VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach Fighting Indians will hold their annual Red and White intrasquad game tonight starting at 7 p.m., featuring Principal Eric Seymour coaching the Red squad, and Assistant Principal Greg Ahrens coaching the White.
Going into his fifth year as head coach at Vero Beach High School, Gary Coggin said wanted to give the fans and his team a taste of fall. “I wanted to make this special for everyone,” said Coggin. “The band and cheerleaders are going to be there, along with television and radio coverage. Even though (the team) is not going to be super polished, we want to but on a good show for the 12th Man.”
Coggin will be in the broadcast booth with Gary Parris and Paul Tipton providing insight for the fans on his Fighting Indian players. “The two coaches have been trash-talking one another all week,” said Coggin. “I think everyone is going to have some fun at this game.”
Many high schools in the state play spring games, but most of them play against other high schools. Coggin favors the inter-squad format for a multitude of reasons, with safety at the front of that list. “Spring football gives us a chance to evaluate the talent and commitment level of our players,” said Coggin. “Kids aren’t in ideal game condition during this time of the year. The last thing we want to do is get our team all banged up against another school at this point in during the pre-season.”
“This format really gives the coaches as chance to evaluate our personnel,” added Coggin. “Instead of having to rotate offense and defense with an opponent, it’s our players out there on the field for every snap on both sides of the ball.”
The Fighting Indians are led by seniors at key positions. Under-Armour All-American offensive lineman Marcus Jackson will pave the way for last year’s leading rushers, running backs Jormonte Hunter and Antone Taylor. Todd Fennell takes over as the team’s full-time quarterback this year, and comes into spring rated the No. 5-rated punter in the country (according to Kohl’s Professional Kicking Camps). Leading receiver Joe Garafalo is also back, giving Fennell a quality target to throw to.
The team is also blessed to have several impact players returning for their senior year on defense. Leading tacklers Dion Holmes and Larry Franklin will play linebacker and safety respectively, and are joined by leading pass rushers David Dixson and Cody Horstman on the defensive line.
Admission to the Red and White game is free of charge, and according to Coggin, food and beverages will be available.