Apparently Venice is pretty good.
Coastal Carolina commit Bryce Carpenter is the do everything quarterback for the Venice Indians. He went 10 for 19 for 180 yards passing. He also carried the ball 40 times for 214 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win over Bartram Trail to claim the 7A state championship for the Indians for the first time since 2000. Carpenter nearly set the record for carries in a championship game. The record is 44 set by Kevin Taylor Glades Day (Belle Glade) in 2010.
“It was just a bunch a kids that stuck together and worked hard,” said Carpenter. We just believed in each other and believed in our team just an unbelievable team win.”
Last week Venice pulled the unthinkable and halted St. Thomas Aquinas’s quest for four straight championships. Proving that last week was no fluke.
Senior Jaivon Heiligh also committed to Coastal Carolina seemed to catch everything thrown his way despite being double and triple teamed. He would finish the game with eight receptions for 159 yards including a 64-yarder where he stayed in bounds for a good 20 yards with a defender trying to drag him down. He surely has earned more offers.
“They tried to double and triple, I seen four on one play. I kept making plays tha’s what I’ve done all season. I gotta keep doing it next year and keep going,” said Heiligh. “We just keep working hard, [Me and Bryce] are going to college together it’s just going to be a great time.”
Venice came out scoring early and often and simply manhandled the Bears defensive line with their rushing attack. They wore down the Bartram front and never looked back scoring on 12, 8, 9, and 8 play scoring drives to build a 20-3 lead at halftime.
Perhaps they should have looked back because Bartram would mount a comeback in the second half making big plays in the passing game. Bartram Trail were running a double quarterback system just as they have all year. The two QBs that will be playing in the FBS division next season are pro-style quarterback Riley Smith and Auburn dual threat commit Joey Gatewood.
Gatewood, with that 6-5, 235 pound frame would force his way over the goal line to trim the lead 37-24 with 9:19 to play in the game. On 3rd and 6 in an attempt to run out the clock with a 13 point lead, Carpenter was stopped for a loss by Johnny Amell and Parker Devine. With 4:49 left in the game Bartram Trail faced a 4th and 7. Gatewood stepped and threw it over the middle but the ball was knocked away by Junior Noah Carr.
Venice proved to the naysayers that they are more than just pretty good, they’re championship great.