Cassin’s Call: Expecting defensive battle, Sharks offense gets nod in Gulf Coast-Lely matchup

Look for senior Jonis Dieudonne to be used in a variety of ways by the Lely offense. CSI FILE PHOTO

Editor’s note: “Cassin’s Call” — a weekly installment that previews a specific all-Collier County high school football matchup — is posted every Thursday on CollierSportsInsider.com.

Jon Cassin, who served as quarterbacks coach at Golden Gate High School from 2013-19, breaks down Friday night’s Week 2 matchup between the visiting Gulf Coast Sharks (1-0, 0-0 Class 7A-District 11) and the Lely Trojans (1-0, 0-0 Class 6A-District 14):

Jon Cassin

LAST MEETING

Aug. 25, 2018 — Gulf Coast def. Lely, 33-13, at Gulf Coast High School.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Gulf Coast — Kaden Kitchener (Sr., LB), Justin Mattia (Sr., QB), Alex Pappas (Sr., OL), Konner Barrett (Fr., QB), Tyler Hall (Sr., CB); Lely — Jonis Dieudonne (Sr., RB/QB), Jayden Noel (Sr., LB), DJ Palmy (Jr., DL), Stanley Hyppolite (Jr., QB), Chevy Octa (Sr., WR).

LAST WEEK

Facing many obstacles as it opened its 2019 regular season, Gulf Coast got the job done in a 27-0 home win against Golden Gate. Freshman QB Konner Barrett stepped in for an injured Justin Mattia and, despite throwing four interceptions, led the Sharks to victory. Barrett’s ability to quickly shrug off the turnovers and stay focused mentally was a big key, as was the play of the Gulf Coast defense. The Sharks’ front seven, led by LB Kaden Kitchener, was in the Golden Gate backfield all game long and forced the Titans into a handful of turnovers themselves.

The Trojans began Year 1 under new head coach JJ Everage with a 15-8 win at Island Coast. Lely’s defense, which held the Gators scoreless until the game’s closing moments, has yielded 22 points in two appearances this season (including a 14-2 preseason loss at Bishop Verot). Anytime your defense plays like that, you’re in position to win. DJ Palmy (8 tackles, 2 sacks) starred against Island Coast; look for him to continue that high level of play. The Lely offense has struggled to get going, and it will be tough to do so this week against a stingy Sharks defense. 

PREVIEW

Gulf Coast’s front seven is good and will be looking to build off last week’s shutout. The Sharks would also love to return some guys from injury this week. Anytime you are down five starters, you are at a disadvantage. Gulf Coast’s ability to have guys step up and fill in for their injured teammates against Golden Gate was remarkable. Regardless of who is under center for the Sharks this week, Coach Tom Scalise will want to see a reduction in turnovers from his offense. The Sharks were able to break off a big touchdown run last week to essentially ice the game; look for them to try to establish a running game early on in this one. To do so, they’ll need more consistent play from their offensive line, which is facing a stout Lely defense that’s led by Palmy and LB Jayden Noel. And, for the second week in a row, the Gulf Coast quarterback(s) will face a talented secondary with big-play ability.

For Lely, the plan is simple (easier said of course): Continue to do what it does on defense; and, offensively, find a way to get their explosive athletes the ball in space. The Trojans feature two of the more talented athletes in Collier County: Jonis Dieudonne and Chevy Octa. Both will demand a lot of attention from the Gulf Coast defense. Dieudonne, who played quarterback last year, has been put in other positions to impact the game in as many ways as possible. Octa is already well-known for his ability to take it the distance at any time. If the Lely offense finds its footing and these guys get on the loose, look out!

The Trojans have waited more than a year to have another crack at the Sharks after last season’s opening week loss. It will be interesting to see what each team has in store for the other.

COACH’S QUOTE

Everage harped on the Trojans’ offensive lapses so far this season. He knows his guys have the talent. “We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot offensively,” he said. “Once we put it all together on that side of the ball, we are good enough to play with anybody. I truly believe that.”

HOW IT TURNS OUT

The theme on Friday night will most likely be defense, defense, defense. Both defenses are outstanding. Gulf Coast’s front seven will give any offensive line fits. Lely’s secondary is loaded with talent and has the potential to slow down the Sharks’ passing game. The biggest difference in the first week of the season was the Sharks’ ability to score points. As talented as Lely is at the skill positions on offense, they have not seemed to click just yet. I expect that to be the determining factor in the game. If Gulf Coast gets any of its injured players back, it will only add to a very solid team. I have the Sharks winning this one, 20-14.