What started with hope and anticipation under the Friday night football lights last weekend soon turned ugly as a vicious lightning, thunder and heavy rainstorm roared through Southwest Florida just before kickoff.
Teams and fans sought shelter wherever they could to wait out the storm, but the storm won and games were postponed or outright cancelled.
Cape Coral, Mariner and North Fort Myers all were at home when the storm came and delayed kickoff until Saturday morning. Island Coast was not as lucky. The Saturday kickoff was cancelled when game officials were not rescheduled at Riverdale. Oasis' home game with St. John Neumann and Bishop Verot's road trip to Lemon Bay also were cancelled.
Ida Baker, fortunately for them, had left town hours before the storm for a long bus ride to Key West. Kickoff was delayed, but only because the bus ran late.
Three other postponed games were played Monday night.
Everyone hopes Mother Nature is a little more cooperative this week.
Cape Coral 35, Estero 19: Hulking defensive end James Castleberry reveled in the chance to play in searing conditions Saturday morning at Dave Warkentin Field and was the top motor guy all game long for the Seahawks unit that snuffed out visiting Estero in a non-district encounter.
The teams were scheduled to play Friday night, but original plans were scrubbed by the frequent lightning and heavy rains that inundated the area. The game was one of several locally and dozens in the state to be moved, a situation that suited Castleberry just fine.
"Sure, I was a little disappointed," the 6-foot-1 senior said. "But you know what? It takes hard work to come out here in the heat like this. We come out every play. It doesn't matter if it's going to be hot, cold, snow or wind. We come out 100 percent every time."
With the Seahawks holding a two-touchdown lead, the defense made a third-down stop and forced Estero punter Jack Spiker into the game several paces behind his own 11-yard line. The snap from Eric Hobbs sailed high off the 6-foot-3 junior's outstretched fingertips and into the end zone, where a hustling Castleberry pounced on it.
Seahawks kicker Mateo Perez made the extra-point, and, just that quickly, a two-score lead became 35-13 to the delight of the sweat-soaked but still energized lineman.
"I saw the ball and I just ran after it as far as I could. That's how I do it, 100 percent every play, every day and every night," Castleberry said. "I'm looking for the ball. I want the ball every play."
Estero turned the ball over a total of four times in the game, punted three times and had three drives stopped on downs.
Seahawks quarterback Dylan Bontrager connected with receivers C.J. Lewis, Rasheen Bailey and Austin Cole for TD passes of seven, 92 and 37 yards. Eamon Smart rushed for 99 yards and scored one TD.
The Seahawks (2-0) bus across town to invade the Ida Baker Bulldogs (2-0) this Friday night.
Island Coast at Riverdale ccd: Friday's torrential rainstorm that postponed Island Coast's game at Riverdale, and eventual cancellation when game officials were not rescheduled for Saturday morning, could wind up costing the Gators (0-1) in this week's district opener against South Fort Myers (1-0) with the loss of actual live game experience.
A lot can be accomplished in practices, but there's no substitute for live action.
The two teams have different bye weeks, so the non-district contest will not be rescheduled.
Riverdale has an open date on Sept. 27, when Island Coast has a district game against Mariner. When the Gators' open date rolls around on Nov. 8, Riverdale is playing rival Lehigh.
Ida Baker 26, Key West 20: Baker took an early lead then held off a late surge by homestanding Key West last Friday night.
The Bulldogs (2-0) stay home this Friday night to face their second crosstown rivalry matchup in the first three weeks as the Cape Coral Seahawks (2-0) come calling at Bulldogs Stadium.
Palmetto Ridge 28, Mariner 7: Even though coach James Hale says he thinks his Tritons are getting better each week, it has yet to translate into points on the scoreboard. The Tritons suffered their second defeat of the season on Saturday in their weather-delayed home debut against Palmetto Ridge.
In each game so far, the Tritons have managed just one touchdown for a total of 15 points. Friday night, it was Brennan Williams scoring the touchdown on a 60-plus-yard run.
The Tritons turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard line.
Next up for the Tritons (0-2) is a visit to Port Charlotte this Friday.
Freelance writers Pete Sisk, Lyle Fitzsimmons and Neil Blair-Bennett contributed to this report.