Remember that first week of the Pop Warner football season that was pushed to the end of the season due to the terrible weather?
That was supposed to be the week the North Fort Myers Red Knights football program would have their bye, a bye that will now come this weekend, the final one of the regular season.
This has caused the Peace River Conference to condense its playoff schedule to Wednesday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 29.
North Fort Myers Pop Warner Pee-Wee football player Cason Humble gets some positive yardage Saturday during their game against Sarasota at the North Fort Myers Community Park. North won handily, clinching a playoff spot.
That should prove to be a huge advantage for the Pee-Wee and Junior Varsity teams, both of whom qualified for the conference playoffs, with the Junior Varsity team expected to play Sarasota on a neutral site, while the Pee-Wees will likely play at Riverdale.
With no unlimited team, it has proven to be a very successful season once again for the competitive teams.
"We have an established program. I've been here for 18 years and have a coaching staff that's been here most of the way," JV coach Christopher Reeves said. "We have a disciplined and physical program, returning players from Pee-Wee and spring football. Those things have made us successful."
Willie Brown is the focal point of the JV offense as quarterback and running back, as well as Moses Cooper, both of whom will likely take their talents to the high school level next year. They have done well despite an inexperienced offensive line that has jelled quickly.
The JV team, many of whom came from a Pee-Wee team that went 3-5 last year, had its only defeat come against Fort Myers 19-12. Reeves said he is looking forward to a rematch and believes he has the kids on defense to get their revenge.
"We don't have one superstar who carries the team. The defense is very disciplined and hard-hitting and we like to challenge the kids to score on defense," Reeves said. "We've gotten a lot of interceptions this year and the kids work great as a unit."
The Pee-Wees (6-2) sewed up at least a No. 3 seed by beating Sarasota Saturday 30-14 on the strength of superstar Anthony Benjamin's four touchdowns, which has more than made up for a very young team coach Todd Sheridan has.
"This is a group of kids who work hard and come after it every week. We got spanked by Naples last week, but we showed courage and came out and played hard," Sheridan said.
But for Benjamin to be an elite runner, he needs help, and has gotten it. Carson Meyers, Carson Kersey, Brodie Dorsey and Tony Frazzini have had his back all season, and certainly in a game that Sheridan called the best team effort of the season.
In the future, many of Sheridan's players will be moving up the Reeves' program, with about 11 or so sticking around another year. Sheridan hopes the Junior Pee-Wees are able to step in and fill the holes.
As for the bye week, the teams will have an extra three days of practice where they can prepare for the teams they expect to play and be well-rested, which will prove to be an edge.
"We were thinking we would have loved the bye week in the beginning, but we're fortunate to have it now that we're in the playoffs," Sheridan said.