OHS football team makes progress at spring practice

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee coaches are impressed with the effort of the players this spring.

They would like to have more players though.

Only 20 eighth graders from the middle schools came out to play football, and that could mean no eighth grade scrimmage this year.

“Spring has been okay so far,” coach Chris Branham said. “We are building up our younger guys and keeping the older guys healthy.”

Branham said he has been pretty vanilla this spring with the playbook so the kids can really learn their assignments and execute what is demanded of them. He said fans will not see a lot of extravagant plays Thursday when the Brahmans host John Carroll.

“We may have more no huddle and be a little up tempo, but that will mostly be the same speed as we just call plays at the line of scrimmage,” he explained.

Branham said all of the players are getting a long look from coaches to see what they can do and where they might be able to help the team.

One area of concern was the offensive line. He said there are now six or seven solid candidates to fill those spots.

The Brahmans have also been visited several times by colleges who are interested in incoming senior Antawyn Bubba Fludd. At last count seven colleges had made him scholarship offers. Fludd is in no hurry to make a selection and said he will wait until at least the fall of the year to make a decision.

Another player, incoming sophomore Evan Neal, has also received attention from many colleges including some of the most well known in the country.

“Evan has been dominant, unless there’s another word for it,” Branham said.
Another standout has been running back and linebacker candidate Juanyae Ford.

“I think Juanyae has had the best spring of everybody,” Branham added.
On the injury front, Joseph Benjamin rolled his ankle and has been limited at practice. He injured the other ankle last year and missed eight games. Caleb Smith, Nolan Carpenter, and Royce Arnold are among the players trying to earn starting roles on the offensive line.

Mateo Vasquez has also looked good on the defensive line and event tight end. Vasquez will be a senior next year.

“I think we can go all the way this year if our defense just comes to play and doesn’t give up many touchdowns,” he noted.

Vasquez said he has increased his speed and has better hands this year.

“My goal is to have the best defensive line there is and to step up as a leader,” he added.

Vasquez also plays basketball in the winter time and said it helps to keep him in shape and also keeps him out of trouble.

He said he wants to do what it takes to have a winning team.

“I will do whatever I can do to make my team better and take them all the way,” he added.

Coach Branham said he is still looking for candidates to play outside linebacker. He said the strongest and deepest group on the team is the secondary. Players earning praise include Deshon Wellington, Andravious Stallworth, Fludd, Jermaine Moore and Juwan Marshall.

The Brahmans were (4-6) last season. The spring game is this Thursday, May 12, against John Carroll. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Brahman Stadium. There is an admission charge.

Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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