What appears to be an oddly placed non-district game in the middle of two taxing district schedules could mean a lot to Island Coast and Dunbar in the long run.
In front of a homecoming crowd Friday, Dunbar (3-1) is looking to correct some crucial mistakes that cost it an upset of South Fort Myers and a move into the top tier of Southwest Florida teams. Meanwhile, Island Coast (2-4) is waiting for the experience gained from taking its lumps during a lethal early-season schedule to pay off.
“Yes, both teams are focused on their district schedules,” Dunbar coach Phil Vogt said. “But there is a lot going on Friday. We’ll have a lot of alumni here wanting to see us win and our kids are coming off a two-week layoff where they were left thinking about a loss.
“We want to hit the ground running.”
It wasn’t just any loss. The Tigers had South on its heels after Treyvon Kennedy’s 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, but turnovers and penalties the rest of then way relegated them to a 23-20 loss.
The offense never established a rhythm with sophomore running back Abraham Alce running downhill, a situation that has translated into wins this season. The Tigers were flagged for 165 yards worth of penalties and two second-half turnovers were converted into two South scores.
“We needed to improve up front and in ball security,” said Vogt, whose team managed just 42 yards of total offense in the loss. “Those were the two main points. Plus, we need to cut back on penalties like everybody else. South was too good of a football team to give them 100 yards.”
“A 5-yard penalty at the wrong time can cost you the ball game.”
One of the positives Vogt saw during the bye week was the progression of sophomore quarterback Jarius Johnson.
He’s made strides during the first four games, culminating with a clutch touchdown pass to Shanon Reid on a fade route to end the first half against South. The throw showed he is capable of taking the top off a defense with a group of speedy receivers at his disposal.
“Remember this is a sophomore who is new to our system. He’s on a learning curve,” Vogt said. “We just need to accelerate and the bye week was very beneficial to him.”
Three of Island Coast’s six opponents — South, Naples and Charlotte — are ranked or have been ranked in their respective classifications and have a combined record of 14-2. The Gators were outscored 140-10 in those games.
“That shows them the level they need to get to,” Schwochow said. “Those young kids know they need to work to get to that level and they have a lot of time to get there.”
Schwochow suspended four offensive linemen for last week’s 45-0 loss to Charlotte, forcing him to go with a young, inexperienced group. He wouldn’t confirm how many of the linemen would return this week, but said the team must improve its run blocking.
Senior running back Antonio Greaves has rushed for 395 yards. If there is more consistency in the run game, it will give quarterback Kory Curtis more to work with in the passing game.
“We don’t have any balance. All everybody does is sit back and wait for us to throw,” Schwochow said. “That’s something we’ll improve on. This game will be a good test.”