ORANGE PARK – With graduation looming less than a week away, six Ridgeview High athletes were able to sign final scholarships to continue their sports at the college level.
With two baseball; Evan Wickeri and Justin Farmer; two football, Brian Jackson and Dominic Stanfield; a cheerleader, Dacia Bradford and a volleyball ace, Katie Belveal, Panther athletic director John Sgromolo gave his final impassionate speech to athletes under his direction at the final ceremony of the school year.
“It’s all about being great teammates and practicing with energy,” said Sgromolo, himself a Flagler College baseball scholarship player and a former Los Angeles Dodger draftee. “It’s athletes like this group that made coaching fun.”
Belveal, a senior player for coach Destiny Brightman, was instrumental in the Lady Panthers’ four straight district titles and region playoff berths. Belveal, a team captain, signed to attend Pasco Hernando State College, a two year program in the Florida College Systems Activities Association. The Bobcats were 21-8 overall last year and 10-1 in the Sun-Lakes Conference. The Bobcats lost in the FCSAA final to Lake Sumter State College.
For the Ridgeview High cheerleader squad, Bradford heads to Webber International University in Babson Lake.
“From sportsmanship awards, sideline awards and a 16th in nation finish, Dacia is now a Warrior, but always a Panther,” said Ridgeview cheer coach Amy Stutts.
From Panther football, coach Cameron Porch added two more signees to his 21 signed athletes in the past three years with wideout Brian Jackson and linebacker Dominic Stanfield inking in the final week.
Jackson, who had a horrific leg injury after the preseason classic last year, was able to play just three games for Porch.
“He was the hardest practice player I’ve ever coached in my life,” said Porch. “Even with three games, he led the team with 20 receptions, 344 yards and five touchdowns.”
Jackson heads to the Point University Skyhawks in West Point, GA. an NAIA program that finished 3-8 last year.
Stanfield, one of Porch’s leading tacklers on the Panther defense with 90 stops and 2.5 sacks, heads to Middle Georgia State University in Macon, an NAIA program that finished 7-3 last year with a South Atlantic Conference title and a 43-7 loss in the National Club Football Association National Semifinals against Apprentice State. The conference title was the fifth in seven years for Middle Georgia and a fourth appearane in the NCFA playoffs.
“Dom was always first guy on the field, last guy off, a class act,” said Porch.
In baseball, the Ridgeview High, coached by Sgromolo, was expected to finished at .500 for the season with a slew of top graduates, but senior Evan Wickeri was the catalyst for a season that saw Ridgeview knock off Clay in the district semifinal to get to the district championship and earn a region playoff berth.
Wickeri, one of the top pitchers in the county, heads to Florida State College in Jacksonville, a junior college that finished 13-30 in 2019, with teammate Justin Farmer, an outfielder, heading to University of Maine at Preque Isle, an NCAA Division III school that finished 1-31 last year.
“This pair becomes signees number 13 and 14 for Ridgeview baseball in the past four season,” said Sgromolo. “I’ve known both Evan and Justin since they were probably 10 years old and it’s exciting to see them here today.”
Wickeri will join an FSCJ program that has had familiar faces in the past including Austin Morton (FIHS) and Austin Burke (CHS), both sophomores this season.