A closer look at Venice

One of the better football teams in the state comes out of the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World" -- Venice. Venice High School was District 11- 5A champions in 2007, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to Cape Coral and ended the season 7-4. This season they repeated as district champs and are looking to go deep in the playoffs.

Trey Burton(6'3, 220- jr) committed to UF this past summer. As a sophomore he flashed all the tools at QB, and has been nothing short of spectacular as a junior. His arm is strong, he is throwing in rhythm, and managing the game at a collegiate level. He buys a lot of time with his feet. As a runner, he is physical with the ability to be shifty in space. The accuracy is there to complete all the throws. Burton is very difficult for teams to match up with.

Taking most of the carries is Dri Archer(5'6, 155- sr). Archer is known as 'lightning' for good reason. He possesses major league burst and deep speed. Despite his size, he runs tough through the hole and has an air of confidence about him that makes him special. He's convinced no one can check him: "I haven't been stopped yet," Archer said. Burton added, "... hand it off to him and watch, it is ridiculous what he can do." Archer is also a threat out of the backfield and in the slot catching the ball. Rashad Mcrae(5'8, 162- jr) is a second option.

The team connection is one of its benefits. TE Beckett Wales(6'3, 217-jr) explained, "Catching passes from Trey is great because I've worked with him so long and he is so consistent. I know where he is going to throw the ball, how he is going to throw it, and I know what I'm going to do with it."

Venice rotates in a number of players at WR: Robert Fordham, Josh Boyle, and Justin Grant lead the way. Wales is a great looking TE prospect with soft hands and natural size.

"We have a real strong offensive line, with two big tackles and a strong core that is probably our strength," said Burton. This line is very good at opening up creases for Archer or Burton to shoot through and they seal off the edge as good as anyone. Mike Lopez(6'5, 297-sr) and Joe Barone(6'0, 251-sr) are the tackles. The interior is very strong with center Brian O'Leary(6'1, 264- jr) and guards Kyle Gilbert(6'1, 262- sr) and Billy Howe(6'0, 210- sr). They possess some depth with senior T Billy Nagle(6'5, 302-sr).

Senior LB Ethan Mix broke down the defense: "We got a lot of big guys up front, we have a speed defense, our coaches do a great job with scouting reports in the film room, and we swarm to the ball."

Clay Burton(6'3, 225- soph) and Brandon Wilkinson(6'4, 190- jr) are the starting DE's and both can double as TE's on offense. They get up the field and apply pressure. Gerald Oriol (6'2, 250- sr) has been bothered by injury, but saw some action vs. Manatee and should work his way back into starting form. James Auxier(6'2, 265, sr) and Ben Steele (6'5, 245- sr) are the tackles and are very physical against the run. Oriol can play inside as well.

Ethan Mix(5'10, 185, sr) heads a ball hawking LB unit. Mix is one of those players who is always around the ball. Jamie Owen(6'1, 197- sr) shows good instincts and is a run stuffer. Kyle Rodgers(5'10, 175- soph) can cover WR's and is an asset against the passing game.

Venice can rotate in a number of CB's. Robert Fordham(6'2, 167- sr) is a player to keep an eye on. This rising senior has great speed and gets better every week. Josh Boyle(5'9, 150- soph) is an athlete on the other side. Justin Grant(6'1, 189- jr) can provide a physical presence at safety with great range. Grant knows how to defend, and detailed his role in the defense: " I like to fill the lanes. I learned from Trey who played S as a freshmen. I like to come up and hit."

As a program, Venice is undefeated this year. The freshmen team finished 8-0 and JV 7-0. Varsity is 8-0 and go to North Port on Friday, then end with a test at Sarasota Booker. This is a team that mixes high-end talent with a host of great football players and is going to be a very difficult team to send home in the playoffs. Burton and Archer are difficult to stop for four quarters and are threats to score every time they touch it.

The sky is limit for this team.

Individual stats through 8 games


Trey Burton 70/111, 1304, 12/2


Dri Archer 132-1241, 13 td

Trey Burton 110-717, 18 td


Dri Archer 18-385, 5 td

Beckett Wales 13-148, 2 td

Robert Fordham 10-239, 1 td

Josh Boyle 9-182, 2 td

Justin Grant 7-202, 2 td


Ethan Mix 52

Ben Steele 46

Jamie Owen 41


Brandon Wilkinson 8


Kyle Rodgers 3

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