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Southwest Florida high school football games to watch in Week 7

Football returns for some schools following Hurricane Ian, while others still wait

NAPLES, FLORIDA – Southwest Florida continues to dig itself out of the wreckage caused by Hurricane Ian.

Electricity is being restored. Boil water notices are being lifted. Restaurants are reopening. Long lines at the gas pump are disappearing.

As the area continues to recover from the devastating Category 4 storm, people are trying to get back to normal. And in Florida, there's nothing more normal – and loved – than Friday night lights.

High school football returns to the region this Friday after Ian wiped out last week's slate of games. However, not every team will take the field.

Teams in Collier County, where Naples is located, plan to play. The county was spared from the most devastating effects of the hurricane. The effects largely came from storm surge on the coast. The schools resumed classes this week.

That's not the case in Lee County (home of Fort Myers) and Charlotte County (Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte), where 155 mile per hour winds knocked down buildings, including some schools. Many residents in those counties remain without power, and the school districts still don't know when they can reopen.

In the meantime, here are the six games that will be played in Week 7:

Game of the Week

Barron Collier (4-0, 1-0) at Naples (4-1, 1-0)

This is one of the area's biggest rivalries, even if it's completely one-sided.

Barron Collier used to be the biggest bully on the block in Collier County. That changed when Naples ended a 10-game losing streak to Barron in 1999. Since then the Golden Eagles have two state titles and zero losses to their crosstown rival.

Naples has beaten Barron Collier 23 straight times, and only a few of those have been by single digits. This year the teams have just one loss between them. And the winner will be in the driver's seat for the Class 3S-District 16 title.

The last time out, Naples rushed for 435 yards while beating Miami-Killian, 56-6. Barron Collier threw for 253 yards in a 23-0 win over Immokalee.

Naples football

Naples football returned to practice on Tuesday in preparation for its Friday night showdown with Barron Collier.

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Palmetto Ridge (1-3, 0-0) at Gulf Coast (3-2, 0-0)

This games doesn't have a fancy name like some rivalries in Collier County. However these teams, separated by just a few miles in North Naples, have had some heated match-ups in the past. And this year, they're two of the three teams in Class 4S-District 16 (along with Immokalee), so the winner is halfway to a district championship.

Gulf Coast started 3-0, including an impressive win over a quality Port Charlotte team. However, the Sharks' offense has been stagnant in two straight losses. Two weeks ago Gulf Coast fell, 13-12, to Golden Gate. Palmetto Ridge's offense has been stagnant the whole season. Since a 22-14 win over Key West in Week 1, the Bears have been outscored 137-8.

Community School of Naples (2-1) at Canterbury (4-0)

This is a showdown between two private-school programs that can put up points. It's also the only game in Lee County. Canterbury is the only school in the county that is able to play. The public schools haven't reopened since Hurricane Ian, and the other private schools still are assessing damage.

Canterbury, an FHSAA independent, has outscored opponents 122-27 this season. The Cougars gave up just six points in their first three games before a 42-21 win on Sept. 16. All of CSN's games have been close, with all three decided by a total of 18 points.

Neither team has played in three weeks. Both had byes on Sept. 23, then last week's games were canceled by the storm.

Okeechobee (1-4) at Immokalee (2-3)

Despite getting shut out, Immokalee moved the ball well in a 23-0 loss to Barron Collier on Sept. 23. Indians quarterback Trannon Villarreal has thrown for 543 yards and rushed for 570 this season. Okeechobee's only win this season came by forfeit. The Brahmans haven't score more than 14 points in any game.

Golden Gate (2-3) at IMG Blue (3-2)

Golden Gate ended a three-game losing streak with a 13-12 win over Gulf Coast the last time out. Sophomore running back Trayvon Jean is having a breakout season for the Titans with 521 rushing yards in four games. IMG Blue is the third-string team of nationally-ranked powerhouse IMG Academy out of Bradenton.

Somerset Key (0-5) at St. John Neumann (2-2)

It's been an up-and-down year for the host Celtics, who have alternated wins and losses all season. Neumann's last game was a 22-16 win over St. Petersburg Catholic on Sept. 23. Sommerset, a second-year program, has been outscored 217-30 in its five losses.