FRIDAY NIGHT MEMORIES
Why it was special: The Brahmans advanced to the playoffs for the second straight year and won eight games for the first time since 1989. By the numbers: Okeechobee scored 40 points or more six times and finished with a school-record
381 points. Playmakers: Lonnie Pryor rushed for 2,295 yards. His 20 rushing touchdowns tied his 2007 school record. Quarterback Garrett Madrigal passed for 1,334 yards and 18 touchdowns. Five players caught at least 10 passes, topped by Nate Pollard’s 18 for 286 yards.
Seven players caught touchdown passes. Etc.: The Brahmans’ losses were to Jupiter Christian, which won the Class 1B state title; Fort Pierce Westwood, which finished 10-2; and W.T. Dwyer, a Class 4A semifinalist.
August 31 Port St. Lucie September 7 at Desoto 14 St. Lucie West Centennial 21 at Sebastian River 28 Martin County October 5 at Forest Hill 19 at South Fork 26 Palm Beach Lakes November 2 Olympic Heights 9 at Clewiston
Coach Chris Branham believes this is the strongest defense Okeechobee has put on the field since the 1997 team that was known to have one of the top defenses in program history. Though undersized up front and lacking some overall depth, the Brahmans are aggressive and quick to the ball, and they were tough to throw against during 7-on-7s this summer. Position-wise, Okeechobee is especially athletic in its receivers and defensive backs. The passing game also has potential to be solid.
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
DEPTH CHART OFFENSE Pos Name LT Cody Walker LG Cory Vickers C Greg Hernandez RG Ethan Parriott RT Cade Stokes TE E.J. Neal WR Al Morris WR LaVonte Spivey FB Elijahwon Williams TB Fabien Howard QB Jack Radebaugh
No 66 51 55 77 14 6 5 1 30 4 12
Cl Ht Wt Jr. 6-0 260 Jr. 5-8 230 So. 5-10 240 Jr. 5-10 200 Sr. 6-3 185 Jr. 6-2 205 Sr. 5-9 160 Sr. 5-7 120 Sr. 5-9 210 Sr. 5-7 130 Sr. 5-11 150
DEFENSE Pos Name DB D.J. Washington DB Zach Wingfield DB Al Morris DB LaVonte Spivey LB Adrian Minondo LB Elijahwon Williams LB Khalil Smith DE E.J. Neal DT Cory Vickers DE Jose Garcia
No 10 7 5 1 32 30 24 6 51 52
Cl Ht Wt Sr. 5-11 192 Sr. 6-0 170 Sr. 5-9 160 Sr. 5-7 120 Jr. 5-7 195 Sr. 5-9 210 Jr. 5-7 175 Jr. 6-2 205 Jr. 5-8 230 Sr. 5-9 195
SPECIAL TEAMS Pos Name K Adel Elhindi P Jack Radebaugh
No Cl Ht Wt 18 Sr. 6-0 190 12 Sr. 5-11 150
RESERVES Joey Santibanez (3, Sr., WR/DB), G.W. Jarriel (8, So., DB), Thomas Desmond (13, Jr., FB/LB), Brandon Shockley (15, QB/LB, So.), Daniel Nunez (21, So., LB/RB), Conner Clements (22, So., FB), Rico Garza (23, So., LB), Mitchell Madrigal (39, So., LB), Mikel Sadler (64, So., OL), Devon Wigfall (70, So., DL), Bobby Joe Garza (75, Jr., OL), Jefferson Davis (76, Jr., DE), Alec Emmonds (82, Jr., WR/DB)
Coach: Chris Branham (first year of second stint, fifth overall) Record: 22-19 2011: 2-3, 2-8 District 14-6A Assistants: Ty Smith (assistant head coach, defensive coordinator), Chaka Smith (receivers/defensive backs), Chris Hall (linebackers/JV head coach), Darryl Allen (running backs), Joe Smith (assistant, JV defensive backs), Caleb Cornett (assistant, JV receivers), Jeff Whitlock (assistant, JV defensive line), Chris Cyr (assistant), Anna Gilliland (quality control)
STADIUM BRAHMAN STADIUM (3,000)
Playing surface: Grass Address: 2800 Highway 441 North, Okeechobee Directions: From Interstate 95, take Exit 126 and turn west onto Midway Road. Go approximately five miles to Okeechobee Road/ SR-70 W and turn left. Go 25 miles on SR-70 W and turn right onto North Parrott Avenue/U.S.-441. Go 1.7 miles and the school entrance is on the right. Main office: 863-462-5025 On the Web: www.okee.k12.fl.us
■■ Martin County ■■ Clewiston ■■ Sebastian River
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
DEBORAH SILVER/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS
Starting quarterback Jack Radebaugh is the leader of a talented Okeechobee offense that features a quartet of athletic receivers, which performed well during 7-on-7 competitions during the summer.
