By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
The time for Monday’s rescheduled game between Cape Coral and Port Charlotte at Port Charlotte has been moved up to 7 p.m. from its original 7:30 time announced Friday night following the game’s postponement.
Port Charlotte Athletic Director Bob Bruglio said the switch was in an effort to get students home earlier on a school night.
The district contest between the schools was moved to Monday over concerns for the safety of players and spectators following potential threats of violence possibly resulting from an altercation between Cape Coral students and players, according Mike Reilly, spokesperson for the Charlotte County School District.
Reilly said official and law enforcement believed the altercation could spill over to the game despite it being in another county. The county has asked Port Charlotte staff members and coaches not to comment on the situation.
With heavy rain and lightning in the area, no spectators were allowed in the stadium in advance of the game’s scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff. There was a heavy police presence around the facility well ahead of the game, which was postponed shortly before the scheduled kickoff.
The Florida High School Athletic Association praised the action of the county in a statement released to The Sun on Saturday.
“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and fans will always be our number one priority on Friday nights,”FHSAA’s Kyle Niblett said. “We support the proactive stance the Charlotte County School District took in maintaining a safe environment for all parties.”
Officials will continue to investigate the situation over the weekend, Reilly said.
By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance in the first quarter of last week’s 63-33 win over North Miami.
After 12 minutes, the Tarpons found themselves tied 21-21 with the Pioneers. Charlotte responded in a big way Friday night, defeating district opponent Ida Baker 52-7, while not allowing its first points until the fourth quarter.
“We turned it on,” Waldrop said. “We came out ready to play. It’s really simple. The kids showed up tonight. You have to be like that in all your games, but especially your district games. In games like this, you’re playing for your playoff lives.”
Last week, the Tarpons forced four interceptions in the win. This week, they matched that total in fumble recoveries.
Travon McClary and Ny Harvey each recovered a fumble, and Jayden Grant scooped up two of them. Cazea Smith, Billy Ritter and Daniel Frederique forced three of those fumbles.
Smith also found himself with the ball after Harvey recovered a fumble late in the second quarter, and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to give Charlotte a 45-0 lead with 25.5 seconds left in the first half.
“We have a great defense,” Grant said. “We play great together, and we just love each other.”
The four fumble recoveries on Friday gives the Tarpons a total of nine turnovers forced to zero turnovers allowed over the first three games of the season.
SPECIAL TEAM IMPACT
By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
Special teams certainly made their imprint early on in DeSoto County’s 16-10 victory over Lemon Bay in the teams’ District 11-5A opener Friday night.
Lemon Bay kicker Summer Fisher scored her first career points on a 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter for the game’s first points. Then, 13 seconds later, Arnold Mele returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a score to put DeSoto County ahead 6-3.
On a night where the offenses struggled, the defenses also made their mark. Lemon Bay actually won the turnover battle 2-1 — thanks to two interceptions by Victor Mellor — but DeSoto County came up with the biggest turnover in the fourth quarter. Brayden
Curry was having a stellar second half, rushing for 101 of 115 yards in the final 24 minutes, but made a costly mistake with the Manta Rays driving at the Bulldogs’ 41-yard line.
Quarterback Hayden Wolff pitched it to Curry, who couldn’t quite handle it. The ball dropped to the grass and Tyreke Evans dove on the ball to recover the fumble for DeSoto County.
It was one of six combined fumbles in the game but the only one that was recovered by the defense. DeSoto County fumbled three times but Lemon Bay could never recover and take advantage.
Lemon Bay also never was able to take advantage of Mellor’s interceptions, with the offense going three-and-out after the first and Curry fumbling after the second. The Manta Rays’ offense only crossed midfield three times in the game.