Venice, May 11, 2018 – “The one thing we have to do moving forward is we have to work harder than we’ve worked, we can’t do the same things we did last year. Have to be in better shape and more prepared because we’ve got a target on our back, so we have to come together as a team; there are a lot of new faces and no one is going to go easy on us, we are defending champs.” ~ Coach Larry Shannon, Venice Indians.
One of the most difficult tasks in sports is defending your team’s championship status and retaining that title the following year. Especially, coming off a championship year the way Venice High did, with a punishing 14-1 record, ranking now 27th nationally and 3rd in the Sunshine State. All good things come to an end at some point, and with their top-tier senior leaders now graduated out of the program, there are some pieces to the puzzle missing. Nevertheless, the Indians are far from ready to hang em’ up, as they continue to prepare the guys next in line to fill these giant shoes, but with their 79-man roster depth cut to 46, it’s going to be a hard-earned battle back to the cup.
Their first item of business- filling man #1’s slot. “We lost 7A player of the year, our quarterback, Bryce Carpenter- some big shoes to fill. Hayden Wolff is going to be stepping up for us now, he has a great arm and I’m looking forward to him leading and taking offensive snaps for us now in the 2018 season,” states Coach Shannon. The 6’2” 200-pound four-year man Bryce, topped their victorious season off accumulating 3053 passing yards with only 1 game in which he didn’t throw for over 100+, 191 completions on 315 attempts, averaged 203.5 YPG posting 42 TD’s 12 interceptions, 1274 all-purpose yards, and a total QBR of 116.7!
“We are replacing our starting wide receiver that basically led the nation in yards, catches and touchdowns, Jaivon Heigligh. He put up phenomenal numbers for us and was pretty much double- teamed by everyone he faced, so as of now we’re still waiting for a guy to separate himself and step up, were doing receiver by committee essentially,” Coach exclaims. The 6’2” 175-pound two-way player Jaivon showcased his complete dominance in 2017, making himself accountable for 194 of Venice’s scoring points, racking up 2159 receiving yards on 131 catches, 143.9 RYPG, tallying 32 touchdowns and had 12 100+ yard games out of 15 played!
Coach Shannon goes on to say, “Our TE Zach Fryar is a returning starter, he’ll help with that production lost from Jaivon- he had great year last year and he’s definitely going to be a leading target this upcoming season. We have strong O-line, some kids are new, but half our line is back and one stepping up for us, newest addition at Guard, Chris Sauickie who I believe will have a strong season this year for us.”
“Some of biggest shoes to fill is on defense, we lost 8 starters so the biggest challenge will be replacing those championship seniors. At DE Marlem Louis is going to be starting for us now he’ll have a big year, we have another DE were expecting big things from, Carson Sullivan- those 2 we’re expecting to put in work for us in 2018. Had to replace 3 linebackers- expecting Nick Giacolond to be a main piece, so looking forward to him leading our defense at a high level. Expecting big things out of our senior Free Safety Noah Carr that has been with us in our program for a while, very physical player always around the ball, so he’ll be the guy in the secondary to make the calls and line everyone up, from him, he’s a ball hawk, it’s going to be a good and promising defensive unit again.”
All in all, there are going to be some long and hot summer practices for these new faces, but Coach Shannon is investing his faith in his newly-built group to gear up and take on their respected roles from a highly-praised State Title unit and bring that trophy home again.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor