Venice quarterback Bryce Carpenter carries the ball for a touchdown run. Carpenter had four touchdown runs in the game. Photo taken by Roy Street.

HS Football: Venice defeats Bartram Trail 37-24 to win 7A championship

On October 6, the Venice Indians got blasted IMG Academy 38-12. That moment would prove to be a turning point as the Indians would go on to win their next 10 games, the final one ending in a state championship.

Powered by QB Bryce Carpenter, Indians step on the gas

Venice came into this game ranked higher than the Bartram Trail Bears both nationally and in the state. From the start of the game, it showed. Carpenter, who had 60 total touchdowns (42 passing, 18 rushing) before the game, ran 17 yards for the first touchdown of the game. The PAT was good, making it 7-0 Venice to start the game. Bartram Trail later got a field goal from Ethan Dudley, making it 7-3 Venice.

In the second quarter, Venice answered with its own field goal from Zack Sessa to make it 10-3. Carpenter later got his second rushing touchdown of the game, this one for two yards. The PAT was good, and the Indians increased their lead to 17-3. They added to their lead again when Sessa kicked another field goal to make it 20-3 to end the first half.

Venice completely controlled the game in the first half, and a huge credit goes to its offensive line, which made key blocks and opened up big holes for Carpenter to run through.

Venice receiver Brandon Gregory carries the ball past a group of Bartram Trail defenders. Photo taken by Roy Street.

Venice continues onslaught in third quarter

In the third quarter, it was once again Carpenter who led the way. The dual-threat quarterback ran nine yards for his third rushing touchdown of the game. The PAT was good, making it 27-3 Venice. The Indians continued to pour it in when Carpenter ran four yards for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game. The PAT was good, making it 34-3 in favor of Venice. Bartram Trail finally got a touchdown later in the third quarter when quarterback Joey Gatewood connected with running back Devin Ellison for 11 yards. With the PAT being good, the Bears trailed the Indians 34-10.


Bears put on valiant effort in the fourth

In the fourth quarter, Bartram Trail flexed its muscles and showed signs of life. After Sessa kicked his third field goal to put the Indians up 37-10, the Bears scored 14 straight points. Their run got started when quarterback Riley Smith, the other quarterback that Batram Trail utilizes, threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Griffin Helm. The PAT was good, and the Bears trailed 37-17.

Bartram Trail quarterback Joey Gatewood carries the ball for a run. Photo taken by Roy Street.

Bartram Trail later added to its run when Gatewood notched a five-yard touchdown run.  The PAT was good as the Bears trailed 37-24. That would end up being the final score as the Indians held on to capture its second state championship in program history and first since 2000. Venice ended its season at 14-1 while Bartram Trail ended its season at 11-4.


Some thoughts on the game

This was Bartram Trail’s first state championship appearance in program history. The Bears deserve a lot of credit for putting up a fight when they could have easily given up after being down big for the most of the game. In the end, Venice’s desire to end its long state title drought was enough to put them on top. Both teams deserve a ton of credit for fantastic seasons.

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