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North JV a good ‘feeder system’ for program

September 11, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers High School football team has found tremendous success the last few seasons, with last year's team finishing one step away from making states.

Very often, the success of a varsity team only goes as far as the success of the junior varsity team, which provides varsity with the players for tomorrow.

And North's JV program has been quite good, when it's had enough players, as it showed last week.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers JV football player Dominic Rendon races for the end zone during a football game Thursday against Mariner at Moody Field. North held on for a 16-8 win.

CHUCK BALLARO

Thursday, the Red Knights' JV squad opened its season by hosting - and beating - Mariner.

The game started late and one of the light towers at Moody Field went out, pushing the teams to be finished by dark.

North's first drive stalled, but a bad snap to the punter went out of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 North lead.

Another special teams miscue, a fumble recovered by Andy Villafana, gave North the ball deep in Triton territory. Dominic Rendon cashed it in with a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0 at halftime.

Mariner was able to move the ball in the second half deep into North territory before losing it on downs and a fumble.

Meanwhile, Brennan Boucher scored late in the third quarter for the Red Knights to make it 16-0.

A late touchdown in the final minute by Mariner made the game interesting following a two-point play that made it 16-8, North fell on the onside kick and ran out the clock.

Kyle Schmidt, JV head coach, said he would chalk it up to this being the opener as Mariner was playing its second game.

"They had more experience than we did, so we'll work on a lot of things during practice next week," Schmidt said. "We played well. That was a tough touchdown to give up, but we have some work to do."

JV teams are, by nature, very young. They provide an important need for programs, which is to be a feeder system for the varsity. The players get to learn what it's like to play in a program with the tradition North has, in front of a crowd.

North, which was undefeated two seasons ago on JV and varsity, has combined its freshmen and JV programs into one the past two years, Schmidt said, because the numbers for both were way down and they didn't have the number of kids needed to field two teams.

"The majority of the team are freshmen. We also have several varsity players low on the depth chart that rather than sit on the bench Friday night they can get experience on Thursday in game situations," Schmidt said. "Those are the guys we look to be leaders of the team."

The new crop of freshmen has experience at the Pop Warner level, which gives them a foundation. They are learning to run their offense and their terminology and learn what the team expects of them.

They are learning that high school football is a much faster game, Schmidt said.

"It's a change of pace. We have to get these kids accustomed to the change of speed and playing on both sides of the ball," Schmidt said. "They will learn to better hydrate."

Matthew Ebbert is playing his second season as JV quarterback. Rendon, Boucher, Cason Humble and Rontrez Johnson are featured in a stacked backfield, with many of them also playing on defense.

 
 

 

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