High School Football

Prep commentary | Palmetto head coach Dave Marino goes against nephew, the QB at Riverview


Watch Dave Marino closely tonight at the Ram Bowl.

See if he winces a bit whenever a Palmetto linebacker puts a hit on the opposing quarterback. See if he takes a little more interest than usual if Riverview's man under center takes a second or two to get back on his feet.

After all, it's not every day you get take a shot at the kid who served as the ring bearer in your wedding.

The kid is Marino's nephew, Dominic. And tonight he'll try and lead the Rams past the Palmetto Tigers and their head coach, Uncle Dave.

"He's a great kid, he's committed," Dave said. "He's done the right things."

Dave Marino remembers when Dominic, now a junior, was a ballboy while Dave and Dominic's father, Bill, were coaching at Lakewood Ranch.

The dream was that one day Dominic would be the Mustangs quarterback and Dave would be his offensive coordinator, the nephew executing whatever his uncle drew up on a dry-erase board.

Sell this draw play. Your Christmas present is riding on it.

"That changed," Dave said.

Dave and Bill were on Paul Maechtle's staff when Southeast won back-to-back state championships in 1993-94, a stint that earned the brothers more than just some championship rings.

While they were coaching at Southeast, Dominic was born.

"He was born a Seminole," Dave said.

Now he's a Ram, trying to lead Riverview forward as they begin their second season under coach Todd Johnson. Dominic accounted for three touchdowns last week in a Kickoff Classic win over St. Petersburg.

And Dave is a Tiger. He breathed life back into the Palmetto program last year when he guided it to the Class 5A state final four, the furthest the Tigers had advanced since 1986.

The plans have changed. But it appears they have changed for the better for the uncle and his nephew.

Tonight they'll meet on the same field, though after last week's loss at Venice in a Kickoff Classic, Dave is more concerned with the guys on his side than the ones on the other side.

"We lost last week," Dave said. "We're hungry, and (Dominic) knows that, and I told him that. I wished him luck, but I told him, 'We're coming to get you. We're coming after you.' And he knows. He knows it's important for us to get a win."

Tonight's winner is 1-0.

And as for the loser, hey, there's always Thanksgiving.

John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2097. Follow John Lembo on Twitter @JohnLembo1878.