Team: Naples Golden Eagles
Sunshine State 25 Preseason Ranking: No. 21
Head Coach: Bill Kramer
2014 Record: 10-2
Look Back On 2014
2014 was one that Naples wishes they might have had back. With a team that had a solid 9-1 record going into the playoffs, the Golden Eagles were a force to reckoned with until Palm Bay Heritage pitched out the upset in the regional semifinals. Usually playing quality opponents last season, Naples was able to win the games it was expected to win without much issue outside the upset in the playoffs.
Players To Watch
CB/WR Tyler Bird, Sr.; RB Carlin Fils-Aime, Sr.; K Jerry Nunez, Sr.; S Chris Riley, Sr.; DT Colton Strickland, Sr.; OLB Robert Green, Sr.; DT Crandall Maines, Sr.; QB Kieran DiGiornio, Sr.; RB Antonio Carbonaro, Sr.; TE/QB Chris Hanlon, Jr.; CB Sammy Faustin, Jr.
If you are looking for a team that consistently achieves better than Naples in Collier or most of Southwest Florida, you won’t find them. Lead by longtime Head Coach Bill Kramer going into his 18th season as the head coach, the Golden Eagles are ready to pick up where they left from the 2014 season.
The defense will return eight starters from the same group that had allowed just over 10 points a game last season. Tyler Bird (Miami commit), Chris Riley (Naples Daily News SW Florida Defensive Player of the Year), Colton Strickland (holds FAMU offer) and Crandall Maines (3-year starter) will form the senior leadership group of the Golden Eagles defense,
On offense, the Golden Eagles will have a one-two punch in the backfield with Carlin Fils-Aime, who has three Southeastern Conference school on the list of five schools he will be considering to choose from. His teammate Antonio Carbone will join him in the backfield, where both have been starters since their sophomore seasons.
And special teams can’t not be forgotten here. Jerry Nunez is one of the top kickers in the nation who is back for his senior season as well. Coack Kramer said that Nunez will lead, what he calls, a dynamic special teams group. Nunez already holds the school for longest field goal at which is 53 yards.
Overall, the Golden Eagles will have talent on both sides of the ball and this team could have a chance to make a very deep run in the playoffs this season given the setup of the Class 6A South bracket for the next four years.
Naples was assigned to District 6A-12 in the recent reclassification cycle by the FHSAA. Barron Collier and Palmetto Ridge still remain as district and crosstown foes while Golden Gate makes a jump up from Class 5A to Class 6A to round out the district for this season. Given that Barron Collier can a make a push from time to time for district supremacy, we can’t fully say that Naples would win the district out right, but their chances this year far exceed what the chance for the rest of the district to bring home a district championship.
Three Games To Watch
Friday 8/28 vs. Delray American Heritage – The Golden Eagles will face an early test from one of the best Class 3A teams in the state that has no fear of playing teams like Naples. This game will very much be one to watch as both teams start season and the outcome could set the tone for Naples as they roll into the rest of their unusual nine game schedule.
Friday 10/23 at South Fort Myers – The Golden Eagles travel just up the road into Lee County to South Fort Myers where they will take on the Wolfpack. South Fort Myers has gone through a coaching change, but the transition has seem to be smooth and little drop is expected from what has consistently been one of the best teams in Lee County. For Naples, they will need to watch how South Fort Myers progresses through the season. There could be a chance that both teams walk into this game undefeated and a win here for either one will certainly provide a spark with the playoffs just a few weeks out at that point.
Friday 10/30 at Barron Collier – This game should be for the district championship if everything goes according to the way we think it will go. As we have said Barron Collier is willing to challenge and with a recent head coaching change here, there is new life that has been sparked into the program for the Cougars. For the Golden Eagles, if Barron Collier shows a dramatic improvement during the season up to this game, they will have to be prepared for the battle that would come with it.