Key West vs. Gateway, Oct. 27. Photos by GRACE ANDREW/Keys Weekly

Coral Shores started their third quarterback in as many weeks on Oct. 27 against Somerset Academy South Homestead, and from the way AJ Putetti played, it’s difficult to believe he had never taken the snaps before Friday. Putetti and the Hurricanes started the game fast, marching down the field 68 yards on their opening drive. Dantay Diorio put the ’Canes on the board with a 4-yard touchdown run. The ’Canes’ kicker was not feeling well, so Coral Shores went for 2 and got them. 

The Hurricanes had a bit of trouble in the middle of quarter one, fumbling the ball on their second drive and fueling a quick touchdown and 2-point conversion from Somerset to tie the game at 8. Diorio quickly scored two more TDs, one on a 4-yard run and one punching it in from the 1-yard line. 

Though the ’Canes were up 24-8, the game was far from in the bag and Somerset was driving again. Putetti, playing double duty on defense, intercepted a pass, then stayed on the field to run his offense. He threw a pass of his own, this one landing in the hands of Diorio for a 33-yard touchdown to end the half 30-8.

Diorio had a 6-yard touchdown early in the second half, then Somerset added their final points to the game. Late in the contest, with the ’Canes up 38-16, Putetti dove in for a 1-yard touchdown. For the final extra point attempt, Putetti split the uprights in his first career kicking attempt, giving the first-time quarterback a running touchdown, a passing touchdown, an extra point kick and an interception to help fuel the ’Canes to their fifth win of the season, 45-14.

Coral Shores plays Nov. 2 at Ransom for third place in their conference. The 5-4 ’Canes are looking for win number six and some redemption against a team that beat them by just 5 points on Sept. 29. 

Key West held their homecoming game against Gateway on Oct. 27 in front of a packed crowd. The matchup was a must-win in order to keep the Conchs statistically alive in the hunt for a playoff game. Key West is the only Monroe County team eligible for the state championship series, as the other schools operate as independents. 

The night would be a game of big plays, starting off with a 49-yard touchdown run from Walson Morin. Morin hit for another TD on the Conchs’ next possession, this one for 21 yards. Next up for the Conchs’ onslaught was QB Adrian Mira, who carried the ball 65 yards but was stopped just shy of the goal line. He carried it in the final 3 yards on the next play for Key West’s third score of the night. Morin added a second 21-yard touchdown run, followed by a Brondson Etienne 76-yard score. Clerff Alexandre ran for 65 yards for the Conchs’ final touchdown of the game, a resounding 42-0 victory over the Fort Myers squad.

In its first shutout of the season, Key West’s defense came out strong and stayed that way the entire game. Etienne was outstanding at defensive end, rushing the passer all night long. Corners Jondel Toro and Jeff Dejean locked down the Eagles’ receivers, nullifying any hopes of Gateway’s spread offense to put points on the board. Also in the Conchs’ favor was a game free of turnovers, something which has plagued them much of the season. The district win gave the Conchs a 3-6 record and allowed them to stay mathematically alive in their quest for a postseason run. 

Key West will need to defeat the 8-0 Mavericks of Archbishop McCarthy on Nov. 3 to boost its power rankings in order to have a hope of a playoff game. Kickoff for the Conchs is 7 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale.

Marathon hosted Palmer Trinity School on Oct. 26. The game served as senior night, honoring the Fins’ members of the Class of 2024 before kickoff. The freshman-heavy roster boasts just two seniors this season, Yaniel Garcia and Alex Cruz. 

Marathon was the underdog of the contest – Palmer has six wins this season and has beaten both Coral Shores and Ransom, two teams that defeated Marathon earlier this season.

The Fins were down by just 7 in the first quarter and were driving the ball, but a fumble deep in Falcon territory turned the ball over. Marathon’s defense then found some steam and managed to pin Palmer back in what could have been great field position. But on third and 24, Palmer broke for an 87-yard touchdown run, breaking Marathon’s spirits in the process. 

The Dolphins started to get things rolling by the end of the second quarter, but ran out of time. With just seconds left in the half and no points on the board, Marathon’s Fabbianho Louis Jeune connected on a booming 51-yard field goal, breathing life back into the crowd and breaking Ryan Parros’ long-standing school record at the same time. In the second half, the Fins did manage some long drives and Carlos Lezcano capitalized on one of them, adding a 7-yard touchdown run to his stats. Louis Jeune added the point-after to give Marathon 10.

“We played well in the second half,” Marathon coach Sean McDonald said of the loss. “It was just too late.” 

McDonald had high praise for Josh Wall, who stepped in for an injured Tanner Ross at fullback. “Wall ran well and is really coming into his own,” he said, “and Charlie (Apollony) came in at tailback and caught a pass. They are good players and they are going to be great. The team is working hard. We are young and we knew it would be a struggle, but we are keeping our heads up and we are going to put in the work in the weightroom. The payoff is coming.” 

The 40-10 loss puts the Fins at 2-7 this season with one game to go. They play Somerset South Homestead at Harris Field on Nov. 3.

Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.