CSN, First Baptist, LaBelle, Oasis win season openers; Verot falls to Jesuit

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Bishop Verot senior receiver Malik Curtis had nine touches for 226 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 loss to Tampa Jesuit.

Fort Myers News-Press

Tampa Jesuit 28, Bishop Verot 21

Malik Curtis picked up where he left off last season.

After the University of Miami commit’s 2019 season ended with a 5-catch, 205-yard, 3-touchdown performance in a regional final, Curtis went off in Bishop Verot’s season opener with 10 touches for 236 yards and three scores as the Vikings’ comeback bid fell short in a 28-21 loss to Tampa Jesuit on Friday at Viking Stadium.

Malik Curtis makes a catch against a Tampa Jesuit defender during their matchup Friday evening. Bishop Verot hosted Tampa Jesuit for their first game of the season in Fort Myers, September 4, 2020. The Vikings were defeated 21-28. (Photo: Ricardo Rolon /The News-Press USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA)

“He is who we thought he was,” Bishop Verot coach John Mohring said of Curtis.

Having scheduled Jesuit (1-0), a Class 5A state semifinalist last season, the Vikings (0-1) needed a little more than Curtis, though. Jesuit, which was outgained by Verot 405-300, scored on its first three possessions, two of which were ignited by interceptions thrown by the Vikings, to go up 22-0 early in the second quarter.

Verot senior quarterback Jacob Azizi (14-for-25, 275 yards, 2 TDs) rebounded with Curtis’ help, throwing a 77-yard touchdown pass on a flare to Curtis in the flat. Curtis scored on a 50-yard reverse to cut the lead to 22-13.

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Oasis 35, Marco Island Academy 14

First Quarter

Second Quarter

O: Kai Shelton 15 pass from Kellner (kick good) 3:43

Third Quarter

O: Hunter Eichelberger 6 pass from Kellner (kick good) 7:49

Fourth Quarter

O: Shelton 17 interception return (kick good) 6:50

MIA: Kyler Howard 18 run (conversion run failed) 4:49

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FBA sophomore quarterback Rich Mellien threw three TD passes and ran for another in a 35-0 season-opening victory on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.

Naples Daily News

First Baptist Academy 35, Gateway Charter 0

Friday night looked like a typical football Friday at First Baptist Academy, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The stands were packed, with some overflow on the track to give some social distancing. 

Then the Lions did their version of distancing against the Griffins, rolling to an easy victory with 21 first-quarter points. 

“A lot of things need to be improved, we’ve got to get better at,” FBA coach Billy Sparacio said. “All stuff that we can work on. I’m proud of the kids, happy for them, happy to get back out here. We had a great crowd, great fans, great night of high school football.”

Sophomore quarterback Rich Mellien and the running game struggled at times behind a young offensive line, but he connected with Olsen Henry on a 22-yard score and Colby Gonzalez on 24- and 30-yard TD catches, the latter on the final play of the first half for a 28-0 lead.

“There was a lot going through my mind,” Gonzalez said. “I thought I did it wrong, but hey, just had a connection with Rich.”

Safety Trent Wilson had the other first-quarter score, returning a Griffins fumble 84 yards for a touchdown after Gateway Charter threatened.

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Mellien had the game’s only second-half touchdown, breaking free at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and 1 play, and then sprinting for a 57-yard score midway through the third to start a running clock. Mellien threw for 198 yards but also had a pair of interceptions. Henry caught three passes for 101 yards.

The Griffins had some big plays by Walter Tucker and Isaac Depena, but were turned away from the end zone a handful of times. Depena rushed for 88 yards, and Tucker added 53.

“It wasn’t the welcome back I wanted obviously, but glad we’re back playing ball,” Gateway Charter coach Ben Daley said. “It’s a wake-up game for us for sure. This is good for our boys.”

Garrett Nottle recovered a Gateway fumble at the FBA 3, and Michael Votta added an interception to go with Wilson’s big fumble return on defense. 

First Baptist plays at Roswell (Ga.) Fellowship Christian next Friday at 7 p.m. Gateway will face Community School of Naples, also at 7.

 Greg Hardwig

LaBelle 21, Evangelical Christian 12 

The Cowboys wore the Sentinels down in the second half, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and avenging a 54-14 loss to the Sentinels last year.  

“Our guys seemed to be in really good shape tonight and that was something we were worried about coming in,” LaBelle coach Matt Davidson said. “Having to play after only two weeks, installing a new offense made for some rough practices with turnovers at times so I was happy with how things went, only one turnover. Last year in this game, we put the ball on the ground 12 times and had nine turnovers. If we don’t do that, we give ourselves a shot, so I’m happy with it.” 

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Lawson Davidson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. Elvis Casanova’s brilliant diving 12-yard touchdown grab gave the Cowboys a 14-12 lead with 4:26 left in the second quarter, an advantage they’d never relinquish. 

Davidson deftly avoided an almost sure sack, twisting out of a defender’s reach and whipping a sidearm pass to Colton Bass. The speedy wideout took care of the rest, streaking up the left sideline for a 75-yard score late in the third for a two-score advantage. 

The Sentinels couldn’t gain much traction after a strong start, with LaBelle’s physical tandem of Adam Reinbott and Max Lofton blowing the Sentinels off the ball late in the contest. LaBelle’s defense also swarmed to the football as the senior trio of Zack Mann, Kade Logsdon and Luis Vizcarra living in the ECS backfield. 

ECS showed a glimpse of its future in the first half, as eighth grader Winston Watkins flashed his speed on a 55-yard touchdown toss from freshman quarterback Myles Graham – son of ECS coach and former Tampa Bay Bucs running back Earnest Graham. Myles Graham also added a 12-yard touchdown run to give the Sentinels a short-lived 12-7 second-quarter lead.  

“Our kids fought really, really hard,” Earnest Graham said. “We were in the game until the very end. We have a really young football team that’s going to make mistakes and be in situations they’ve not been in before. You have to learn how to respond to those situations before you can have success.” 

LaBelle 21, ECS 12

ECS    6 | 6 | 0 | 0    —  12 

L          7 | 7 | 7 | 0    —  21 

First quarter 

ECS – Winston Watkins 55 pass from Myles Graham (run failed), 9:21 

L – Lawson Davidson 1 run (Evan Williams kick), 2:57 

Second quarter 

L – Elvis Casanova 10 pass from Davidson (Williams kick), 4:26 

Third quarter 

L – Colton Bass 75 pass from Davidson (Williams kick), 3:30 

Follow News-Press and Naples Daily News Sports Writers Adam Regan, Adam Fisher, Alex Martin, Andrew Sodergren, and Greg Hardwig on Twitter: @NP_AdamRegan, @NDN_Adam, @NP_AlexMartin, @AHSodergren, and @NDN_GHardwig. For the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.


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