VERO BEACH — And the streak goes on for Vero Beach’s football team.
The Fighting Indians shut out Port St. Lucie 35-0 in their season opener at the Citrus Bowl on Friday night. With the win, Vero Beach extends its state-record regular-season win streak to 63 games.
Running back Bobby McMillian rushed for two touchdowns and senior quarterback Jackson Nairn threw touchdown passes to Wendell Bethel and James Smith. Vero Beach capped the scoring with a short touchdown pass from Jaheim Drisdom to LaDarian Williams late in the first half.
Port St. Lucie dropped to 0-2 with the loss.
Takeaways from Friday’s game
Nairn appears to have locked down the starting job. The Fighting Indians have had an open competition during summer workouts and preseason practices, but Nairn got the start Friday and didn’t disappoint. The former Dwyer quarterback showed good athleticism and, perhaps the biggest compliment we can give, ran the offense efficiently. Trevor O’Brien and Nehemai Cross also saw time at quarterback for multiple drives, but Nairn certainly is in the driver’s seat. It would be a surprise if he didn’t get the start for the Fighting Indians when they play at St. Lucie West Centennial next week.
Saleem Felder was a bright spot for the Jaguars. Port St. Lucie knew this would be an uphill climb, but the sophomore running back was able to pick up some tough yards against a very talented Vero Beach front seven. One of the impressive things about Felder is he only needs a little crease and he’s able to get upfield quickly. Vero Beach didn’t make it easy for the Jaguars offense, but Port St. Lucie was able to pick up a handful of first downs by having Felder run between the tackles.
Vero Beach’s defensive line collapses the pocket quickly. OK, this should be fairly obvious. Defensive ends Keanu Koht (No. 1 TCPalm Super 11, LSU commit) and Travonte O’Neal (No. 4 Super 11) were expected to make things difficult for opposing offenses and they didn’t disappoint Friday. Koht had a pair of tackles for loss against Port St. Lucie and forced Jaguars quarterback Tyler Stone to get rid of the ball quickly. Defensive lineman Brandon Neely recorded a sack and had a fumble recovery.
Port St. Lucie’s difficult start should help down the road. First off, give Jaguars coach Chris Dent a lot of credit. Despite having one of the youngest and most inexperienced rosters in the area Dent’s attitude before the season was the Jaguars would play any local team if it meant his team would be able to play a full schedule during a pandemic. Port St. Lucie opens the year with John Carroll Catholic, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce Westwood and rival St. Lucie West Centennial — four of the top five teams on TCPalm’s power rankings. It’s not ideal for Port St. Lucie, but this team is testing itself against the area’s best and the experience should pay dividends as the season goes along.
More from Friday night: John Carroll Catholic pitches second straight shutout