Scouting Report: OHS Brahmans to play LaBelle Cowboys

OKEECHOBEE — Another season of Brahman football begins just like last year with the LaBelle Cowboys.

Last year Okeechobee won 38-7 at LaBelle and they hope for a similar result this year.

OHS went 4-6 last year while LaBelle finished 5-5.

Okeechobee coaches would like to have fewer two-way players, or those that play both offense and defense this season. They figure it will keep the players fresher and perhaps less prone to injury.

On offense Okeechobee returns several key players which include quarterback Antawyn ‘Bubba’ Fludd, who has received 15 college scholarship offers and intends to play, as of today, with the University of Southern Mississippi. Thousand-yard rusher Lamar Williams returns to run over some people and OHS has some talent and depth at wide receiver. They will feature a four-wide formation with Demetrius Clark, Kysell Richardson, Jermaine Moore, and Jajuan Cherry expected to start. The offensive line includes veterans Nolan Carpenter, Royce Arnold and Caleb Smith, newcomer Koby Chapman, and James Thomas who returns after taking a year off.

The offense shouldn’t be a problem as the team averaged over 25 points per game last year and should surpass that total this year.

Defense was the problem last year, especially in the run game, as the Brahmans gave up an average of 35 points per game. The defensive starters for week one include Mateo Vasquez, Joseph Benjamin, Bobby Wright and Chapman on the defensive line, Juan’yae Ford, Bracen Harvey and Matt Garcia and linebacker, and Andrevious Stallworth, Malcolm Chambers, Deshon Wellington and Cherry in the defensive backfield.

The team also features a solid kicking game with placekicker Jarrett Mills, long snapper Eli McMullen and holder Logan Etherton. The roster will include 27 players in uniform tonight.

LaBelle didn’t lose a lot to graduation and features tailback Tray Williams, who rushed for 1,059 yards last year and 12 touchdowns. Tyler Burton steps in as the new starter at quarterback. He threw only 26 passes last year. His top receiver threat could be Michael Rothenhoefer, who grabbed nine passes last year.

The Cowboy defense will be led by linebacker Jaxon Purvis.

OHS coach Chris Branham enters his ninth year and is now the longest tenured coach in OHS history. He said they spent the summer trying to change the mentality and using practice time more productively.

Unfortunately there was a poor turnout among the varsity players in the weight room, as only seven kids were there on a regular basis. Branham said the team has struggled with confidence and the mental side of the game.

“We feel we are as talented as we have ever been. I tell the kids if we didn’t believe you had the ability to do the job, you wouldn’t be on the field,” he explained.

Branham said he likes his offensive line and noted Thomas gave an immediate spark to the team when he returned this summer. Arnold has had a very strong summer camp, and Carpenter is a tough, gritty, fighter at offensive tackle. He also praised Richardson for his growth at wide receiver and noted he has great hands and instincts. He wants enough of a passing game so defenses respect the threat of the pass and can’t focus on Fludd and Williams in the run game.

On defense he feels Cherry can be one of the best defenders in the area. He also praised Harvey for his toughness and aggressiveness at middle linebacker.

“He is something special. He may turn out to be one of the best players we’ve had,” Branham added.

The coaches also like the depth and talent in the defensive backfield.

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Brahman Stadium. There is a charge for admission and parking.

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

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