Cassin’s Call: Indians look to rev up offense; Sharks hope to rein in turnovers

Will Raheem Toombs break out against the Gulf Coast front seven on Friday night? 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 3 matchup between the visiting Immokalee Indians (0-2, 0-0 Class 6A-District 14) and the Gulf Coast Sharks (1-1, 0-0 Class 7A-District 11):

Jon Cassin

LAST MEETING

Aug. 17, 2018 — Immokalee def. Gulf Coast, 40-0, at Gulf Coast High School (Kickoff Classic). 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Immokalee — Charles Toombs (Sr., ATH), Raheem Toombs (Jr., RB), Franck Pierre (Jr., WR/DB); Gulf Coast — Konner Barrett (Fr., QB), Kaden Kitchener (Sr., LB), Justin Mattia (Sr., QB), Alex Pappas (Sr., OL). 

LAST WEEK

Immokalee fell to Jesuit, 39-6, to bring its record to 0-2 for the second consecutive season. The Indians, without question, have the toughest schedule of any team in Collier County, but coach Rodelin Anthony and his team will not use this, or anything else, as an excuse. That’s just not their style. Through two games, the Indians’ offense has only produced two scores as its shuffled through multiple players at important positions, including quarterback. The Indians’ defense has seemed to be on the field for extended periods of time in both contests. A long touchdown run and a 40-yard field goal by Jesuit put the Indians in a first-quarter double-digit hole.   

Gulf Coast made the trip across town to play Lely and fell to the Trojans 20-11. The game featured two stout defenses; and the question was: Which one was going to give up the big plays? Lely’s playmakers, Jonis Dieudonne and Chevy Octa, both found the end zone against a Sharks defense that allowed zero points in Week 1. Gulf Coast also found itself on the wrong end of the turnover battle. Three fourth-quarter turnovers, including two interceptions in the final five minutes, ended up being too big of an obstacle for the Sharks to overcome.

PREVIEW

As it did last week, the Gulf Coast defense finds itself playing against an offense that has speed and athleticism and is just waiting for its skill players to get out in the open. Offensively for the Sharks, coach Tom Scalise is hoping to get starting quarterback Justin Mattia back from the injury he sustained three weeks ago in the Kickoff Classic at Naples High. (Actually, the Sharks have had several players out due to injury.) If he returns, Mattia’s experience will be a key component to the flow of the Sharks’ offense. Freshman backup Konner Barrett has stepped in and shown flashes of solid quarterback play, but Scalise will need his team to cut down on the turnovers this week. The Sharks must be able to play a balanced game offensively and keep their defense on the positive side of midfield. From there, they can allow their defensive front seven to take over.  

The Indians will be looking to force Gulf Coast’s offense into the same turnover situation they have been in the first two weeks of the season. This will keep their defense off the field and their offensive playmakers on the field. Be ready to see Immokalee’s Charles Toombs impact the game from many positions on the field, and watch for the Indians to try and feature RB Raheem Toombs, who is one of the best ball carriers in the area. Establishing the run game with Raheem Toombs and finding the best matchups on the outside could blow this one wide open for Immokalee. A big part of the Indians’ offensive struggles thus far can be attributed to two things: the caliber of their first two opponents — they lost 68-6 in Week 1 to Clearwater Academy International; and uncertainty at the quarterback position. (Back in July, Immokalee lost star QB RJ Rosales to Evangelical Christian.) With a ton of talent, look for the Indians to get better soon.

COACH’S QUOTE

Scalise wants his team to focus on getting better each week and not dwelling on the week prior, regardless of the outcome. When asked what the goal was for this week, he said, “Finding our identity and dictate the pace of the game. Understanding football is a game of obstacles and dealing with them as they come.” The one thing he wants that is out of his control is for his team to get healthy.

HOW IT TURNS OUT

It’s difficult to say just where the Immokalee offense is at this point in the season. No Collier County team has faced tougher opponents than the Indians have over the first two weeks. And Gulf Coast remains hard to figure out as it’s still hindered by a ton of injuries and what seems like a full season’s worth of turnovers thus far. The Sharks do field a solid defense that is led by their front seven. The possibility of getting Mattia back under center has me leaning toward Gulf Coast in this one.

OTHER PREDICTIONS

(Home teams in bold)

Naples over Pace; First Baptist over Gateway Charter; Golden Gate over Bonita Springs; Barron Collier over Key West; Bishop Verot over Palmetto Ridge; Lely over Ida Baker; IMG (White) over Neumann; Community School over SWFL Christian.