The fall sports season is scheduled to start on time this year for local high schools and mere days remain before it begins.
Team practice opens for the fall sports — football, volleyball, golf, cross country and swimming and diving — on Aug. 2 and students return to campus on Aug. 10.
One week later, the preseason begins as each squad begins to see who they will be this year.
Last year at Venice High, the fall sports season was a bit delayed but offered plenty of standout performances, like transfer quarterback Colin Blazek leading the football team deep into the playoffs, the volleyball team reaching the regional final and several swimmers and runners competing in regional and state competitions.
At the end of the school-year, the girls soccer team was the only group to win a state championship — defeating Lourdes Academy on penalty kicks a year after losing to them in the title game.
It’s too difficult to guess who the surprise standouts or just how far each team will advance this year, but here are five Indians athletes you can count on to impress:
Amadeusz Knop (Boys Swim, junior)
Knop placed in the top five in three events — the 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke, and the 400m freestyle relay team — at the 4A state meet as a sophomore last year.
If that weren’t enough the 16-year-old also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200m backstroke this summer.
Expect more headlines from Knop this year.
Damon Wilson (Football, junior)
Wilson first joined the varsity team at the end of his freshman season as a late-year call-up, and it was quickly apparent that he belonged.
The now-junior has since become one of the team’s premier defenders (79 tackles and six sacks in 2020) and has received offers from top college football programs such as Alabama, Florida and Clemson.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end should be a matchup nightmare for many offensive tackles this season.
Elliot Washington (Football, junior)
It’s tough to find playing time at Venice as an underclassman, but Washington was an impact player since the start of his freshman year.
He’s played safety, cornerback and in the return game and could be asked to do a little of everything this year as the only returner in the Indians’ secondary.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior recorded two interceptions and four passes defended last year, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him improve on those numbers in 2021.
Like Wilson, Washington has been offered by several top programs including Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Georgia.
Kiki Montgomery and Paden Keller (Volleyball, seniors)
Venice has been at its strongest when Montgomery and/or Keller get hot.
The two middle blockers have sparked the Lady Indians to the state semifinals and regional final in the past two seasons.
Last year, the 6-foot-2 Montgomery led the team in both kills (179) and blocks (39), but the 5-foot-11 Keller wasn’t far behind with 174 kills and 36 blocks.
With another year of experience under their belts, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Venice win its 20th straight district championship.