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North High football starts spring practice

May 3, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It's been said that the two favorite high school sports in Florida are football and spring football. Well, football fans, for the next three weeks your fix is going to be satisfied.

The North Fort Myers High School football team started spring practice last week in preparation for the 2017 season, which will end with its traditional spring game at home against Lely on May 19.

Until then, it's long days out on the field and in the weight room, with the upperclassmen going over plays for this year and the incoming freshmen learning the offense and defense and what it takes to succeed at this level.

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The North Fort Myers High School football team started spring practice last week in preparation for the 2017 season.

The first three days were without pads, as per state rules. That left the coaches not able to do much more than install the offense and conditioning. The weather was nice and head coach Earnest Graham was pleased with what he saw from his Red Knights.

"We're looking really good. The important thing is that guys are flying around and we have good spirits on the team," Graham said. "This is a team that really wants to work and I like what they're bringing to the field."

With Zaquandre White gone, the Red Knights will be hard-pressed to repeat or improve upon a 6-3 record (with two of those losses by four points or less, including to regional champ Charlotte).

They did keep a number of their great players, including quarterback Ben Pogue, Hunter Kobylansky and Fa'Najae Gotay, one of the best linebackers in the region. With defense being easier to teach than offense, that has meant defense has dominated the early contact-free scrimmages.

"Offense always takes a while, being precise and the tempo they have work on. Defense is about chasing the football and energy, but offense takes a lot, no matter how good you are," Graham said.

As for the incoming sophomores, it's about patience, Graham said. Most of them stood on the sidelines and watched, with some's attention drifting to other things, which require an assistant coach to knock them back into focus.

"It's tough. It's the spring so they get a chance to get in, get some reps and learn the offense. Those guys we consider the core part of the roster, who can come in and get minutes and run what we ask them, as those who come in for the starters," Graham said.

By the end of the week, the air became a blast furnace as the kids put the pads on and started hitting. By the end of this week Graham was ready to put his players through the traditional Red-White game.

Kobylansky, a junior running back and linebacker, said he liked what he saw, especially on defense.

"We're starting to mesh like how we wanted it to last year and it's doing it faster this year. We looked pretty good. We're flying to the ball like the coach wants us and doing the pursuit drills and getting to the quarterback," Kobylansky said.

He added that many of them played together in Pop Warner for years and that has helped them blend in as a cohesive group.

"We can trust each other and not worry about what other people are doing. We do our own job," Kobylansky said. "It's great to play football again."



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