Naples defense still money after Dollar’s departure

Naples co-defensive coordinator Cliff Greer, left, congratulates defensive lineman Phadley Petigny (91) after the Golden Eagles stopped Lely's offense during Friday night's Coconut Bowl at Naples High School. At front is Collin Miles, who had a big night in Naples' 45-0 shutout. GREGG HARDY/CSI


League winner.

In fantasy football terms, that’s what you’d call this year’s Naples High D/ST (Defense/Special Teams). Six D/ST scores in seven games this season? Really?!

And, if you were in an IDP (Individual Defensive Players) league and you had senior defensive lineman Collin Miles in your lineup last week, well … let’s just say that in this sports writer’s fantasy football league, he would have put up 25 points. (For reference, that’s 15 points better than the average point total of the NFL’s top point-producing defensive lineman, Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns.)

Miles intercepted not one, but two passes as the Naples defense posted its second shutout of the season in Friday night’s 45-0 whitewashing of Lely High. That’s 10 straight wins for Naples (7-0 overall, 3-0 in Class 6A-District 14) in the Coconut Bowl — Collier County’s longest-running football series, now at 46 years and counting.

PHOTO GALLERY: View images from the 46th Coconut Bowl

As that classic line in the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial read: “Time to make the doughnuts.” After every shutout, Naples players are rewarded with doughnuts during their Saturday morning team meetings.

“We always love the shutouts,” said Miles, who also had a sack and seven tackles Friday. “It’s always exciting for us to get doughnuts in the morning. That’s what we always look forward to … getting doughnuts in the morning.”

As for his two picks, Miles said, “It’s mostly luck but it’s really exciting for a D-lineman to get two interceptions in one game.”

Miles’ first interception came with Lely down 7-0 and driving to start the second quarter. A blitzing Slade Dollar got his hands up and tipped quarterback JJ Dervil’s pass, which then found Miles.

Lorenzo Brown (12) and Jordan Magher (30) celebrate a Naples safety on Friday night. GREGG HARDY/CSI

The points that the Naples ‘D’ racked up came late in the fourth quarter. It was a safety caused by Cadonald Gelin’s near sack of quarterback Stanley Hyppolite. (The Trojans’ normal starting quarterback, Hyppolite had been held out due to injury but was forced to enter the game after Dervil was injured in the third quarter.)

It’s a new day, and yet more of the same for the Golden Eagles defense, which is now run by co-defensive coordinators Cliff Greer and Mike Sawchuk. They took over last winter when Sam Dollar left after his 21st season as head coach Bill Kramer’s defensive coordinator. Dollar is now the defensive coordinator for Mustang High School — which is 4-2 this season — in his home state of Oklahoma.

You could say Greer and Sawchuk know how to stretch a “Dollar Defense.”

“If anything, we’re setting a new standard playing as fast as we’ve ever played,” said Kramer, whose team travels to Golden Gate High School this Friday for a district date with the 4-4 Titans.

Kramer added: “It was a collaborative effort when Coach Dollar was here. The truth is, there’s a whole bunch of guys working in that (coaches) room. … Those guys, they’ve done the work for years, so they’re just continuing doing what they’ve done, and the proof’s on the field.”

Said Miles: “We enter every game prepared and ready to give it our all, and nothing’s really changed. We’ve always had heart. We’re always gonna have heart, no matter who’s coaching us.”

Greer said he’s enjoying the partnership with Sawchuk, a Naples High alum who left a head coaching job in Michigan to rejoin the Golden Eagles last season.

“We really work great as a team because now we bounce ideas off of each other, and then everything comes together, and our game plans are always great every week,” Greer said. 

“What I love is that we play as a group. We play as a team. It’s Naples High School defense right now.”

Here’s a look at the points that Naples has racked up with its defense/special teams:

  • Aug. 23: Devin Moore pick-6 in 29-28 season-opening win at Riverview.
  • Sept. 6: Jordan Magher returned a blocked field goal 95 yards for a touchdown in 38-26 win over Monsignor Pace.
  • Sept. 13: Anthony Gomez safety in 37-0 home win over Palmetto Ridge.
  • Sept. 20: Slade Dollar 35-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in 23-7 home win over Lehigh.
  • Sept. 27: Phadley Petigny 13-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, and Ar’quel Smith 72-yard blocked field goal return for touchdown in 49-14 win at Barron Collier.
  • Oct. 11: Cadonald Gelin induces safety in 45-0 home win over Lely.



It was that kind of a night Friday for Benjamin Dumond and the Lely Trojans. GREGG HARDY/CSI

The Lely defense entered Friday’s game arguably as Collier County’s second best unit behind Naples, surrendering a shade over 10 points per game.

Putting points on the board, however, has been a struggle for the Trojans this season. Their offense is averaging just under 9.5 points per contest.

“We put our defense in some bad spots,” said JJ Everage, who’s now 4-3 in his first season as Lely coach. “We started out with an onside kick — didn’t get it — and they capitalized on that. Then we throw a pick, and they capitalize on it.

“I’m proud of my kids. They kept cool heads. The “old” Lely would’ve been, you know, there would’ve been penalty flags all over the field. Naples had a great defensive game plan. They brought pressure and gave us some exotic looks up front that confused us.”

After the game, Everage said he wanted his players to take the night to absorb the loss, then forget about it. A couple of district wins at Immokalee this Friday and at home against Barron Collier on Oct. 25 could put Lely smack in the middle of the playoff hunt.

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