Observations of Doug Fernandes at the Spring Classic in Venice
Doug Fernandes of the Herald-Tribune participated in four hours of high school football at the Spring Classic at Venice High with teams from Venice High, Manatee High, Charlotte High and Lakeland High.
Here are his observations:
Venice QB Browne a tough runner
• Good head coaches will tailor their squads to the strengths of their players, which likely means that it remains to be seen whether the top quarterback from Venice Ryan browne will be more of a runner or pitcher in John Peacock’s attack. The former Ram made some nice shots in Friday’s Spring Classic at Powell-Davis Stadium, but really showed his strength as he ran with the ball behind Venice’s overwhelming offensive line. Venice quarterback last year Colin Blazek, more comfortable in the pocket, only attempted five points per game. When Bryce carpenter was Peacock’s quarterback, he attempted 315 passes as a senior while leading the team to the race with 273 attempts for 1,274 yards. By the start of the season, Peacock should have a better grasp of Browne’s skills.
In case you missed it:Venice goes 2-0 at the Spring Classic; Manatee 1-1 and Charlotte 0-2
Hayes from Venice can do it all
• As he did in Riverview, Browne will benefit greatly from looking his way and seeing Omari hayes aligned to wide receiver. The Ram transfer was a factor in both halves of Venice on Friday night. Against Lakeland, Hayes grabbed a single screen and did the rest, scoring on a 31-yard touchdown. Later, Browne found him for a 25-yard strike. And in Venice’s 44-0 loss to the Manatee, Hayes returned an 80-yard kickoff for a touchdown and later caught a 10-yard scoreline. Hayes can do for Venice what another ex-Ram, Malachi wideman, made his year with the team.
The pressure is on coach ‘Canes’ Green
• He was the offensive coordinator under Yusuf Shakir, but now the spotlight is on Jacquez Green as Manatee’s new head coach. As his’ Canes beat Charlotte 12-7 in the half, Green’s team were taken to the stake by Venice. These spring games give coaches a feel for what to work on, and Green certainly has his eyes on them. While the usual procedural issues need to be addressed, the former Buc needs his offensive and defensive lines to toughen up. The manatee still has a formidable attacking backfield in quarterback Jayse berzowski and running Kyree Jones, but they’re going to need help.
Tiny Tarpon will have a big role
• He’s listed at 5ft 7in and 140lbs on MaxPreps, but to the naked eye even that looks generous for Charlotte High. Troi McClary. The rising senior had his fingerprints all over the football in both Tarpons football halves. A player this size should be sneaky, and that was McClary against Lakeland and Manatee. In training against the ‘Canes, he collected 48 yards from a 15-game practice. With John busha the primary running back for the Tarpons last year, McClary threw the ball just 13 times for 65 yards. But with Busha graduating, the smaller guy on most of the Friday night fields will take on a much bigger role.
The Spring Classic format was a success
• The very first Venice High Spring Classic kicked off Friday at 6:30 pm. By the time the equivalent of two games was over, he was pushing 11:30 p.m. Still, the format, similar to the old jamboree, drew a good crowd at Powell-Davis Stadium and gave the four participating head coaches ample time to assess their players. I would expect the Spring Classic to become an annual affair, with more teams wanting than can be accommodated.