Countdown To Kickoff: Vanguard Knights

Vanguard looks to make deeper postseason run as Suburban school
Knights open vs GHS on Aug. 26
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) -Ocala’s dominant public school has a history of turning out FBS-level talent, and has won 27 of its last 30 games against Marion County opponents. But the Vanguard Knights still have an axe to grind.

“It’s the same formula basically, you put in the work, and give max effort every single play,” said senior running back Javarien Salter. “And just finish, because we had a great year, we just didn’t cap it off.”

For all that success, Vanguard has made it to six consecutive region title games and lost them all. The 2022 Knights might be anonymous enough to be playing in a full shield, but that’s all right with them.

“Not many people are aware of the classes we have in 2023 and 24,” said senior center Lanford Slaughter. “I’m excited to be part of the class that proves that class has a lot to offer.”

One player to watch is junior Fred Gaskin. The two-way starter is back for the Knights after passing for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall. Gaskin is also a highly recruited safety with offers from multiple SEC schools. The Knights’ top returning receiver is Joshua Rembert, who believes the team’s biggest obstacle is within.

“I feel that’s what we lack right now, discipline,” said Rembert. “So when we get the discipline and stuff in order, we’re going to be great.”

“Honestly I want to get to the playoffs, I want to succeed in the playoffs, and make it to the state championship,” said senior defensive end Riley Smith.

This year, Vanguard won’t have Orlando-based Jones standing in the way of a playoff run. It was the Fightin’ Tigers who ended the Knights’ season a year ago in the region title game. Vanguard is now part of Class 3A Suburban while Jones competes in the Metro classification. So if the pieces fall into place, the Knights might just ride off into the sunset. Vanguard kicks off against GHS on Aug. 26.

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