A huge sign greets football players at Bishop Verot every time they head for the field.
It's a Latin phrase: "Non excidet."
The phrase has several nuances in translation. Coach Phil Dorn said it means, "He will never give up," referring to Jesus' concern for us.
When he came to Verot seven years ago, the phrase was the school's motto, and Dorn adopted it for his football team. Now the entire athletic department uses it. To the players it means, "a Viking will never give up or fail."
Football is popular at Verot. From a student body of 660, 110 young men in grades 9-12 tried out for football this fall.
One impression comes across clearly for Dorn. He knows his players well. When asked about key players, he was able to rattle off and spell all of his first-team starters on both offense and defense without looking at any notes.
Besides knowing his players, Dorn was quick to point to the team's goals for this season, one which the entire team has bought into.
"We have had four straight winning seasons," said Dorn. "Our kids have a goal to have a fifth winning season. If we accomplish this, it would be one of the first stretches of five consecutive winning seasons in school history."
Three key players were lost to graduation-quarterback Jake Kistel, linebacker Jon Alvarez, and wide receiver Matt Brewer. Kistel and Alvarez have gone on to college football.
The biggest challenge is to fill the shoes of Kistel at quarterback. Four candidates are vying for the starting job. Dorn said they all had a good chance at winning it, but wasn't leaning toward any one of them just yet.
Seniors Buck Fortier and Danny Foy are battling sophomore Evan Dougherty and freshman Quinn Farrell.
Other offensive skill players include senior runningback D.J. Judge, and receiver Austin Brady.
With the loss of Alvarez, the Vikings must find a replacement at linebacker, one who isn't afraid to be in the action. Alvarez led the team in tackles two years in a row. One player Dorn is high on is Paul Cecere at middle linebacker.
"He's an outstanding kid, whose name will be called a lot this year," Dorn said.
Complementing Cecere are Troy Thompson and Alex Bass.
Dorn is excited about his offensive line. Five returning seniors-four who started last year-will anchor the line. They include center John Anthony, guards Alex Staehie and Richie Skerrett, and tackles Cody Cole and Will Seaman. Those five along with returning tight end Bair Diamond make for a formidable front for the Vikings.
"Our O-line is a solid foundation for what we want to do," said Dorn.
More important than individual players is an emphasis on team development.
"We're not as experienced at quarterback and the offensive skill positions, but we have an excellent team attitude and work ethic," Dorn said. "Our concern is always how the team is doing. Spirit is important."
Verot just won the state baseball championship this spring.
"People overlook us in football," said Dorn, "but we've been competitive locally."
With a strong group of returning players, Dorn hopes that trend continues this season.
"We have a great group of kids," he added. "We're excited about how hard they're working and the schedule. We probably will be the darkhorse in our district this year."
Verot moves from Class 3A to District 6A-11 this year. The redistricting puts them in a league with Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, South Fort Myers, Island Coast, Ida Baker and Riverdale.
Of those teams, South Fort Myers has been strong in recent years and two-time district champion Island Coast is coming in from Class 2B after going to the regional finals last year.
The Vikings open the campaign at home on Sept. 2 against Mariner.
Bishop Verot Vikings
Sept. 2 - vs. Mariner
Sept. 9 - at Cardinal Mooney
Sept. 16 - at Naples
Sept. 23 - at South Fort Myers-x
Sept. 30 - vs. Riverdale-x
Oct. 6 - at Ida Baker-x
Oct. 14 - vs. Island Coast-x
Oct. 28 - vs. North Fort Myers-x
Nov. 4 - at Fort Myers-x
Nov. 11 - vs. Estero
Head Coach: Phil Dorn, 7th season (29-31).
Assistants: Lenarick Thomas (assistant head coach), Rich Maresco (def. coord.), Rod Williams (def. line), Keith Williams (RB), Dale Cole (off. line), Butch Moore, WR), Jay Michael (QB), Eric Ladwig (WR), Matt Burback (def. coord.), Natasha Johnson (ath. trainer).
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.
Home: 3-2 Away: 3-2 District: 1-4
Verot 41, Evangelical Christian 16
Verot 37, Lemon Bay 7
Verot 43, LaBelle 7
South Fort Myers 35, Verot 3
Verot 38, Cardinal Mooney 14
Mariner 24, Verot 20
Riverdale 13, Verot 10
Verot 25, North Fort Myers 7
Fort Myers 10, Verot 3
Verot 31, Westminster Christian 21