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Young Tritons look to pay dividend

August 9, 2017
By PETE SISK ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Mariner Tritons will be relying on a lot of young players this fall, but coach Travis Smith believes the experience they received as freshmen and sophomores will start to pay off in 2017.

Mariner got off to a 3-1 start last season, but the rigors of a rugged schedule took its toll as the season ground on and finished 3-7.

"I think all our kids have bought in at this point," Smith said. "What happened last year was that a lot of the time we lost the game before we even took the field. It was just a mentality thing, and it had to do with the kids being young, not having a lot of varsity experience. So when we went up against teams like Lely and Immokalee, these big giants and extremely fast, when we saw them it was like we lost before the kickoff even happened.

Article Photos


Mariner senior quarterback Hunter Rees rolls out during practice this week.

"We lost the mental game. I think that's what's going to change this year, the mental preparation, the ability to not be intimidated by somebody else."

Meanwhile, those youngsters got some valuable experience. That, with another year of growth and conditioning, could help the Tritons turn the corner.

Smith believes he has a solid successor to Cairo Juenegens, who graduated, at quarterback.

Fact Box

Mariner Tritons

2017 Schedule

Aug. 19 - vs. Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Aug. 25 - at Estero, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 1 - at Island Coast, 7:30 p.m.

x-Sept. 15 - vs. Cypress Lake, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 22 - at North Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.

x-Sept. 29 - at Clewiston, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 6 - vs. Ida Baker, 7:30 p.m.

x-Oct. 13 - at Lely, 7 p.m.

x-Oct. 20 - at Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.

x-Oct. 27 - vs. Immokalee, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 - vs. Cape Coral, 7:30 p.m.



Head Coach: Travis Smith ('14), 4th year (8-22)

Assistants: Nate Sund (off. coord./QB), Keeth Jones (OL/LB/Fresh.), Rob Gamache (RB/JV), Josh Nicholson (football operations/OL), Terrence Simmons (WR), Steven Pigott (LB/JV), Marques Salmond (def. coord./DL), Winfred Ward (DB/strength), Shelby Thomas (LB/JV), Doug Faasse (Fresh), Geovanni Garcia (Fresh), Joseph Gonsalves (Fresh).

Team Colors: black & silver

Stadium: Tony McKenna Field, 701 Chiquita Blvd.

Class/District: Dist. 5A-12, Region 3

Playoff History: 1991 - Mariner 21, Jesuit 6; Haines City 19, Mariner 16 (Regionals); 1997 - Miramar 40, Mariner 30; 1998 - Plantation 49, Mariner 19. 2003 - Bradenton Bayshore 20, Mariner 0. 2004 - Mariner 30, Charlotte 27 (2OT); Seffner Armwood 50, Mariner 7.


2016 Results

Record: 3-7 District: 1-3

Home: 1-3 Away: 2-4

Mariner 19, Estero 0

Bishop Verot 22, Mariner 13

Mariner 20, LaBelle 19

x-Mariner 14, Cypress Lake 6

North Fort Myers 34, Mariner 21

x-Lely 56, Mariner 0

x-Immokalee 67, Mariner 14

East Lee County 53, Mariner 28

x-Dunbar 40, Mariner 10

Cape Coral 35, Mariner 20


"Hunter Rees is going to be our starting quarterback," Smith said. "He's been part of our offense for the past three years. He knows the ins and outs, and everything about the O. He's got a great arm and he can run a little bit. He's going to step in and do just fine in that spot.

"We've got a sophomore (Dylan Hinez) behind him who's really taken to the offense, too. He's going to keep pushing Hunter. It's a good scenario at the quarterback position."

Smith said there will be small changes in the offense, more tweaks than anything else.

"Our strong point is going to be our offense," Smith said. "It's the second year in this system that the offensive line has been together. It's pretty much the same line as last year. We'll be super young on the line again this year with only one senior. We were pretty much sophomores across the board last year. They're a close-knit group of kids, and they're fun to watch out there."

In addition, Smith said the Tritons have "A similar quarterback (to Juenegens), and our wide receiver crew is going to be pretty good."

A trio of running backs will play prominent roles.

"We've got one guy (Zack Parker) who loves to take the football. He's like a bulldog, just runs the ball real hard," Smith said. "We've got a couple of pretty quick backs back there that can really move. So I'm excited to see what our offense can do."

The primary runners will be sophomore Cade Reynolds and senior Jordan Nee.

Smith said Parker, a sophomore, "is a good kid. He's not going to get the majority of the reps, but he'll definitely be a short-yardage kid. He's a linebacker too. He's a tough kid to take down. The kid can run."

The Tritons are hoping the defense takes a step forward this year.

"The biggest change we made was on the defense," Smith said. "We've got a new defensive coordinator coming in. We'll be running a similar scheme, but there will be a lot more moving around, bouncing in and out of defensive fronts."

Smith said Justin Cardones, who plays offensive line, will be a key player on the Tritons' defensive front.

Marques Salmond replaces Keeth Jones, who has since become Mariner's boys' basketball coach and has to give more of his time to that role. Jones still will have a role in football as the head freshman team coach.

"The defense will be a work in progress," Smith said. "I think we're going to surprise some people defensively."

Salmond had been coaching high school football in Missouri.

"One thing we defintely have is coaching," Smith said. "We're able to really focus. It's a good coach-to-player ratio" with 13 coaches on the staff. "We're not missing any of the kids. We've got some new coaches, a couple of veteran coaches that have come in. I'm just really excited about our coaching staff."

What already was a tough district gets even tougher this year with the addition of Clewiston to the District 5A-12 lineup of Immokalee, Lely, Dunbar and Cypress Lake.

"It's going to present some challenges, but I think the kids are up to the challenge," Smith said. "We've got them now to where they're working to win. At first they wanted to win, but not to put in the work. Now they've decided to put the work in. It's believing they can do it."

After a preseason classic game against Charlotte on Aug. 19, the Tritons begin the season on the road at Estero on Aug. 25.



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