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VENICE, FL – There wasn’t many dominant state championship wins like the Venice Indians had in the Class 8A state title game against Apopka last season.

The Indians ended up running away with the state title in a 35-7 rout of the Blue Darters, capping off one of the best football seasons in Venice history. The school locking in their third state title in program history was a great feat, but don’t think the Indians are sitting on their laurels here.

Venice is thinking back-to-back state crowns for what would be unbelievably the first time in the program’s history, but the Indians will have to get through a regular season slate of games like none other. The Indians will kickoff the preseason with a classic at home versus IMG Academy's national team before getting into the regular season.

Then the Indians will open up the season with a home game against Miami Northwestern, who lost to Jesuit in the Class 6A state semifinals, before going three more home games in a row versus Naples, St. Frances Academy (MD) and Sanford Seminole, before hitting the road against county rival Sarasota Riverview.

The team has to replace several starters on offense and one of those holes that must be filled is by quarterback Ryan Browne, who has transferred to Milford Academy. Gaither transfer Brooks Bentley has come to the program with high expectations after throwing for 1,893 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Cowboys in 2021.

With Bentley now under center for the Indians, it gives Venice a proven starter to replace Browne, who threw 26 touchdowns last season. In the spring game against Lakeland, Bentley ended up throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-24 loss. Bentley’s top receiver looks to be Keyon Sears, who had six catches for 110 yards and two scores.

Venice defensive end Damon Wilson is the team’s top defensive player back on the roster, after recording 90 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and notching 15 sacks. Wilson currently has college offers from Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Arizona and Auburn to name a few.

The Indians also have back on defense cornerback Elliott Washington, who has already committed to play for Alabama, making 58 tackles and picking off four passes in 2021. With so many pieces back in the mix, it’s hard to ignore that Venice will be contending for another state championship come December.

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.