I can’t let myself get down and I can’t let the team let the team see myself get down so I just gotta keep those guys up.”
While facing a tough district schedule is a daunting task to face already, the Bears will take on two Lee County powerhouses in North Fort Myers and South Fort Myers. Regardless of who their opposition is, Toukonen mentioned the team has one goal.
“Our goal is to play 16 games,” Toukonen said. “Our goal is to play 16 games and win the last one. Obviously we gotta take it week by week, look to execute and look to get better every week.”
Follow along as the #CountdowntoFootball continues until next Friday’s jamboree games
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