VERO BEACH – Vero Beach High School played its annual Red and White Game at the Citrus bowl Friday, the first of two spring football events for the Fighting Indians.
Over 100 varsity and junior varsity players participated in the scrimmage, and an estimated 1,200 fans took advantage of the free admission. “I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but I think the game was a huge success,” said Fighting Indians Football Boosters president Dave Morby. “I was speaking to the Vanderbilt scout who was looking at some of our players, and he turned around and said, ‘Wow Mr. Morby, you’ve got something special here-this is a practice, and look at the turnout.’ I told him to wait until next week when we’re playing a real game against a real team.”
The FIFB held a fundraiser barbeque, which was available throughout the game. They also manned their merchandise stand and sold memberships to their organization to generate funding for the coming football season.
“I would like to thank the players, the coaching staff, and all off the volunteers who helped us put this together tonight,” Morby said. “The boys all played well tonight, and we got to see a new brand of football.”
Vero Beach’s new spread offense was unveiled to the public at the scrimmage, which was a drastic change from the Wing-T offense run by the Fighting Indians over the past five seasons.
“It’s really different, but I love it,” said Vero Beach wide receiver Rakeem Marcelle. “It has really given me a lot of opportunities to catch the ball. A lot of our offensive players are going both ways, and we’re going to see how it goes against New Smyrna. There are a lot of people here tonight for just a spring game, it is really amazing.”
Many former Vero Beach players who have since moved on to play college football were in attendance, including T.J. Dupuis of Florida Atlantic University, Shawn O’Dare of the Miami Hurricanes, Ryan Valdez of Florida International University, and Marcus Jackson of University of Tennessee.
“It looks like a young team to me, but the new offense looks decent,” O’Dare said. “Your defense is always going to be ahead of your offense in the summer, and with a new offense, the learning curve is going to be slower. They still have a lot of quarterbacks competing for the starting spot, so it looks like they haven’t cut down much. They’ll need to sort that out soon.”
Seven different quarterbacks took turns guiding the new offense during the scrimmage, the most anyone has seen at Vero Beach during a spring game.
“I think slowly but surely, we’re starting to identify the playmakers on both sides of the ball,” said Vero Beach High School head football coach Lenny Jankowski. “To be able to evaluate a game-like film, with officials out here and keeping a clock really helps us prepare for next week. We can do all the things on the practice field that we want, but there’s something about playing over here in the Citrus Bowl. I’m pleased with where we’re at as a team.”