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East Lee drops to North Fort Myers

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Sep 30, 2020

North Fort Myers High School receiver Danny Pilgrim heads for the end zone on a touchdown reception in the first quarter of a game against East Lee High School in Lehigh Acres on Thursday.


In the pre-season projected all-area teams, North Fort Myers football player Tavin Ward seemed to get overlooked, which provided him with plenty of motivation once the games started. Ward made people stand up and take notice Thursday against East Lee as he scored four times, two through the air, one on the ground and another on a punt return as the Red Knights cruised to a 48-0 road victory in a game that was played with a running clock the entire second half, with 8-minute quarters.

“I had a great performance, but I have to give it up to the line. They did a great job and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Ward said. “My coach told me I needed to start fielding punts and I had a chance to break it and I did.”

“Tavin is a special player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. When he didn’t get in the Top 15, we felt he was disrespected,” North coach Dwayne Mack said. “He’s a great player who needed an opportunity and now he’s showing his skills.”

The Red Knights (2-0) scored on their first two plays from scrimmage (they also scored on the opening kickoff, but it was called back on a penalty). Luke Leongas threw the first of his four touchdown passes to Santino Arroyo for 65 yards, then another to Daniel Pilgrim for 59 yards, both on screen passes, to give North a 14-0 lead just two minutes into the game.

Ward took over from there, first running it in from eight yards out to make it 20-0, then on a 32-yard pass from Leongas late in the first quarter to make it 27-0.

A middle screen to Ward had the Jaguar defense chasing him into the end zone later in the second quarter before a 60-yard punt return near the end of the first half made it 42-0.

Mack said it was the screen passes that doomed East Lee, as it wasn’t able to stop them.

“We saw some things on film that we could take advantage of. Now, we have to get ready for our next opponent, Ida Baker,” Mack said. “We’ll celebrate this win for 24 hours, then get ready for the next one.”

Brandon Bush found time in the second half to kick two field goals, from 32 and 42 yards out to complete the scoring.

East Lee (0-3) had some bright spots in the second quarter as Johnny Brown III led the offense to the North three-yard line against mostly North’s second-string defense.

However, Emmanuel Spandiary ended the drive with an interception in the end zone, with a second drive later stopped on a Domonic Rendon fumble recovery, two of the four Jaguar turnovers on the night.

Dominic Castagna recovered two fumbles in the second half for North Fort Myers.


27 15 3 3 – 48


0 0 0 0 – 0

First quarter

NFM – Santino Arroyo, 65-yard pass from Luke Leongas (Brandon Bush kick), 11:34.

NFM – Daniel Pilgrim, 59-yard pass from Leongas (Bush kick), 9:50.

NFM – Tavin Ward, 11-yard run (kick failed), 6:17.

NFM – Ward, 32-yard pass from Leongas (Bush kick), 4:07.

Second quarter

NFM – Ward, 55-yard pass from Leongas (Bush kick), 5:09.

NFM – Ward, 60-yard punt return (Bush kick), 1:24.

Third quarter

NFM – Bush, 32-yard field goal, 3:00.

Fourth quarter

NFM – Bush, 42-yard field goal, 2:00.