In order to make it as a football player at Venice High, you must be patient.
Of course, you’ll have to have other traits as well — good work ethic, willingness to listen, strength, god-given talent, etc. — but chief among them is the ability to wait your turn while staying ready for whenever that moment may come.
Venice rising-senior quaterback Nico DallaCosta is an Indian who doesn’t take his opportunities lightly.
“I feel like I need to prove myself,” he said in a spring practice. “To myself, so that I know I can play on varsity at a high level of competition. We’re playing the defending state champs (Lakeland High) at their place. That’s a great team that has a lot of great players coming back. But I feel that we can go up there and get the win.”
With just one more year left to make his mark, DallaCosta reached out to Venice record-holder and former Mr. Football winner Bryce Carpenter to learn what it takes to lead the Indians.
“I’m trying to see what Bryce did,” DallaCosta said. “I contacted Bryce a few weeks ago. I’m trying to get together with him, see what he can show me. I’ve been in the offense for four years, and I’m trying to get my best grip on things. I think they want to use me like they used him.”
One of the main questions DallaCosta had on his mind when talking to Carpenter was: How did the four year starter stay on the field when running the ball upwards of 25 times a game?
Carpenter told him to take advantage of the ice baths, stay stretched before games, and trust the coaching staff to put him in good situations.
Staying healthy will be key for DallaCosta as he and the Indians take on a schedule that includes IMG, Vero Beach, St. Frances Academy (the No. 1 team in Maryland) and Cocoa.
He showed his knack for absorbing blows in a four-team scrimmage at North Fort Myers High School on Saturday morning — rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the three 30-minute halves against Dunbar, North Fort Myers and Riverdale.
He also finished with 234 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air (all to Weston Wolff) and didn’t turn the ball over. However, the offense stalled out at times and had trouble getting its scoring going late in the third scrimmage against Riverdale.
“You come away from today saying, ‘Nico is going to bring a special dynamic to the table this year,” Peacock said. “He was really good at times, but we went through a period there where it wasn’t so good.”
Though DallaCosta dominated most of the reps at quarterback on Saturday — and preformed well — Middleton (Tampa) transfer Gabe Weldon also took some snaps and impressed Peacock to the point that he hasn’t yet settled on a starter.
But if Peacock winds up going with DallaCosta, the soon-to-be senior has big plans for what he wants to do with the opportunity.
“I’m trying to be a leader for this team,” DallaCosta said. “I’m trying to do exactly what Bryce did. I want to get us through the playoffs and get a state championship.
“My goal is to get 65 touchdowns this year and break his record.”
Spring standoutsThe Indians dominated each of their opponents — Dunbar, North Fort Myers and Riverdale — in Saturday’s scrimmage at North Fort Myers High School, winning each 30 minute game by multiple scores.
Along with DallaCosta’s big day, several other Indians also made their case for why they’re ready for a breakout year.
Weston Wolff — Does everyone remember Jaivon Heiligh? The wide receiver who, just two years ago, set about every receiving record at Venice High as the Indians went on to win the state championship?
Well, get ready for more of the same in 2019 from Weston Wolff.
Some thought the sophomore receiver had a breakout campaign in 2018 when he finished 15th in FHSAA 7A competition with 796 receiving yards.
But judging from his play on Saturday, the best is yet to come from Wolff. The rising-junior caught 10 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns over three 15-minute periods of offensive play. He was the far and away go-to target for DallaCosta and made some highlight grabs — including a one-handed snag on the sideline where he tip-toed his feet inbounds while a defender interfered with the catch.
Steffan Johnson — Mere months removed from playing quarterback for North Port, Steffan Johnson has found himself on the other end of passing attacks this spring for Venice.
The lanky cornerback has added some well-needed depth to the Venice secondary that’s allowed Christian George to move from cornerback to safety in an attempt to shore up the loss of Noah Carr.
Johnson debuted in his first game action for Venice this past Saturday in the scrimmage at North Fort Myers, and he stood out right away — intercepting a pass against Dunbar and one against North Fort Myers.
The rising-junior also broke up another pass play and laid a brutal hit on a Riverdale player to stop him from getting a first down.