High school football is a way of life for many in Southwest Florida. That life enthusiastically continues with the return of Bill Shields as the head football coach at Bishop Verot High School.
Shields is not new to Verot since he was a coach from 1987-91. In those five years, he posted a record of 38-18 (.678 pct.). In 1990-91, he led the Vikings to the district championships.
Upon leaving Verot in 1991, Shields went on to become the head football coach at Jacksonville Orange Park, Duluth High in Georgia and at Titusville Astronaut, where he compiled a 41-14 record in 1992-97. He also coached Brookwood's boys track and field for six seasons, leading the Broncos to the state championship. Shields took a short break after Brookwood, but it wasn't long before he found his way back to his roots - football.
Bishop Verot senior quarterback Quinn Farrell hands off to freshman William Scott at practice earlier this week. The Vikings, who played their preseason game at North Broward Prep last night, open the regular season on Aug. 29 on their home turf against Fort Myers.
"Pretty exciting to be back," said Shields. "Not many people get to start their career off somewhere and then end up back there."
Even though Shields is a seasoned veteran, he is still bound to have a few new tricks up his sleeve, like an up-tempo offense.
Shields says not much has changed in the game during the years he has been away.
Aug. 21 - at North Broward Prep, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 - vs. Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 - vs. Lemon Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 - at Doral Academy, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 - at LaBelle, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 - vs. Out-of-Door, 7:30 p.m.-x
Oct. 10 - vs. Clewiston, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 - at St. Pete Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 - at Lake Placid, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 - at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.-x
Nov. 7 - vs. North Fort Myers, 7:30 p.m.
Head Coach: Bill Shields ('14), 1st year
Assistants: Derker Bachman (RB), Doug Chase (DB), Dale Cole (OL), John Nolan (LB), Jay Michael (WR), Rod Williams (DL), Josh Vogelbach (QB).
Team Colors: Black & Gold
Stadium: Viking Stadium, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers
Playoff History: 1990 - Verot 30, Pine Crest 7; Verot 34, Frostproof 33 (Regionals); Bolles 17, Verot 14 (2A Championship); 1991 - Verot 34, Pine Crest 6; Frostproof 7, Verot 6 (Regional); 1994 - Verot 20, Ransom Everglades 10; Verot 22, Frostproof 6; Verot 30, LaBelle 6 (Regionals); Union County 21, Verot 0 (3A Championship); 1997 - Avon Park 46, Verot 14; 1998 - Verot 21, Lake Placid 13; Tampa Catholic 17, Verot 14; 2000 - Clearwater Central Catholic 49, Verot 42; 2001 - Verot 45, Clearwater Central Catholic 0; Verot 20, Avon Park 6; Clewiston 49, Verot 17; 2002 - Verot 68, St. Pete Catholic 13; Clewiston 30, Verot 27 OT. 2007 - Clewiston 26, Verot 13. 2013 - Clearwater Central Catholic 47, Verot 0
Home: 4-1 Away 2-3 Dist: 1-1
Fort Myers 58, Verot 7
at Lemon Bay, ccd.
Verot 41, North Borward Prep 30
Verot 45, Doral Academy 14
Verot 21, LaBelle 20
x-Verot 56, Out-of-Door Academy 0
Clewiston 62, Verot 17
Verot 45, Lake Placid 34
x-Cardinal Mooney 35, Verot 10
Verot 10, North Fort Myers 0
Clearwater Central Catholic 47, Verot 0
"It's still about blocking and tackling," he said.
Shields did switch up the offensive strategy, implementing a spread offense. He brings his own philosophy to the game.
"Hustle, enthusiasm and style are a few key factors needed to be a football player," said Shields. "Don't get by, get better" is his motto.
Shields named a few standout players that show great promise for the upcoming season, like senior wide receiver and defensive back Weston Cole, who comes in with a soccer background, and linebacker Tommy Dean, plus returning senior and starting quarterback Quinn Farrell.
"I'm excited about the year," said Shields. "For our opening game we are lined up against Fort Myers High. It will be interesting to see how we handle it. They've got a good team this year."
Fort Myers is one of the oldest high school football programs in the state. The Green Wave are entering their 95th campaign. Currently the Green Wave rank No. 4 in state history, having won a total of 625 games.
Shields holds special ties to the Greenies program due to his close relationship with late head coach Sam Sirianni.
"He was a very special person. He really took me into the program and made me feel welcome," said Shields.
The Vikings, who played at North Broward Prep Thursday night in a preseason scrimmage, kick off the regular season against their chief rivals at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Vikings Stadium.