The competitive edge is there. It’s just finding a way to bring it out because they have worked for everything any team could ask for. They are as prepared as they can be with their bodies and their conditioning. Now, it’s just turning it over to the football side, and we have some very good football players.”
Chris Branham, Okeechobee head coach
Keeping the faith Brahmans have the talent, they just need to believe in themselves to succeed By Laurel Pfahler email@example.com 772-978-2282
OKEECHOBEE — Chris Branham said this Okeechobee football team has as much talent across the board as any team he has ever coached. All that’s missing is belief and an automatic switch that turns up his players’ competition level to the one they are capable of playing. Branham, who is back at the helm after a three-year absence, saw the Brahmans play well all summer in 7-on-7 competitions and work as hard as he has seen any group during offseason workouts. But they hit a snag in their last tournament and had not recovered in preseason practices. Okeechobee hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since Branham’s last year in 2008, when arguably the best player in program history, Lonnie Pryor, was a senior and graduated with a slew of other talented players. The Brahmans are trying to bounce back from a 2-8 season.
“They are as talented as I’ve ever coached, minus the superior player — Lonnie was in another league, that’s why he is at Florida State,” Branham said. “I don’t know if we are better than anyone else, but I believe we can at least match up and stay in our games and, if we do things correctly, I think we have a chance to win, but I don’t know if my kids believe that yet. “The competitive edge is there. It’s just finding a way to bring it out because they have worked for everything any team could ask for. They are as prepared as they can be with their bodies and their conditioning. Now, it’s just turning it over to the football side, and we have some very good football players.” The Brahmans will be returning to the pro-style I-formation Branham ran in his first stint with some single-back sets and more zone blocking to help make up for the offensive line being undersized. This should ease the transition from the spread offense former coach Myron Jackson utilized. But, unlike past years, Branham hopes to have a more balanced attack — something he
Senior RB/WR/DB 2011 stats: Threw for 406 yards, two touchdowns; rushed for 683 yards on 155 carries. Coach Branham: “He’s got tremendous hands. He catches everything that comes to him.”
thinks is possible with athletic receivers like Al Morris, Lavonte Spivey, E.J. Neal and D.J. Washington and a quarterback, Jack Radebaugh, he has faith can get them the ball. “Two weeks before we started camp, I would have told you this is probably the strongest passing team I’ve coached,” Branham said. “Our strength is with our wide receivers, as far as athletic ability. They are as cocky as I have ever coached, but they are disciplined and do what you ask them to do. ... They do a great job of getting open and working in the passing game.” The biggest reason for Branham’s belief in his team is the defense, though, which he said is the best he has seen at Okeechobee since the 1997 squad became one of the best in program history. “They are intense,” Branham said. “They like to get to the football. The problem is just making the tackle. They like to hit and be aggressive. Passing wise, it got tough for people to throw against us in the summer. We could be very strong, defensively, if we play the way I think we can.”
Junior OL/DL 2011 stats: N/A Coach Branham: “He’s a little undersized, but if he has a good year, we’re not going to be too bad. ... He just shows up every time he plays.”
The Brahmans lack depth on the offensive line with just three true backups, and they also are a little undersized, though not tiny, and not as agile as Branham’s last group in 2008. Okeechobee will have to rely on more zone blocking to make the pro-style I-formation work. Branham said this team also struggles to believe it is as talented as he sees, and “the hardest thing about this group is finding the button to push to get them to play to their highest level.”
SEPT. 21: AT SEBASTIAN RIVER
Okeechobee opens District 14-6A play on the road against a Sebastian River team that finished as the district runnerup last year, but getting off to a good start will be key if the Brahmans are going to make the playoffs. It’s considered a weak district, top-heavy to favor South Fork and Sebastian River once again, unless Okeechobee gets in the mix early. In Branham’s four years as Brahmans coach from 2005 to 2008, he went 2-2 against Randy Bethel’s Sharks.
PREDICTION 4-6, 3-2 DISTRICT 14-6A After winning just two games last season, the Brahmans have a lot of improving to do, but display the talent to go at least .500 if the chips fall right. Olympic Heights was a competitive game last year, in which they just couldn’t pull through, but if they can turn that into a win and steal a game from either South Fork or Sebastian River, the Brahmans could be in the hunt for the playoffs. The coaching staff worked the players hard over the summer, and now it’s time to see that competitive edge come out in a game situation.
Junior TE/WR/DE 2011 stats: Caught 10 passes for 168 yards, two touchdowns Coach Branham: “He is a legitimate talent. He has very capable hands. His blocking skills have gotten much better.”