If a grind-it-out run offense is the game plan for coach Brian Makar and the North Fort Myers Red Knights, then they should be very pleased with their display of 530 yards rushing and nine touchdowns against the Evangelical Christian Sentinels Friday night.
Senior tailback Dylan Czerlinski rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns in the first half to push the Knights to a 34-0 halftime lead they never relinquished en route to a 62-0 preseason final.
The Knights set the tone early, taking the opening drive 61 yards in just under four minutes into the ECS end zone. Senior quarterback Brandon Makar had the easy job of handing the ball off to Czerlinski four times before the tailback crossed the goal line from nine yards out. Connor Black's extra-point made it 7-0.
Following a disastrous punt attempt by ECS, the Knights took advantage of a short field and again ran the ball in. This time Makar called his own number from two yards and the score was quickly 14-0.
The second quarter began with more of the same. On the opening play, Czerlinski broke tackles around the left side and scampered in from 27 yards, the point after was good and North was ahead 21-0. The Knights' defense definitely came to play, and did not allow ECS a first down until six minutes to go in the second quarter. Following another Sentinel three-and-out, junior tailback Shannon Sims got in to the act.
Patiently following a strong offensive line, Sims broke to the open field and went 35 yards for the fourth North touchdown and a 28-0 advantage. The Knights offense was in no mood to stop there. An ECS punt gave them the ball at their own 38-yard line and five plays later Czerlinski tacked on his third TD run, this time from eight yards away. Black missed the extra-point and North led at the break 34-0.
In the third, Sims staked his claim for carrying the ball more. Junior quarterback Jake Duff handed him the ball three straight times. After runs of 23 and seven yards, Sims again broke free and went the distance from 35 yards out.
Once again North's defense did their part forcing an anemic Sentinel offense into another punt. Taking over just short of midfield, Duff wasted no time in calling his own number, breaking tackles and racing down the left sideline for a 53-yard score to round out the third quarter.
As in each of the previous two quarters, North struck on the opening play. It was that man Sims again. Eluding tacklers, the slightly built tailback broke in to the secondary and dove across the goal line from 32 yards.
Senior tailback Austin Campbell completed an impressive night of running by a host of backs by powering through the Sentinel defense from seven yards and the final score of the game.
An obviously happy coach praised his offensive line following the game, "They've worked so hard in the offseason and in preseason practice."
Brian Makar went on to say, "We can throw the ball if we want to, but our strength is in the running game."
North opens the season next Friday at home against Braden River.
Evang. Christian 0 0 0 0 - 0
North FM 14 20 14 14 - 62
NFM - Czerlinski 9 run (Black kick)
NFM - Makar 2 run (Black kick)
NFM - Czerlinski 27 run (Black kick)
NFM - Sims 35 run (Black kick)
NFM - Czerlinski 8 run (kick failed)
NFM - Sims 35 run (Black kick)
NFM - Duff 53 run (Black kick)
NFM - Sims 32 run (Black kick)
NFM - Campbell 7 run)