WATCH: Gateway Charter and Mariner highlights
Laz Rogers led the Griffins with two touchdowns in their 38-28 win over the Tritons Wednesday at Tony McKenna Field
Izubee Charles, Fort Myers News-Press
Gateway Charter 38, Mariner 28
With eight minutes left in the second quarter, Gateway Charter head coach Benjamin Daley’s Griffin team were down 21-6 and had their backs to the wall early on.
After a third straight touchdown from the Tritons, Daley had an easy message for his team to try and get them back in the ballgame.
“Go on,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a slow start but I told them to play four quarters and I say it will pay off in the end. We went down with cramps and things like that, but they kept fighting.”
The news went down well with the Griffins as they had 26 unanswered points before halftime, leading them to a 38-28 win over the Tritons at Tony McKenna Field on Wednesday night.
The initial spark for the 26-point run of the Gateway Charter was running back Lazaro Rogers. His 80-yard touchdown streak was just what the Griffins needed after giving up 21 straight points.
“We had to come back and keep fighting,” Rogers said. “I just kept saying that and keeping the same mentality. I had to get my offensive lineman on point and I told them to keep their heads up because I love them and I need them because I’m nothing without them.
Rogers rushed for over 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Griffins backfield, which saw a rotation of three backs including Rogers, Walter Tucker and Deveon Simmons.
Mariner quarterback Justin Lewis dealt with the Tritons early as he met Marcus Kelley twice in the first two quarters to give the Tritons the early advantage. Despite the early success, the Tritons had some trouble holding the ball and made four turnovers that would end up costing them dearly.
“When we executed, we were successful,” said Mariner head coach Josh Nicholson. “If we were trying to do something that wasn’t there, or trying to make a game that wasn’t there, or trying to do too much, then we made mistakes.”
What 3 things did Gateway Charter learn?
1. If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now. Rogers, who has a pair of offers from USF and Bethune Cookman, showed his speed, power, agility and balance from the opening kick for the Griffins.
“Even more than his skills, he performs as a leader and performs off the field,” Daley said.
2. The Griffins have found their quarterback. From ball boy to starting quarterback, EJ Monteagudo proved he can be the Griffins’ long-term answer under center after throwing two touchdowns and adding one on the floor.
“Very proud of this young man,” said Daley. “We actually had left our quarterback just before spring, so we sort of climbed and he performed.”
3. Scott Elie had a night in the trenches. Whether on offense or defence, Elie’s presence was felt throughout the game. He could be found in the Tritons backfield all night or 10 yards downfield earning pancake blocks.
“This is huge for us,” Daley said. “Making these big games, leaning into them and all of that just gives momentum.”
What 3 things did Mariner learn?
1. Justin Lewis is a true dual threat quarterback. The up-and-coming junior managed early on for the Tritons, linking with Marcus Kelley twice for touchdowns as well as a rushing.
2. The receiving core is strong for mariners: The Tritons have three solid receiving options in Kelley, Kelvin Jimenez and Noah Tolbert.
“The playmakers made plays,” Nicholson said.
3. The offensive line had tough stretches: The big boys up front for the Tritons had their ups and downs throughout Wednesday’s matchup. The Griffins’ pass rush caused trouble for Lewis, forcing him out of the pocket several times throughout the night.
— Izubee Charles
Labelle 31, Oasis 7
The Cowboys left the field at Caloosa Park hugging and feeling happy after a big win that suggested hope of a turnaround after last year’s 1-7 campaign.
Kruz Jimenez caught his first of two interceptions on play two and carried them 37 yards to the end zone, putting LaBelle immediately ahead.
Jimenez showed his offensive side in the second quarter, catching a 39-yard touchdown pass from Ty Murray. Later in the period, Maurice McClain hit it on a 3-yard run. A free kick from Diego Acosta made it 21-0 at half-time.
Bryan Aburto-Escobedo kicked a 25-yard field goal to make it 24-0 in the third.
The Cowboys made another pick-six in the fourth quarter when Calvin Miller caught the ball 79 yards and returned it for a touchdown.
Oasis struggled to get their offense going for most of the game and suffered a number of lost passes, including some in the end zone. However, they found some rhythm late in the fourth.
What 3 things did LaBelle learn?
1. The Cowboys took a big step to leave their hometown behind by winning a game on the road. After the game was over, new head coach Maurice McClain Sr. brought members of the LaBelle community over to participate in the post-game gathering. McClain and defensive coordinator Hal Bennett were teammates at LaBelle in the mid-1990s, when football games were more of a town-wide event.
“We want Friday Night Lights back in LaBelle,” McClain said. “I remember playing and[Bennett]knows when you look in the stands and you see packed stands it feels unreal, man. It’s a very good feeling and we’re trying to get that back.”
2. There can be a double threat at quarterback. Pocket passer Ty Murray and fast rusher Isaac Santamaria both had some success at the position. If both can continue to perform well in McClain’s system, they could unbalance opposing defenses.
“If it works, we’ll both ride until the wheels fall off,” McClain said.
Murray showed he can throw the deep ball accurately, as demonstrated by his touchdown pass to Jimenez. Santamaria didn’t have any chances to score, but he was able to show his versatility with drives.
“He’s like a jackknife to us,” McClain said. “(Santamaria) can play quarterback, he can also go to the slot and catch the ball.”
3. Bennett’s defense system has proven itself, as evidenced by the performance of the children who have grown up with it. The linebackers and secondary quickly converged on ball carriers and route running receivers. This wreaked havoc on the Sharks, who saw many of their passes aborted or dropped by receivers who sensed the approaching cover.
“You can tell there are some people who have been at it for 3 years and are running it themselves. I was very impressed with them,” said Bennett.
What 3 things did Oasis learn?
1. The Sharks have the potential to be successful in the passing game. Quarterback Parker Smith, a rising sophomore, demonstrated that he can shoot deep with some accuracy. His freshman year was cut short by an injury, but from what he’s seen, Oasis coach Jason Grain expects good things to come this fall.
“He’s a straight A student, very cerebral, good arm talent, very tough,” Grain said. “He has a lot of courage.”
2. The offensive line is going through some adjustments after losing some players this offseason. Grain plans to work on iterations to address these adjustments over the summer. “It’s the time at the line of scrimmage where you can improve the most,” he said.
3. The defense played what Grain described as “very inspired football”: Despite falling behind before they even got the field, they weren’t afraid to attack the backfield and force some tackles for yards lost.
– David Montrose