VERO BEACH – New Smyrna Beach comes to the Citrus Bowl to take on Vero Beach Friday night at 7 p.m. It will be the first time the Fighting Indians will square off against another school in a spring scrimmage in several years.
First-year head coach Lenny Jankowski inherited a Vero Beach team this year, which lost its leading passer, rusher, receiver, and top seven tacklers from a year ago.
He’s installed a spread offense this spring, which replaces the run-heavy Wing-T offense employed by former coach Gary Coggin.
Vero Beach only attempted 90 passes in 2010, but that number could easily triple in 2011. To do that, Jankowski will need to decide on a quarterback to guide his up-tempo, passing offense.
Eight different quarterbacks threw passes during the Red and White game last week, but according to the coach, this week’s contest against the Barracudas will be different.
“We’ve had two guys really step up at quarterback in E.J. Pryor and Dalton Stokes,” Jankowski said. “They’ve impressed me the most this spring, and looking back on how far they’ve come, I don’t have words. Either one of them had any real experience at the position before this spring, and they were two wild cards who have definitely come to the forefront at quarterback.”
“E.J. was playing running back last year, and Dalton was third or fourth-string quarterback as a freshman on junior varsity last year,” Jankowski added. “Not to take anything away from any of my other quarterbacks – because they’ve done exactly what I’ve asked of them – but I’m pleased with the way those two have progressed. They have separated themselves, and will get the bulk of the snaps on Friday night.”
The defense, which replaces seven starters this year, features rising senior defensive end Dwayne Hoilett. He received his 20th scholarship offer Wednesday when Michigan State offered him at practice. They join Illiniois, Purdue, Rutgers, UConn and others as schools who are competing for the three-star (Scout.com) college prospect’s services.
Jankowski knows his defense is going to have to play well to compete with New Smyrna Beach coach Lance Jenkins’ offense.
“Coach Jenkins is a nightmare to prepare for,” Jankowski said. “He’s a tricky play-caller, who runs multiple offensive sets, and runs them very well.”
The Barracudas were 7-5 last year, and lost to Palm Bay in the second round of the FHSAA 4A playoffs a year ago, 27-14. Vero Beach also lost to Palm Bay, but by a score of 28-0. New Smyrna Beach lost the vast majority of their offensive skill players and defensive players to graduation, including their top two quarterbacks.
“I think everyone in Vero is looking forward to a game against a team which isn’t wearing a Fighting Indian uniform,” Jankowski said. “Some of the mistakes we made in the Red and White Game will hopefully be corrected against New Smyrna Beach, and we’ll put a good product out onto the field. The game is a nice way to end the spring.”