Okeechobee High School grid players gear up for fall

Kenny Buckner goes through basic tackling techniques as Juan Yae Ford looks on Monday. Fifty-one players were in action for the first day of fall football practice Monday.

Kenny Buckner goes through basic tackling techniques as Juan Yae Ford looks on Monday. Fifty-one players were in action for the first day of fall football practice Monday.

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School fall football practice opened Monday with 51 players on hand greeted by cooler temperatures due to some cloud cover.

The team appears to have a talented corps of players who are united in their belief that the team will be better than the two-win team that competed last year.

Coach Chris Branham and his staff were busy working on new techniques, new ways to call plays, and siphoning out the pretenders from the contenders on his roster.

The Brahmans have two weeks before school starts so the coaches took advantage with an early morning meeting and two-a-day practices all week.

Assistant head coach Tyrone Smith talks to the young men during drills Monday.

Assistant head coach Tyrone Smith talks to the young men during drills Monday.

The Brahmans open their schedule on Friday, Aug. 21, when they tangle with the LaBelle Cowboys in a kickoff classic exhibition.

The season begins for keeps on Friday, Aug. 28 at Glades Day School in Belle Glade.

Coach Branham would like to find new offensive linemen, a starting quarterback, starters at wide receiver, and linebacker by Aug. 17 to have them ready for the season.

Key players for the Brahmans this year include two players who made the Pre-Season All Treasure Coast Team, Jajuan Cherry and Edrick Neal. Other top players include Antawyn ‘Bubba’ Fludd, Logan Etherton, Kysell Richardson, Juan Yae Ford, Arthur Woodruff, Jermaine Moore, Evan Neal, Fred Bradley, Caleb Smith, Joseph Benjamin, Jacob Emmick, Drayton Billie and Andravious Stallworth.

‘Bubba’ Fludd works out at quarterback during Monday’s OHS football practice.

‘Bubba’ Fludd works out at quarterback during Monday’s OHS football practice.

Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Tyrone Smith said the coaches are excited about the talent that returns and they hope to build up some depth. He predicted about 65 players would be on the junior varsity and varsity teams this fall.

“We have several kids returning. Right now we want to find some depth and also put out best players on the field,” he stated.

Besides Cherry, Fludd and Lamar Williams, most of the players will be on either offense and defense. Smith said the coaches pretty much had figured out who the starters would be after spring practice. The number one job right now is setting the depth chart to see who is available when the injuries inevitably come.

“Some guys will have to step in at times. We really would like most of our players to just have to play one side of the ball,” he added.

Smith mentioned freshman defensive linemen Evan Neal as a player to watch. He weighs over 350 pounds and is only 14 years old. Smith said college coaches were impressed with Neal at several summer camps and how well he performed against older players.

“Evan had a really good summer. We got some positive feedback from college coaches. He has definitely jumped up our depth chart,” he added.

The team attended camps at the University of Florida, Webber International University and Florida Atlantic University.

Some Okeechobee players got to hear from such prominent coaches as Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Smith said he feels the team will definitely be ready when they play LaBelle on the road.

“Right now the kids are just ready to get suited up. As a coaching staff we’re excited to see what this year will bring.”

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