Vero Beach claims fourth straight District 8-8A title with win over Fort Pierce Central

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Vero Beach defeated Fort Pierce Central, 42-7, to clinch its fourth consecutive district title.
JON SANTUCCI/TCPALM

FORT PIERCE — After his three-touchdown performance against Fort Pierce Central High School on Friday, Vero Beach junior wide receiver Demarcus Harris perfectly summed up the Fighting Indians’ passing attack.

“I don’t think our passing game is totally complete, but it’s getting there,” Harris said.

Vero Beach quarterback Nick Celidonio completed 15 of 23 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns as the Fighting Indians beat Central 42-0 at Lawnwood Stadium.

Vero Beach (8-0, 3-0) clinched its fourth consecutive District 8-8A championship and extended its regular season win streak to 41 games.

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Vero Beach defeated Fort Pierce Central, 42-7, to clinch its 4th consecutive district title on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
JON SANTUCCI/TCPALM

Spearheading the effort were Celidonio and Harris.

The duo connected five times for 160 yards, including touchdowns of 56, 35 and 46 yards. The final two touchdown passes, on back-to-back drives to start the fourth quarter, helped Vero Beach pull away from a tenacious Central squad.

“Our run game picked up in the second half,” Celidonio said. “We had a couple play action passes and we went deep on them.”

But it’s more than just this game.

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Vero Beach defeated Fort Pierce Central, 42-7, to clinch its fourth consecutive district title on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
JON SANTUCCI/TCPALM

Over the past few weeks, Celidonio has looked considerably more commanding Vero Beach’s potent offense.

Since throwing two interceptions in the first half against Treasure Coast on Oct. 13, Celidionio has completed 74 percent of his passes (34-of-46) for 603 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“I feel very confident throwing the ball,” Celidonio said. “I can just see the field and see what’s open. What’s different is me just trusting my line. I trust them a lot more. It’s just trust.”

Vero Beach coach Lenny Jankowski said Celidonio, who transferred from John Carroll Catholic in the spring, has “all the qualities you look for in a quarterback.”

“Nick has worked his tail off and I think he’s improved in every phase, starting with his fundamentals and his mechanics,” Jankowski said. “When your fundamentals are sound and mechanically you’re doing things right, you’re going to become more accurate — and he’s got good guys to throw to.”

Vero Beach and Central (2-5, 1-2) each scored on their opening drives. The Fighting Indians took a 14-7 lead into the half after Celidonio threw a strike to Harris, who proceeded to drag a Central defensive back the final 6 yards into the end zone for a 56-yard play.

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Vero Beach High School’s football team defeated Fort Pierce Central High School, 42-7, to clinch its fourth consecutive district title.
JON SANTUCCI/TCPALM

Central senior running back Zach Stone, who had 25 carries for 113 yards, was the focal point of the Cobras’ offense in the first half, but Vero Beach held him to 33 yards in the second half.

Slowing the run game allowed Vero Beach to get good field position in the second half, and the Fighting Indians capitalized on their chances.

“Our kids fought hard,” Central coach Brad Paulson said. “We ran out of gas in the second half. We did a poor job on offense of moving the football and gave up some good field position. We didn’t get it done.”

Vero Beach has shown the ability the past few weeks to put teams away with the passing game. Early in the season, running back Akeem Dixon was the workhorse, and the offense’s fortunes hinged on him and the offensive line.

Now, the Fighting Indians appear to be a more complete team, which is exactly what Jankowski is hoping for.

“We should be better in all phases now than we were in the beginning of the season, and we are,” he said. “It’s going in the direction we’d like it to go.”


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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/high-school/football/2017/10/27/vero-beach-claims-fourth-straight-district-8-8-a-title-win-over-fort-pierce-central/800230001/

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