By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 25, 2015) — For the fourth straight year, Stephenville is opening its football schedule against a school from outside Texas.
Stephenville (0-0) welcomes Venice (Fla.) (0-1) to Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Venice, which has approximately 2,050 students in its high school, is visiting Texas for the second time in three years after defeating Plano East, 35-21, in 2013.
Venice head coach John Peacock says the folks in Plano treated his club so well he couldn’t wait to come back to Texas.
“We had a great experience last time we were in the Dallas area. Plano East treated us really well and the kids enjoyed it,” Peacock said in a Monday evening phone interview. “It’s something the kids get a lifetime of memories out of.”
Peacock has made out of state trips before with his team, also visiting Virginia since he became head coach in 2007. Venice is 73-21 with Peacock as head coach and 125-60 since he joined the staff in 1999.
Peacock makes football as part of the culture of Venice, a suburb of Sarasota (Fla.), sound a lot like the relationship between the sport and culture in suburban Texas communities, or even Stephenville.
“I’d say it’s pretty big here. We’re in a small town that is a suburb of a larger city. We’re in Sarasota County and there are six big high schools then there is us kind of on an island by ourselves,” he said. “It has a hometown feel, and we get good crowds and a lot of support from our community. There is a lot of tradition here. Coach Jim Powell was here 28 years (1962-89) and had a great tenure. We’ve won a state championship and we’ve had a couple former players go on to the NFL. Overall, I’d say we have a pretty good tradition here.”
The current Venice Indians (0-1) have already been in a game, losing last Friday, 31-21, to Plant High School in Tampa (Fla.), a national powerhouse that in 2010 began the season ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals.
“We had a tough game Friday and just started looking at Stephenville film on Saturday,” Peacock said. “It’s kind of hard to tell exactly how good or bad a team is when you have no knowledge of their opponents or anything. It’s kind of tough to gauge. From the little we do know, we’re expecting to play a really good football team.”
Peacock says his team is bringing with it to Texas a multitude of formations and packages for Stephenville to prepare for.
“We’re multiple for sure. We like the spread, then we’ll get in the I-formation and heavy packages,” he said. “We’re all over the place to be honest. We may be spread empty (only the quarterback in the backfield) one snap and on the next we may have four tight ends.”
That makes Venice vastly different from the ground and pound teams from Monterrey Tech (Mexico), which Stephenville hosted in 2012 and 2013, and South Anchorage (Alaska), which the Yellow Jackets routed in their opener last year.
Peacock says 70 people are making the trip from Venice to Stephenville, including 48 players and 22 coaches and support staff.
“We have a great group coming, everyone’s excited and we can’t wait to make some more great memories in Texas,” Pacock said. “Hopefully everyone there is as excited as we are and we’ll have a good crowd and enjoy some good Friday night football.”