OKEECHOBEE- As the game kicked off between the Okeechobee Brahmans and Lake Placid Dragons on Oct. 20, the last embers from the annual Homecoming bonfire were still glowing in the fire pit across from the football field at OHS.
The Brahmans had what could’ve been a week of distractions leading up to the game. The Homecoming parade, pep rallies, spirit week competitions, and of course the giant bonfire tradition the night before the game. But once they were on the field, the Brahmans were focused on only one thing -- securing their fifth win of the season.
Lake Placid got on the board first. The Dragons recovered their own onsides kick at midfield to start the game, and scored a rushing touchdown a few plays later to go up 7-0. Going down a score so early in your own Homecoming game would’ve took the energy out of this Brahman team a few years ago. But, this season, Okeechobee has built up some resilience. And they’ve shown the ability to shake off negative plays and line back up to win the next snap.
Later in the first quarter, John White and Vincent Cantalini combined for a sack against Lake Placid on third down to force a punt. Jazari Corde took that punt 35-yards to the Lake Placid 30-yard line to set up the Brahman offense with a chance to score. Two big back-to-back Carriss Johns runs followed by a three-yard touchdown run by Ni’marion Bryant and Okeechobee had already answered Lake Placid. Following Bryant’s successful two-point conversion, the Brahmans led the Dragons 8-7.
Bryant scored another touchdown and two-point conversion with three minutes left in the second quarter to make it 16-7.
The second half was all Okeechobee. The Brahmans made plays in all three phases of the game. Even when they had to punt, the execution was impressive. Matthew May hit a 50-yard punt in the third quarter which pinned the Dragons back near their own goal line. The Okeechobee defense completely stifled the Lake Placid running game. Linebacker Fred Hill had six solo tackles, five assisted tackles, four tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, and one interception.
Offensively for Okeechobee Johns had over 100 yards rushing on 22 carries. Johns also had two touchdowns. Bryant rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries, with two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown to John White.
Jazari Corde put the exclamation point on the win by securing an interception in the final seconds of the game. Okeechobee won 40-13.
The Brahmans are now 5-3 this year, and preparing to host district powerhouse Sebring this week. Okeechobee will recognize their seniors before the game. Sebring and Okeechobee kick off at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27.