MOORE HAVEN — The Moore Haven Terriers football program kicked off the first official day of practice for the 2019-20 school year on July 29.
New Terriers coach Brent Burnside said the team had about 40 players out bright and early at 7:30 a.m. getting ready for the new season.
“There’s not a lot of evaluation at this point, really just trying to get them in condition this first week,” explained Burnside. “We got in everything that we needed to get done so it was a pretty good first day.”
Moore Haven has been able to put together two back-to-back successful years. In 2017 the program had its first-ever undefeated regular season and last year they finished with an 8-1 regular season record that saw them host their third home playoff game in school history.
Burnside also released a statement ahead of the first practice on social media.
“This is an honor for me to work at a school that focuses on developing these young men to succeed, not only on the playing field, but in life after high school,” read the statement by Burnside. “We have the opportunity this year to make history and we will need everyone’s support as we will be facing a tough schedule that includes some first time opponents.”
One of those games against a first-time opponent will see the Terriers travel to Orlando to face the Shiloh Christian Saints from Springdale, Ark. The Saints made it all the way to the Arkansas state semi-final last year and should be a tough test for the scrappy Moore Haven team.
But despite the many new teams the Terriers will face in the up-coming season there are still a few familiar faces and old rivalries that the team will look forward to. One of the more exciting games in recent years has been when the Terriers and Glades Day Gators meet up for their annual lake area battle.
The Terriers have beaten the Gators three times in their last three meetings, including once in the playoffs. But each of those games has been a wild, back and forth affair often coming down to the final few seconds.
“We’ve gone through our schedule as a staff and that Glades Day game scares me every year,” said Burnside. “They jump up on us every year and somehow we find a way to get ourselves back and come out with the victory. That’s a group that wants to beat Moore Haven badly and you can see it when they are out there, they leave it all out on the field.”
Glades Day nearly pulled off the win during their last match-up on Oct. 3 last year at home in Belle Glade. The Gators offense led by quarterback A.J. McPhee marched down the field and set up for what would’ve been a game-winning field goal, but the attempt sailed wide right.
That crucial miss gave Moore Haven the victory and the Terriers their first away win over the Gators in Belle Glade in 20 years.
Moore Haven will also be making the trip up to the top of the lake to face the Okeechobee Brahmans this year. It’ll be the first time the two teams have faced each other since 2016 when the Brahmans won in a 45-7 blowout. But that was a much different Okeechobee team than we last saw in 2018. Last year the Brahmans were more likely to be on the losing side of a blowout than on the winning side. Both teams appear to be coming into the new season with wildly different stories and momentum. Moore Haven will be looking to sustain the success they’ve found in recent years while Okeechobee will look to rebound after going 0-10 in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how the two team stack up to each other when they meet in early September.
The Terriers will open the 2019 season in two weeks on Aug. 16 against East Lee County in the kickoff classic.