Its been two years since the Fort Myers Green Wave have found themselves in a playoff game, a virtual eternity for the powerhouse whose winning ways and deep traditions has meant as much to the community as to the school.
The Wave went 3-7 in 2009 and 5-5 in 2010. Last season was a slight improvement over 2009, but nowhere near where the Wave want to be or get back to.
Coach Sam Sirianni Jr. said the notion of the playoffs is both a blessing and a curse for his team.
"These kids haven't tasted the playoffs, which can work as both a negative and a positive," Sirianni said. "It's a positive because kids are hungry, but it's a negative because they don't understand how special playoff football is or what it takes to get there."
The Green Wave play in one of the toughest districts - 6A 11 - with North Fort Myers, South Fort Myers and Island Coast all back-to-back in the middle of their 2011 schedule.
Sirianni knows his team will be tested, especially with non-district games against Charlotte, Cypress Lake and Lehigh, but has no illusions about the challenges ahead.
"We have one of the hardest schedules around. There are not going to be any freebies," Sirianni said. "You have to get ready for tough games in a tough district, but when you come off the kind of season we had last year kids need that confidence."
The Green Wave expects seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, along with 20 lettermen.
Senior running back Dalvin Battle, coming off a 1,000-yard season, is expected to have another productive season.
The Green Wave also return senior linebacker Dylan DiFalco, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. DiFalco led the area in tackles two years ago.
"Our strengths will be our runningbacks and our linebackers," Sirianni said. "We've got some good football players in those areas."
Interior linemen on both sides of the ball will be made up of juniors and will play a big role this year. Sirianni called the lines "much improved" from last year.
A rash of injuries two years ago brought along some sophomores from the JV squad to help fill those holes. Now that those players are juniors and seniors, Sirianni thinks the experience of being called up ahead of time will start to pay off.
The road to redemption, and a strong surge back to the playoffs, will take a fine balance of talent, coaching and history.
That road begins on Sept. 2 when the Green Wave go on the road to face Lehigh.
Fort Myers Green Wave
Sept. 2 - at Lehigh
Sept. 9 - vs. Golden Gate
Sept. 16 - at Cypress Lake
Sept. 23 - at Riverdale-x
Sept. 30 - vs. Charlotte
Oct. 6 - at Island Coast-x
Oct. 14 - vs. South Fort Myers-x
Oct. 21 - at North Fort Myers-x
Oct. 28 - vs. Ida Baker-x
Nov. 4 - vs. Bishop Verot-x
Head Coach: Sam Sirianni, Jr., 9th year (62-36).
Assistants: Frank Sirianni (def. coordinator), Don Weekley (off. line), Greg Martin (LB), Fred Theier (DB/RB), Nick Caserio (DB), John Schwochow (DE/RB), Richie Rode (QB), Chad Terrell (LB), Erich Ladwig (WR).
Team Colors: Kelly Green & White
Stadium: Edison Stadium, 2635 Cortez Blvd., Fort Myers
Playoff History: 1975 - Haines City 8, Fort Myers 7 (OT); 1977 - St. Petersburg Catholic 26, Fort Myers 12; 1987 - Bradenton Southeast 24, Fort Myers 21; 1988 - Bradenton Southeast 35, Fort Myers 7; 1991 - Fort Myers 24, Bradenton Southeast 15; Fort Myers 48, Largo 7 (Regionals); St. Thomas Aquinas 17, Fort Myers 0 (Sectionals); 1992 - Fort Myers 30, Bradenton Southeast 7; Fort Myers 35, Kathleen 7 (Regionals); St. Thomas Aquinas 28, Fort Myers 0; 1995 - Sarasota 31, Fort Myers 24 (2 OT); 1996 - Sarasota 21, Fort Myers 20 (OT); 1997 - Fort Pierce Central 44, Fort Myers 28; 1998 - Fort Myers 41, Palm Beach Gardens 0; St. Thomas Aquinas 24, Fort Myers 10; 1999 - Fort Myers 14, Hallandale 5; Fort Myers 54, Jupiter 13; St. Thomas Aquinas 41, Fort Myers 14; 2000 - Fort Myers 28, South Fork 10; Fort Myers 41, Centennial 17; St. Thomas Aquinas 41, Fort Myers 6; 2001 - Fort Myers 48, Ft. Lauderdale 8; St. Thomas Aquinas 21, Fort Myers 7; 2002 - Lakewood Ranch 18, Ft. Myers 17. 2003 - Ft. Myers 36, Charlotte 19; Armwood 20, Ft. Myers 12. 2004 - Ft. Myers 18, Bradenton Bayshore 7; Tampa Middleton 17, Ft. Myers 14 (OT). 2005 - Venice 28, Fort Myers 0. 2006 - Bradenton Manatee 28, Ft. Myers 7. 2007 - Bradenton Manatee 31, Ft. Myers 28; 2008 - Charlotte 41, Ft. Myers 7.
Home: 2-3 Away: 3-2 District: 2-3
Ft. Myers 14, Cypress Lake 13
Cape Coral 29, Ft. Myers 8
Ft. Myers 19, Dunbar 7
North Fort Myers 14, Fort Myers 13
Charlotte 34, Ft. Myers 0
Riverdale 39, Ft. Myers 20
Ft. Myers 34, Estero 27
South Fort Myers 43, Ft. Myers 10
Ft. Myers 35, Mariner 16
Ft. Myers 10, Bishop Verot 3