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Red Knights’ playoff run ends in Naples

November 29, 2018
By PETE SISK (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Staver Field at Naples High School is where playoff dreams go to die.

The Naples Golden Eagles rarely lose at home, and that's even more true when it comes to the postseason.

North Fort Myers slugged it out with the perennial powerhouse from Naples on Friday, but came out on the losing end of a 23-0 decision in the Region 6A-3 final.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers senior Shomari Mason (11) finds some running room during the Red Knights' regional final against Naples Friday night.

MICHAEL PISTELLA

Elan Sommala scored two first-half touchdowns to lead Naples. CJ Dietzel added a fourth-quarter touchdown and Nick Herber kicked a 42-yard field goal to account for the rest of the Golden Eagles' scoring.

The Golden Eagles (12-1) will go on to play host to Miami Northwestern (8-5) next Friday in the state Class 6A semifinals. Northwestern advances after upsetting Miami Central, the second-ranked team in Class 6A, by a 19-15 margin.

Friday's loss ended a North Fort Myers year that began with a kickoff classic defeat by Naples, followed by two regular-season losses, then a run of nine wins in 10 games. Included in that run was a playoff victory at Charlotte, avenging North's last regular-season defeat.

"All rides have to come to an end," Red Knights' head coach Dwayne Mack said. "I'm proud of these guys. They did a good job."

Mack completed his first season as head coach after taking the reins from Earnest Graham.

"They're just physical," Mack said of the Golden Eagles. "Hat's off to them. They did a good job."

Friday night's game started out so well for the Red Knights (9-4), with Hunter Kobylanski ripping off a 21-yard gain and Jesse Charles running 24 yards in a drive which reached the Naples 1. At the 1, however, the Red Knights were not only stopped on downs, but lost Kobylanski to a right knee injury.

The loss of Kobylanski, along with James Buchanon not being able to play Friday due to injury, left North short-handed on both sides of the ball.

"We were without James Buchanon and Hunter, two of our leading guys on defense," Mack said. "Hunter is a great asset to us, and losing him hurt us a lot."

Both of Naples' first-half scores came as a result of field position. A short punt set up Sommala's 15-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Later in the same period, a Charles pass deflected off Shomari Mason and into the hands of Brady Webre for an interception in North territory. Sommala would rush 21 yards for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 for a 13-0 Naples lead at halftime.

"If you look at it, they had two scores from a short field," Mack said.

North's defense had its moments, including stopping Naples on downs at the Red Knights' 41 in the third quarter, and Mason recovering a Sommala fumble when it appeared Naples might be adding another touchdown to its margin.

Offensively, the Red Knights would not mount another serious challenge until the game's final minute, when Naples stopped North on downs inside the 10.

Naples relied on the 1-2 running punch of Chaz Mellusi, who has committed to play at Clemson, and Sommala. Mellusi ran 20 times for 167 yards, while Sommala carried 21 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The Golden Eagles didn't complete a single pass all night.

Chris Lucas rushed for 53 yards on six carries and Mason 17 times for 51 yards for North Fort Myers.

Mack expressed his appreciation of Naples coach Bill Kramer.

The Golden Eagles have won two state titles since coach Kramer took the helm in 1998.

Kramer's Naples teams are 206-48 overall.

"I talk to that guy almost every other week," Mack said of the man who has built Southwest Florida's dominant football program. "To me, he's a mentor. He's taught me different things, how to deal with success, turn a program around."

Naples last lost a home playoff game in 2014, a 30-28 decision against Palm Bay Heritage. The only other Naples home postseason defeat this decade came in 2012 at the hands of South Fort Myers.

"You look at those guys," Mack said. "They're not major D-1 players - I mean, you've got the running back (Mellusi) - but the rest of those guys, they just work hard and they're weight-room strong."

NORTH FORT MYERS 0 0 0 0 - 0

NAPLES HIGH 0 13 0 10 - 23

Second quarter

Naples - Elan Sommala 15-yard run (Nick Herber kick) 10:21.

Naples - Sommala 21-yard run (kick blocked) 6:20.

Fourth quarter

Naples - Herber FG 42-yards 10:59.

Naples - CJ Dietzel 53-yard run (Herber kick) 8:11.

 
 

 

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