Vanguard football preview

By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman

Consistency has been a staple of the Vanguard Knights under coach Edwin Farmer.

In Farmer’s six seasons as head coach, Vanguard (Ocala) has advanced to the playoffs five times.

Now the Knights would like to get over the hump and advance to the state championship game.

It was another banner year this past fall, as Vanguard finished 9-3 and picked up playoff wins over Menendez (St. Augustine) and North Marion (Citra).

The Knights’ season came to an end with a loss in the Region 2-5A final at eventual state runner-up Jones (Orlando).

The third round has been a tough hump for Vanguard to get over through the years, whether it be previously in Class 6A or last year in 5A.

This upcoming season is expected to be another big year for the Knights, with plenty of returning starters, especially on defense.

“We expect to be very aggressive on defense,” Farmer said. “We have all starters back besides two.”

The defense is led by senior strong safety Sergio Gunsby, who led Vanguard in tackles in 2019 with 98 and added 16 tackles for loss and two sacks. Gunsby will be joined in the secondary by senior free safety Mykel Randall.

Senior linebacker Ronald Leslie-Farmer returns after finishing last season with 84 tackles and 13 for loss, as well as senior defensive end Bryce Langston, who will anchor the Knights’ defensive line. Langston has offers from Florida, LSU, and Auburn, among others.

Vanguard does have to replace Southern University signee Andre Jones, who had 15 tackles for a loss and eight sacks as a defensive end in 2019 as a senior, and defensive back Desmond Dailey, who led the Knights with five interceptions. Dailey will be playing college football at East Tennessee State.

Vanguard has a few question marks offensively, starting at the quarterback position. Dailey was also the Knights quarterback last year.

“Quarterback will be interesting this season,” Farmer said. “We expect to have speed on offense and expect some major improvement up front with our offensive lineman.”

Senior Trevonte Rucker, a UF commit, saw some playing time at quarterback last season and will have a shot at the job in 2020, and other than that position will be up for grabs when practice is slated to being in August.

Vanguard also lost its top running back in Dewayne McBride, who rushed for 963 yards and 12 touchdowns last seasons.

Rucker, who averaged nine yards per carry on 35 attempts, and junior Tyrell Randall are the returning leading rushers, with Randall being another option at quarterback.

The offensive line lost Antonio Smith, who is now at Southern as well, but returns seniors Syncere Brown and Gabriel Seamon and junior Noah Walker.

Vanguard will also have to replace kicker Logan Swift, who is now at UF.

As for the schedule, Vanguard will once again play in the tough District 6-5A and will have to travel to Dunnellon, North Marion, and Lake Weir (Ocala) with a home game against Belleview.

The Knights open the regular season with back-to-back home games at Booster Stadium against Gainesville and Buchholz (Gainesville).

School: Vanguard High School (Ocala)
2019 record: 9-3 (advanced to third round of 5A playoffs)
Head Coach: Edwin Farmer (7th year/56-16 record at Vanguard)
Key Losses: Andre Jones DE (Southern University), Desmond Dailey DB/ATH (East Tennessee) , Antonio Smith OL (Southern University) , Logan Swift Kicker (Florida)
Key Returning Players: Seniors: Sergio Gunsby ATH, Trevonte Rucker ATH, Bryce Langston DE, Mykel Randal ATH, Tevin Smith ATH, Savion Harris ATH, Tony Johnson ATH, Ronald Leslie-Farmer LB, Syncere Brown OG, Gabriel Seamon OT; Juniors: Emile Sancho DB, Tyrell Randal ATH, Kelmonte Pete WR, Ronald Carpenter ATH, Jaelyn Gaines DL, Noah Walker OL
Key Newcomers: Brent King ATH, Malik McCanico DB , DD Watts DB , Jordan Woods LB
Most important position battles heading into the fall: Quarterback will be interesting this season.
Outlook/expectations: We expect to have speed on offense and be very aggressive on defense. We have all returners on defense besides two. Expect some major improvement up front with our offensive lineman.

2020 Football Schedule
8/21 vs. Gainesville
8/28 vs. Buchholz (Gainesville)
9/4 at Sandalwood (Jacksonville), 6 p.m.
9/11 at Dunnellon
9/25 at North Marion (Citra)*
10/3 at Carol City (Miami), 7 p.m.
10/9 vs. Belleview*
10/16 vs. Lake Minneola
10/23 at Lake Weir (Ocala), 7 p.m.*
10/30 vs. Forest (Ocala)

All game at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
*Class 5A-District 6 game