Game Balls: Top performers for Week 5 of the Southwest Florida high school football season

It's amazing what can happen when the weather finally cooperates on a Friday Night.

It took til Week 5 to have no delays for rain or lightning, no moats encircling football fields and no gridirons turned into mud pits.

With perfect conditions, Southwest Florida got to see some outstanding performances.  Some rose above others with big-time plays deciding games, turning tides or just being dominant. We are here to honor some of those top players by handing out our Week 5 Game Balls.

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Jaden Booker, Rich Mellien dominate

Big-time players make big-time plays in the big games. Welcome to the stage, Mr. Booker. The First Baptist senior running back showed out in Friday's game against Bishop Verot as two of the top teams — definitely top offenses — in Southwest Florida combined for 98 points and 981 yards to total offense. Booker ran for 223 yards and five touchdowns and was a fright to stop all night.

Then steps in Mellien, who had a 62-yard run on a fake punt that resulted in a touchdown in the second half to give the Lions a 28-21 lead. Mellien completed both of his passes for 25 yards and ran for 189 yards on just seven carries after taking over for sophomore quarterback Ethan Crossan, who left the game with a lower leg injury.

Carter Smith to Tookie Watts

Scenes from the  First Baptist Academy football team win over Bishop Verot at FBA on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Bishop Verot's Tookie Watts catches a touchdown from Carter Smith.
Scenes from the First Baptist Academy football team win over Bishop Verot at FBA on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Bishop Verot's Tookie Watts catches a touchdown from Carter Smith.

The Bishop Verot quarterback-wide receiver combo gave First Baptist fits. Watts caught nine passes for 118 yards and caught all three of Smith’s passing touchdowns. The sophomore signal caller completed 22-of-36 passes for 230 yards. Smith’s rushing game was still limited after he suffered a leg injury last week, but freshman running back Deshon Jenkins picked up the slack, rushing 28 times for 144 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

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Estero's Stonewall Defense

Granted, Cape Coral's offense does not have much firepower, but how often do you see a 3-0 final score? When the 5-0 Wildcats absolutely, positively needed stops they got them and they needed them as their only points were an early field goal. Estero now has four shutouts in five games and has not allowed an offense to score on them. And with a young, mistake- and turnover-prone Gateway High squad ahead, the Wildcats will look to keep the clean sheets coming.

Speaking of Gateway High...

PHOTO BY KAT EDWARDS Gateway's Dylan Alif gets air to catch the ball during Friday's game against Lemon Bay
PHOTO BY KAT EDWARDS Gateway's Dylan Alif gets air to catch the ball during Friday's game against Lemon Bay

The Eagles' QB-wide receiver combo of JJ McElroy and Danny Alif continue their progression this season as they helped lift Gateway to their first win over neighborhood rival Gateway Charter 21-8.

McElroy, a sophomore quarterback, threw a shovel pass to sophomore running back Oscar Martinez for his team's first score and ran in a quarterback sneak to tie the game 8-8. McElroy then worked with his favorite target, senior wideout Dylan Alif. The two combined four times for 102 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles ahead for good late in the second quarter.

Guerschom Guerrier a bear to stop

Lely senior running back Guerschom Guerrier rushed for 173 yards on 13 carries and scored four touchdowns in the Trojans' win against Palmetto Ridge. Guerrier now has 538 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.

Guerrier almost single-handedly swung the game with two plays. After Palmetto QB Dimitri Zertopoulis connected with RB Mark Whalen for a 49-yard catch-and-run, the Bears were in the red zone threatening to cut their deficit to one score. Instead, on third down, Guerrier sacked Zertopoulis for a 9-yard loss. The Bears failed to convert on fourth down, and on the next play Guerrier exploded for an 85-yard touchdown to make it 20-0. That sequence set the tone for the rest of the game.

John Lee Honorat lifts the Titans

Honorat may have finished with just 93 yards rushing but he peeled off a 52-yard touchdown run in the final two minutes of the game as Golden Gate defeated Gulf Coast 13-12. Honorat also scored the Titans' other touchdown when Brian Bachmann threw an 11-yard scoring pass to him with 2:30 gone in the second quarter.

