LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Coming off its first victory two weeks ago, Out-of-Door Academy entered Friday night's Class 3A-District 6 opener against visiting Fort Myers Bishop Verot with confidence.
But after the first couple series at Thunder Stadium, that confidence was quickly shattered.
Bishop Verot pounded ODA 56-0 to take a crucial step toward a playoff berth in a three-team district that also includes Cardinal Mooney. The Cougars had a bye.
The Vikings (4-1, 1-0) scored on their first two possessions, while the defense came out smothering ODA's attack. Both facets were due to the size advantage in the trenches as Verot dominated the line of scrimmage all game en route to the shutout.
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"The old adage is you win and lose the game up front, and it's evident that their guys over the summer put the time in the weight room," ODA head coach Brett Timmons said. "Bottom line is we couldn't run it, we couldn't throw it, couldn't control the line of scrimmage and they beat us up front."
Verot's defense tallied five sacks, an interception, a blocked field goal and recovered a fumble.
In addition, the Vikings held the Thunder (1-4, 0-1) to minus-44 total yards of offense.
"We fought from the beginning, our D-line was getting pressure and ... we came out fighting," said Vikings linebacker Pierce LaPrey, who had two sacks. "We had the size advantage, but we played with our heart most of all. ... We came out ready to go to get our first district win."
While ODA's offense sputtered, Verot's attack clicked.
Junior running back Jimmy Dwyer benefited from strong blocking up front, while also breaking tackles consistently as he piled up 153 rushing yards on 21 carries to go with four touchdowns in three quarters.
Verot scored 35 points in the first half and added another touchdown to begin the third quarter. Timmons accepted the running clock following that score.
Senior tight end C.J. Spiro joined Dwyer in finding pay dirt. As one of seven different receivers for the quarterback combo of Quinn Farrell and Alex McDougall, Spiro recorded three receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
"We showed flashes here and there with the light switch coming on, but we're so young still mentally football-wise that guys don't see the whole field," Timmons said. "They don't understand how everything fits and how they fit. ... You're asking kids that played middle school football last year, who are now stepping on the field as varsity players, to play against guys who've been playing for awhile. It is what it is. The speed of the game is a lot faster for a lot of these guys. And a lot of these guys have to catch up to it, and a lot of them are not physically mature enough yet to handle it, which is evident of what's being shown on the front line."
The loss puts ODA behind the eight ball in district competition. That means the Thunder's meeting at Cardinal Mooney on Oct. 18 in a must win.
"It makes the Cardinal Mooney game even that much more important, if we're trying to get to the next level," said Timmons, whose team's two first downs came off Verot penalties. "Bottom line is if we can't get penetration and protect the quarterback, it doesn't make a difference who we play. It's where you win and lose the game."