By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
(Thursday’s Sun will feature a preview from Charlotte’s perspective)
PORT CHARLOTTE — They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Though at Port Charlotte High School, the football team couldn’t care less about history.
“Last season was a blur,” Coach Jordan Ingman said. “This group is completely different. They’ve really matured, and we have a tremendous senior leadership, which makes all the difference in the world.”
The Pirates’ season ended last year in a 41-17 loss against county rival Charlotte in the Region 6A-3 semifinals.
It didn’t matter to Ingman that his team lost to its rival. It mattered that the Pirates lost, period.
“We gave the kids two weeks off and then got back to work,” said Ingman, whose team lost to the Tarpons 58-8 in their regular-season meeting. “You can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself. It’s not losing to them, it’s losing in the playoffs. No matter who it is, when you lose in the playoffs, it stinks.”
This year’s Pirates are significantly different than last season’s version, which dropped four games during the regular season. Port Charlotte enters Friday home date with undefeated county rival Charlotte at 7-0, just like the Tarpons.
Last year’s team relied heavily on the play of Brennan Norus, who rushed for a school-record 1,824 yards. This year, the Port Charlotte rushing attack is spread evenly among a host of Pirates.
Marc Jean-Louis leads the team with 649 yards on 41 carries. Ernest Harvey is right behind with 598 yards, and Shawn Campbell, in the up-the-middle role Norus had last year, has 463 yards.
The three backs have combined for 20 touchdowns on the ground, with Harvey adding 255 yards and two touchdowns on pass receptions.
A huge part of the Port Charlotte success has been the emergence of quarterback Paul Barnes, who has been superb job managing the offense. Barnes has consistently protected the ball, throwing five touchdowns with no interceptions, and seemingly always made the right read in Ingman’s triple-option attack.
Barnes, as with all the players involved, is eager for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. match.
“It’s a big thing for us,” Barnes said. “Most of us have been playing against these kids our whole lives. Everyone knows about it, and it’s the biggest rivalry in town.”
Another big difference between this year and last is the leadership on the team. There were few seniors on last year’s team, while this year, there is a core group of players with varsity experience.
“There’s been a lot of maturity that’s taken place,” Ingman said. “Last year, our team was so young that they were desperate for leaders. The kids have not only matured, but there’s been leadership that’s developed, and that comes with experience.”
This is the first time the schools will face off against each other this late in the season with perfect records. It’s the third time since 2013 that the winner will clinch a district championship.
That 2013 matchup, a 33-28 win for the Pirates, also was the last time they were victorious in the rivalry.
As if all that wasn’t enough to add to the historical importance of this game, a win for Port Charlotte would preserve its chance at completing its first undefeated season in school history.
“We were one point away (from an undefeated season) three years ago,” Ingman said. “I’m really happy for our community. There are a lot of counties out there who don’t get the chance to experience what we’re going to experience Friday night.”
POWER OF THREE
Maleek Williams, Charlotte, RB
Williams had just 40 yards rushing, but found the end zone three times for his fifth multi-touchdown game of the season. He now leads the area with 843 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Ernest Harvey, Port Charlotte, RB
Harvey continued to be a dual threat in the Pirates’ win last week. He had 90 yards on the ground, another 57 yards receiving, and had a touchdown of each variety.
C.K. Poulos, North Port, WR
Poulos keeps making his case for top wide receiver in the area. He caught eight passes for 150 yards to extend his area-best total, while also adding a touchdown in a loss for the Bobcats.
Name School Comp. Att. Per. Yards TD INT
Devon Allen North Port 65 161 40.3% 789 7 5
Dee Hicks Charlotte 37 72 51.3% 733 8 1
Hayden Wolff Lemon Bay 57 146 39.0% 630 2 6
Paul Barnes Port Charlotte 17 29 58.6% 389 5 0
Name School Att. Yards YPC TD
Maleek Williams Charlotte 102 843 8.2 17
Marc Jean-Louis Port Charlotte 41 649 15.8 7
Ernest Harvey Port Charlotte 65 598 9.7 5
Brayden Curry Lemon Bay 139 583 4.1 4
Shawn Campbell Port Charlotte 67 463 6.9 8
Dee Hicks Charlotte 26 339 13.0 5
Javon Howell North Port 84 318 3.7 2
Davon Keyes Port Charlotte 47 306 6.5 1
D’Vonte Price Charlotte 9 278 30.8 4
Octavious Cummings North Port 55 245 4.4 1
Name School Att. Yards YPR TD
C.K. Poulos North Port 23 368 16.0 4
Ernest Harvey Port Charlotte 9 255 28.3 2
Jacob White Charlotte 8 197 28.75 2
Skylar Razwilavich North Port 13 182 14.0 1
Victor Mellor Lemon Bay 18 179 9.9 1
Brenden Shuman Lemon Bay 12 171 14.2 1
Logan Lydic Lemon Bay 16 163 10.1 0
Andrew Grace Charlotte 10 157 15.7 2
Andrew Bosma North Port 8 125 13.8 1
D’Vonte Price Charlotte 4 115 28.7 2