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North football starts fall practice

August 15, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The new school year got started for most on Friday, but for the North Fort Myers High School football team, school was back in session two weeks early.

The team started its fall practice on July 29, giving the team just four weeks to get its offense and defense in shape before its Kickoff Classic on Aug. 24 against regional power Naples.

The team slowly got itself ramped up under new coach Dwayne Mack, going from helmets only, to shoulder pads, to full contact last week.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers High School football players do a pursuit drill during a recent football practice.


For much of the first two weeks, players started well before dawn to avoid the summer heat and so the team will get the same attention it would in the middle of the season.

"The kids are very excited abut practice. Coming in at 6 a.m. is a little different for them, but the kids have picked up on things," Mack said. "Naples is well-coached and is going to be a tough test and will get us ready for the rest of the season."

As the school year starts, the Red Knighted return to their normal schedule with practice after school, with the first day including a scrimmage.

Last season was one to remember for the Red Knights. Despite losing two games due to Hurricane Irma, the team went undefeated and won a playoff game before suffering a heartbreaking 7-6 defeat to arch-rival Fort Myers in the second round.

That loss is something they have to get out of their heads and so far, they've done it.

"I'm not really worried about the team from last year. That's why we've been putting in the extra work in the weight room," said senior defensive lineman Buchanon. "I think we're a playoff team this team. We've all stepped up."

"We made some mistakes in that game, but this is a new team and the past has to stay in the past," said senior receiver Clayton Savinsky. "We put in a lot of work just to get into this season. We've got a lot of underclassmen who are ready to show what we're doing."

Many of the big-play guys are gone, including Fa'najae Gotay, Toby Noland and Joe Wilkins. However, many of them remain, such as RB/LB Hunter Kobylanski, WR Clayton Savinsky and RB/WR Chris Lucas.

The question is who is going to be the one to throw the football. Mack said they have a quarterback by committee, which isn't ideal right now, but it will give him a chance to see who he can count on when the games start to matter. Lucas appears to be a candidate along with Jesse Charles.

"You want to get the ball in the hands of your best player and coaches have to find a way to do it and let them do what they do," Mack said.

What should make that easier is that much of the starting offensive line returns. Adolphus Taylor, Ethan Fortini and Duane Heller all return to fortify the line.

"It's great for the running game. The holes are always open and I believe we have the best line in Lee County," Kobylanski said. "We have the talent to run and pass, so we should be able to do both."

Defensively, while without the star power of last year, the team has been working hard. Mack said defense is about attitude and effort, and if the defense takes proper angles and pursues the ball, good things should happen.

Isiah Taylor, Cobee Lippincott and James Buchanan return to the defensive line. Kobylanski will captain the defense, with sophomore Vinnie Husband and Sammuel Presmy. Walter Cobos and Shomari Mason will lead the secondary.

Kobylanski said after a tough first day, his teammates began to understand they have listen and be disciplined.

"Last year we had a very tight family bond and this year it seems to be even better. We had that culture last year," Kobylanski said.



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