Tommy Mooncotch airs it out

Mooncotch excelled, going 16-for-24 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, often connecting with playmakers Brody Graham and Rodney Rogers, as the Cougars remained undefeated with a 23-0 win over Immokalee.

Mooncotch opened up the scoring with a 37-yard pass down the sideline to Graham. Mooncotch stretched the lead in the third quarter, punching in a score on the goal line, and threw a 62-yard rocket to Graham for the game’s final touchdown. Rogers caught four passes for 60 yards while Graham led the team with six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Mariner's Noah Tolbert does it all

Junior Noah Tolbert did just about everything to help Mariner secure a victory Friday over Bonita Springs. He passed for nearly 100 yards, rushed for a team-high 77 yards, and caught two passes for 66 yards. He also played the entire game on defense. The win was the Tritons' third of the year, surpassing last year's two.

“There’s no kid that’s going to play the game harder than Noah Tolbert,” Mariner coach Nicholson said. “Now that he’s starting to get it off the field, starting to get that maturity and that leadership role, that kid’s going to be dangerous. He’s somebody people are going to have to pay attention to.”

Madrid Tucker had himself a night

The sophomore sensation scored three touchdowns, had 101 yards from scrimmage, had two interceptions, and recovered a fumble to lead a second-half comeback as Fort Myers notched a come-from-behind 34-23 victory over Charlotte.

Chris McFoley hit Tucker on a 22-yard scoring play to give Fort Myers the lead for good in the third quarter. After Tucker recorded his first interception later in the third, he got the honors as McFoley hit him again for an 18-yard touchdown and a Green Wave 27-16 lead. Tucker would get another pick late in the game to help seal the victory.

Gee, Kendrick Raphael and Isaiah Augustave again

The Golden Eagles made sure Miami Killian felt their drive back home after dropping a 56-6 win on Friday night.

And has been the story all season, Naples leaned heavily on its two Power Five running backs. Kendrick Raphael (decommited from Iowa this week) finished the contest with 164 rushing yards on seven carries with three touchdowns. Isaiah Augustave (Arkansas) rushed for 79 yards on four carries with two touchdowns. Augustave scored both touchdowns within two minutes of the opening kickoff. Quarterback Niko Boyce got into the act this week as he ran for 106 yards on eight carries and scored on a keeper as well as a 20-yard touchdown pass to Nick Keel.

This Week's Results

Thursday

Parish Community 28, LaBelle 20

Friday

First Baptist 56, Bishop Verot 42

Bradenton Christian 10, Oasis 8

Fort Myers 34, Charlotte 23

Riverdale 42, Cypress Lake 0

Estero 3, Cape Coral 0

Gateway 21, Gateway Charter 8

Golden Gate 13, Gulf Coast 12

Ida Baker 35, North Port 3

Barron Collier 23, Immokalee 0

Naples 56, Killian 6

LaSalle 43, South Fort Myers 33

Lely 46, Palmetto Ridge 0

Mariner 24, Bonita Springs 17

St. John Neumann 22, St. Pete Catholic 16

Island Coast 20, East Lee County 17

SFCA def. Marco Island by forfeit

Next Week's Schedule

Friday

  • Bishop Verot at Key West

  • Bonita Springs at Lely

  • Canterbury at Keswick Christian

  • Cape Coral at North Fort Myers

  • Charlotte at Riverdale

  • Cypress Lake at Dunbar

  • First Baptist at ECS

  • Fort Myers at East Lee County

  • Gateway at Estero

  • Immokalee at South Fort Myers

  • Lehigh at Ida Baker

  • Mariner at Island Coast

  • Oasis at CSN

  • Palmetto Ridge at Gulf Coast

  • St. John Neumann at LaBelle

  • SFCA at Moore Haven

  • Barron Collier at Naples, 7:30 p.m.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral top Week 5 high school football players