Photography by Patrick Merrell
On Oct. 25, playing against longtime rival Fort Pierce Central, VBHS won its 61st consecutive regular-season football game — setting a new Florida state record. The next week, for good measure, the team finished the regular season with another win, bumping the record to 62.
Think about that. Except for the playoffs, the last time Vero Beach lost a football game was in 2013. It happened midway through the season, the team’s only regular-season loss that year, and one of only three since Jankowski came to Vero.
Since then, it’s been nothing but victories. For the last six and a half years, the Fighting Indians have outscored their opponents 2,289 points to 724. And it wasn’t just a potent offense that won those games. During Vero’s 62-game streak, the team notched 15 shutouts and another 17 games in which the other team scored a single touchdown or less.
There’s a simple explanation for that success: Coach Lenny Jankowski, or “Coach J” for those who like to save a few syllables. He was a winner as a high school and college player, and he’s been nothing but a winner as a coach.