Confidence the key for Reese Vita
Reese Vita likes to have fun, but he also likes winning football games. “I’m kind of the guy who’s in the locker room and messes around, you can almost say I’m like a clown, but not really,” Vita said. “But when we get on the field, I’m ready to get to work.”
Heading into his junior season as the quarterback for Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota, Fla., Vita had one serious goal – winning the Class 3A, District 6 title. Mission accomplished. On Nov. 1, Vita and the Cougars beat Bishop Verot while winning their first district championship in seven years.
“I wanted to get the team ready and get that mindset to where we want to win the district championship,” Vita said. “Coming into Mooney it was kind of like, ‘Oh, get ready for another losing season,’ that kind of thing, that kind of attitude. I’ve always wanted to change that and I want to be the guy to change that.”
Vita was the Cougars’ starting quarterback as a sophomore and he had a solid season, throwing for 1,580 yards and 12 touchdowns. On the flip side, he was not happy with his team’s 5-5 record and another failed attempt at advancing to the playoffs.
With a year of experience under his belt, Vita had 934 yards passing and 10 TDs this season as Cardinal Mooney (7-2) headed into the playoffs against St. Petersburg Catholic. The success he had as a sophomore has left Vita much more relaxed and sure of himself this season.
“I think my leadership abilities have improved, definitely,” Vita said. “I was always kind of nervous doing things and I feel like I had a confidence issue almost in myself. But through a bunch of people and the people who supported me, they kind of made me realize I don’t need to have a confidence issue. I can be confident in my abilities, I can be confident throwing the ball and be confident running the ball or doing anything. I think that’s been one of my biggest improvements, that and my leadership and knowing what it takes to be able to make that step and turn the team into district champion or regional finalist. Knowing what it takes and how hard we need to work has helped me this year.”
Vita has been playing football since he was 4 years old, and he’s been a quarterback for all but one of those years. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has also been attending NFA camps for seven years.
“They’ve helped me tremendously,” Vita said of the NFA experience. “I can’t speak enough for those guys. They’ve always been with me and when I went to Duel in the summer, even if you don’t see those guys for a while you just kind of pick up where you left off. You really feel at home there, you feel like you’re a part of something there. Coach (Darin) Slack, he hits it home every time I’m there. Aside from getting trained tremendously in throwing mechanics and everything else of a football nature, I believe that’s one of the places where you learn to become a man. That really made it different from any other training I’ve been to or will ever go to. Those are my guys. I love going to the camps and I love training with Will (Hewlett) and Dub (Maddox) and Darin. It’s fantastic.”
Vita has the playoffs to concentrate on, and then there is his senior season at Mooney. But he doesn’t want to stop playing quarterback when his high school eligibility expires.
“I would love to be able to take the chance and play college football anywhere, whether it’s D-1, D-11 , D-1AA, D-3, NAIA, anywhere,” Vita said. “I want to work hard enough to be able to play college football and do what that takes. And I think NFA has put me on the track to do that.”