CLASS 7A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
9 months ago -- Sat, Dec 9, 2017 8:07 PM
The Venice Indians are making their second appearance in a FHSAA State Championship Game. They won the 2000 Class 5A State Championship with a 77-14 thrashing of Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer and the 77 points that they scored are still a state finals record.
Venice comes into this game sporting a 13-1 record and they have outscored their four opponents by a 265-82 margin. They mashed St. Petersburg 49-13 in the first round, defeated Bradenton Braden River 41-32 in round two, dominated Tampa Bay Tech 48-17 in the regional final, and ousted state powerhouse Fort Lauderdale St Thomas Aquinas 27-20 in the state semifinals last week.
Offensively, Venice will be led by four year starter Bryce Carpenter who has amassed 10,000 yards of total and has been responsible for 133(83 passing 50 rushing) touchdowns during his tenure. This season, Carpenter has passed for 2,873 yards with 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Carpenter also has rushed for 1,060 yards and 18 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh is Carpenter's go to guy, he has 123 catches for 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns! Junior tight end Zach Fryer(15 catches 303 yards 5tds) gives Carpenter another target as well. Brandon Gregory is a junior running back who has 622 yards rushing with 8 scores and senior Court Doss contributed 567 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Indians run a 4-4 defense and have a very strong front eight. The defensive line is anchored by seniors Tyrone Barber(125 tackles 11 tackles for loss 6 sacks), Riley Prachar(106 tackles 12 tfls 7.5 sacks), and Weston Bolyard(85 tackles 2 sacks). Junior Carson Sullivan also contributed 125 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, and 6 sacks from his defensive end position. Venice also has good production from their quartet of linebackers. Seniors Caleb Smith(146 tackles 5 tfls 2 sacks), Noah Lay(102 tackles 10tfls 3 sacks), Drue Streich(96 tackles 10tfls 1 sack), and junior Denique Mayfield(120 tackles 3tfls 4 sacks 2ints) make up a good linebacking corps. Seniors Noah Carr(94 tackles 6ints) and Jared Bailey(76 tackles 3ints) lead the secondary.
St. Johns Bartram Trail Bears are making their first appearance in a FHSAA State Championship Game, the Bears have advanced to the state semifinals in 2007, 2011, and 2013.
Bartram Trail has a record of 11-3 and have outscored opponents 177-77 during the post season. They crushed Clermont East Ridge 56-14 in round one, trounced Tallahassee Lincoln 49-21 in round two, spanked Orange Park Fleming Island 38-13 in the regional final, and edged state powerhouse Tampa Plant 34-29 in the state semifinals last week.
The Bears run a Spread offense and rotate two senior quarterbacks. Joey Gatewood(6'5 220) completed 69% of his passes for 1,355 yards with 12 touchdowns and 1 interception. Gatewood has also rushed for 1,029 yards with 15 scores. Riley Smith(6'5 210) completed 66% of his passes for 1,367 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Smith has rushed for 587 yards and 8 scores. Junior Devin Ellison has 1,197 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. Ellison also caught 19 passes for 166 yards. Senior Xavier Hutchinson(68 catches 916 yards 11 touchdowns), junior Griffin Helm(45 catches 604 yards 5 touchdowns), junior Gunnar Hitzeman(33 catches 597 yards 5 touchdowns), and senior Kevin Maurer(16 catches 202 yards 3 touchdowns) are the targets in the passing game for Gatewood and Smith.
Defensively, Bartram Trail is led by senior Johnny Amell(83 tackles 8 tackles for a loss), senior Corbein Hagans(70 tackles 6tfls), junior Chase Ruskin(68 tackles 6tfls), and senior Olivier Pageotte-Andre(57 tackles 3tfls) lead the Bears defense.