The scene was delirium after Lely defensive back Omar Vilsaint’s interception ended a furious Ida Baker rally and preserved Lely’s 28-26 playoff win Friday night at Trojan Stadium.
Lely led the whole way, and seemed to have put the game away in the fourth quarter after quarterback JJ Dervil tightrope-walked the sideline and dove to the pylon on a highlight-reel 19-yard touchdown, then flung a 65-yard touchdown bomb to Anthony Felix with 7:42 left in the game. However, Lely almost let their 28-13 lead slip away.
In a game that featured six Lely interceptions, a safety for Lely, an onside kick recovery for Ida Baker, and a blocked punt scoop and score for Ida Baker, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Lely saw their late lead quickly evaporate.
“We do make it interesting, that’s for sure,” Lely Head Coach J.J. Everage joked. “Hats off to Ida Baker. They never quit. Even when we were up two touchdowns with six minutes to play. They just kept playing hard. Our kids, we’re young. We just have to learn to finish what we start.”
Dervil, who came into the game bothered by a shoulder injury, showed grit, playing both ways as a quarterback and defensive back. He had to be treated by the team’s trainer throughout the game.
“We had a quarterback banged up tonight,” Everage said. “JJ’s a special kid. He’s had a banged-up shoulder since last week. Didn’t even know if he could throw the ball at all tonight. Right up to the last minute. He threw a couple of touchdown passes. That’s the competitor in him. He just found the adrenaline. He’s an important part of our program both offensively and defensively.”
Dervil threw touchdown passes of 33 and 66 yards to Anthony Felix to go with his touchdown run.
“I’m real proud of our kids,” Everage said. “I’m happy for the Lely community that we get a playoff win, finally. It’s been a long time coming since Lely’s had a playoff win. It’s a good building block. Last year, our team made the playoffs and lost in the first round. This is something our team last year didn’t do.”
Last year’s team had a better regular–season record, finishing 6-5, but dropped their playoff game, 47-7, against east coast power Fort Lauderdale Dillard. This year’s playoff win is Lely’s first since 2014, when they knocked off Miami Jackson, 28-25, before falling to another state power, Plantation American Heritage, 43-13.
“I know our record doesn’t show it,” Everage said, “but I told our team before, we’re probably one of the best 2-5 teams in the state. We could have easily been 7-0.”
Lely, 3-5, has endured more than its share of tough breaks while playing toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in SW Florida. The Trojans dropped tough games to unbeaten Palmetto Ridge (16-0), once–beaten Naples (16-6) and twice beaten Barron Collier (53-52). Only a 42-0 loss to Bishop Verot saw the Trojans being outplayed.
The Trojans face a tall order when they travel to take on national power Miami Central on Friday.
“The number 17 team in the country,” Everage said. “It’s the experience. We’re going to prepare like we can win the game. We’re not going to think any way different. And the kids have to understand that. Like Rick Flair says, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.’ If you want a highlight film, you’ve got to make plays against a team like that.”