The Venice High football team still has at least one more game to play, but aside from the Indians, the fall sports season is over in our area.
Athletes and teams from each school in our coverage area — from Venice, North Port, Lemon Bay, Port Charlotte, Charlotte and DeSoto County high schools — impressed in football, volleyball, cross country, swimming and golf.
Competitors in each sport made it as far as the regional playoffs while posting some individual and school bests along the way.
Here are the moments and accomplishments that stuck out to the Sun Preps sports team:
Venice football plays for regional championship
This moment hasn’t happened yet, but the Venice football team playing for a regional championship will undoubtedly be one of the biggest games of the year.
The Indians (11-1) are hosting the West Orange Warriors (11-1), who are ranked as a top-10 team in the state and feature several players with high-caliber offers, including star receiver and Florida commit Jayden Gibson.
Venice vs. West Orange will take place at Powell-Davis Stadium this Friday night at 7:30.
Mantas football goes undefeated
The Lemon Bay football team had a historic season as it became the first group in school history to finish the regular season without a loss — winning nine games and entering the playoffs as the second-seeded team in their region.
The Manta Rays first-string defense allowed just one touchdown all season while the offense — led by quarterback Trey Rutan, running backs Jason Hogan, Jake Sekach and Landon Spanninger and receivers Aaron Pasick and Daylan Craft — routinely put up 30-or-more points in several wins that finished with a running clock.
Venice volleyball wins 20th straight district title
The Lady Indians have been dominating the volleyball court for two decades now under coach Brian Wheatley, and that didn’t change this season.
A young squad led by seniors Ireland Ferguson and Paden Keller won over 20 games as they crushed local competition all the way until the regional championship.
Tarpons football holds on over Pirates
It’s always a can’t-miss game when Charlotte and Port Charlotte play football, even if this year’s matchup was the earliest it’s ever been — pushed up all the way to Week 2.
Despite the lack of practice time and preparation, the two teams battled it out in another typical slugfest.
Charlotte running back Troi McClary scored the go-ahead touchdown late and safety Brayan Augustin followed up with an interception that sealed the 17-10 Tarpons win.
Lemon Bay volleyball makes history
It wasn’t just the Mantas football team that had a historic season.
The volleyball team was undefeated for much of the year before running into Venice in a battle of the area’s top teams.
The Lady Mantas finished 26-3 and made it all the way to the regional final led by standout performances from a deep group led by Gabriela Crespo, Presley Engelauf, Ocean Roth, Taylor Orris and Kendall Steinert, among others.
Belser proposes, Bobcats win Homecoming game
This year was a season of new beginnings in more ways than one for North Port first-year head football coach Garon Belser.
The former Bobcats player accepted his first-ever head coaching position this past summer and also officially started his family this fall — proposing to Shelby Godwin after a 31-16 Homecoming win over Bayshore.
Wadsworth wins district and region
There may have been no area athlete as dominant as Tyler Wadsworth was in cross country this year.
The Pirates senior routinely had the best times in the area — breaking 16 minutes several times — as he went on to place first individually at both his district and regional meets.
He took seventh-place at the 2A state championships to end the season as the area’s top finisher.
Adams, Lainhart go to state golf
Golf is typically one of the toughest sports in Florida, and that was the case again this season.
Still, two area golfers made it all the way to the state tournament.
Jackson Adams, of Venice, shot a 76 at his regional tournament and Eddie Lainhart, of Port Charlotte, shot a 79 at his regional tournament — qualifying both to advance to Howey-In-The-Hills as individual competitors.
Indians and Tarpons compete at state swim
Both Venice and Charlotte had another year of top-notch performances in the pool as each had representatives at the state championships.
The Indians boys team led by Amadeusz Knop took second overall in 4A while their girls team, led by Maeve Eckerman, took ninth. The Charlotte boys team, featuring Charlie Plaisted and James Rose, finished seventh in 2A.
Athletes honor commitments on Signing Day
Nearly two dozen area athletes signed their National Letters of Intent this fall to compete in several sports including swimming, running, volleyball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, basketball and soccer.