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Optimism simmers at Eagles camp

Enough starters return to have coach Ernest Hayes believe good days lie ahead.

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001


BRANDON -- Brandon could have one of its best seasons in several years.

"Our kids have been working all summer to stay in shape and get ready for this year, and we expect a good season," coach Ernest Hayes said.

"Last spring, we pushed everyone to begin to see our perimeters for the fall, and we liked many of the things we saw, especially with the flexibility, size and experience of our offense."

The Eagles went 5-5 last year and graduated several players. But they have junior quarterback Adam Garrison back for his third year as the starter, some big offensive linemen and a corps of talented receivers.

Defensively, they have a strong, talented secondary and several youngsters coming in from the junior varsity. "Our philosophy is very simply to win," Hayes said. "We feel we have the talented players to build a winning team, and both them and the coaches are committed to that goal.

"There are still a lot of starting spots open, and we have some youngsters working hard to earn one. If they start to come together early, we could have a great season."

Last year, the Eagles were primarily a running team, but that was because Garrison had very little protection from the offensive line, Hayes said.

However, he said there is a new attitude on the line and believes the pass will become a weapon this season.

OFFENSE: Garrison is the key. He has been working throughout the summer with his father and anyone he could collar to refine his passing.

Hayes said he even has a swinging tire to help perfect his timing. He also attended several camps. "Garrison is a determined kid," Hayes said.

"He reads well, runs well and if given time, can throw well. He is a fine field general for a junior." S.J. Green, Jason Howard, Steve Smith and Curtis Pate comprise the receiving corps, and Trevon Williams will catch some passes out of the backfield.

Williams, a senior captain, also will be the primary running back.

Mike Williams adds speed to the backfield with a 4.3-second 40-yard dash.

Leading the offensive line is 6-foot-6, 305-pound senior tackle John Shanahan, a top Division I prospect.

Brian Howsare will start at center for his third season. DEFENSE: The defense previously has been a weak link, but this year, Hayes believes it could be a strong spot.

Its strength is the secondary, but a crop of young big guys are vying for spots on the defensive front.

Howard, Smith and Michael Williams return in the secondary.

They are described by Hayes as fast, savvy and aggressive.

"Our defensive backfield doesn't have any real big guys, but they are fast and move to the ball quickly," Haves said.

"We also have a number of talented young players capable of moving into the games without losing much."

Terrance Cato and Leo Martinez bring experience to the defensive line, and Rashard Goff adds youth. Cato and Martinez are seniors and Goff a sophomore, but all are 6-2, 210 or bigger.

Hayes said the defense attacks but is not big as a group.

"It is an attacking defense. They will not beat up people but will get to the ball quickly," he said. "Fortunately, the front four are all big enough to force ballcarrier to our quick linebackers and secondary."

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Eagles averaged 30 yards per kickoff return last year. In the spring jamboree against Plant City, they returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, and Hayes said he expects to score on some in the regular season.

BRANDON EAGLES AT A GLANCE

COACH: Ernest Hayes, fifth season (16-24)

ASSISTANTS: Duran Bell, Greg Brooks, Johnny Bush, Tom Howell, Billy Jackson, Matt Kitchel, Tracy Lineberger, Mike Massey, Charles Sams, Daryl Stewart, Terrell Williams

COLORS: Maroon and white

STADIUM: E.F. McLane Stadium, 1101 Victoria Ave., Brandon

CLASS: 4A, District 8

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1969, 1977, 1985, 1996

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Hillsborough 35-30

THE BIG GAME

NOV. 2, BLOOMINGDALE: This is a gimmie. Eagles-Bulls. This has been a backyard brawl since the Bulls began playing right around the corner from McLane Stadium, and the fans in east Hillsborough put their heart and soul into this one every year. Brandon put a whooping on Bloomingdale last year, but all that did is add fuel to this year's fire.

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