Tigers top Brahmans to get playoff ticket

CLEWISTON — Over the past two years the annual match-up between the Clewiston Tigers and Okeechobee Brahmans hasn’t had much at stake for either team besides pride and bragging rights.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
A few players from the Clewiston Tigers pose on Cane Field after their 35-7 win over the Okeechobee Brahmans on Nov. 1.

Both programs had experienced down years in the last two seasons. Okeechobee won a last-second thriller in 2017 while Clewiston routed the Brahmans in Okeechobee in 2018.

But in 2019 the rivalry game had a little extra significance.

The Tigers and Brahmans are both trending upward this year, and if Clewiston could get the win over Okeechobee they’d also be punching their ticket to the playoffs.

With the playoffs looming, the Tigers defeated the Brahmans 35-7 in front of a sold out homecoming crowd in Clewiston.

“I thought our kids came out and played well,” said Tigers coach Pete Walker. “It’s homecoming and that’s something you always worry about, a lot of distractions during the week. It was important for us to win the game. We had a lot of adversity through the year. It’s big for us, being back in the playoffs for the first time in two years.”

Clewiston stormed out to a 21-0 lead during the first half thanks to touchdowns from Oran Singleton, Jaivus Chavers and EJ Bryant. The Tigers kept Okeechobee off the scoreboard late in the second quarter when Clewiston senior Rayven King made a leaping, one-handed pass breakup in the endzone on a Veyon Washington pass to Joshua Suarez.

At halftime Troy Evans and Norma Velasquez were named Clewiston High School’s homecoming king and queen.

Trailing by three touchdowns, Okeechobee needed to get their passing game going. But the Tigers defensive line kept turning up the pressure on the Brahmans in the second half.

Chavers added another touchdown to open the third quarter, putting the Tigers up 28-0. Then on the Brahmans first play on offense in the third quarter, Chavers came down with an interception to give Clewiston back the ball.

Okeechobee’s Justin Ray returned the favor on the very next play, making a leaping interception of his own across the middle of the field.

Washington took advantage of the turnover, marching the Brahmans down the field on the next drive and capping it off with a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-7.

But two minutes later the Tigers would stick a dagger in Okeechobee’s hopes of a comeback when Morris James hit a leaping Keuntay Felton in the endzone for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Now the Tigers are preparing to travel to face the Lake Placid Dragons in the regional quarterfinal.

“Everyone is 0-0 in now,” said Walker of the start of the playoffs. “You start over. Funny things can happen in the playoffs. We’re going to go out there and do our best. We’re excited about it.”

The Tigers make their return to the playoffs at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 against the 4-6 Lake Placid Dragons.

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