NO. 7 LAKE GIBSON BRAVES
2016: 13-1, 4-0 in 6A District 8
Last Playoff Appearance: 2016, Lost 6A State Championship to Carol City 14-6
Head Coach: Doug DeMyer, 13-1, entering 2nd season
DL Tequan Brown (76 TKL/28 TFL/10.5 sacks), LB Tyrice Knight (128 TKL), RB Travell Jones (1375 Rush Yards), DE Jaharie Martin (75 TKL), RB Lavarrion Nereus (214 Rush Yards), G Daniel Pearce, DE Shavonta Timothy Jr. (19 sacks/71 TKL)
What will the encore to their state title run be?
The Braves want one more win at the end of the year. “Accomplish the Mission” is their 2017 motto. In other words, get back to Orlando and win the whole thing this time. They lost to Carol City in the finals 14-6.
The Braves will need to find a new quarterback to lead them there again. The back to back district champs lost Kevaris Thomas to crosstown rival Lakeland. Auburndale transfer Travis Williams is the favorite replacement, but last year’s back-up Seth Vann and T.J. Jones are all in the running. Jones returns as Gibson’s leading rusher from 2016, but played QB in the spring game. (150 rush yards/140 pass yards). Their focus will be on the ground game, especially losing leading receiver M.J. Link.
2nd year coach Doug DeMyer said last year the Braves won on “defense, solid special teams and opportunistic offense”. Their linebacking core takes a major hit, graduating two of their top three tacklers. (Noah Johnson and A.J. Deshazor). But they do return LB Tyrice Knight and Shavonta Timothy Jr. Hunter Brozio could step into the MLB role.
Quotable: “Last year was definitely a special year, but just getting there isn’t good enough. We need to climb to the top of the mountain. We need to get to the top of the mountain. We were almost there last year, but we came up a little bit short.” - Doug DeMyer on last year state title run
Game 1: Osceola (Kissimmee)
Game 2: @Kathleen
Game 3: Pope John XXIII (Sparta, NJ)
Game 4: @Lake Wales
Game 5: Palmetto
Game 6: Lake Region
Game 7: @Columbus (Miami)
Game 8: @Auburndale
Game 9: Gibbs
Game 10: Sebring
When you are the Class 6A state runner-up, you are going to get everyone’s best shot each week and the Lake Gibson Braves are preparing for that.
“Really for us there’s no off weeks,” said 2nd year coach Doug DeMyer.
“Everyone’s at our necks cause they think last year was a fluke and that we didn’t deserve to be there,” said senior linebacker Tyrice Knight. “So, everyone’s gonna try to knock us down this year.”
“I mean we made it, but nobody remembers second place,” said T.J. Jones, who rushed for a team high 1,375 yards last year.
Lake Gibson’s fairytale season, ended one win short of state gold, losing to Carol City in the final 14-6. They remind themselves of that every day.
“We put the state playoff brackets in the weight room at each rack so, every time the kids lift they get a chance to peek at the brackets,” said DeMyer. “We put it right by the door in the locker room. So there’s extra motivation every day.”
“We’re just gonna try to accomplish this mission that we tried to do last year and break down a wall this year,” said Jones.
A new quarterback will be driving Gibson’s bus on their road back to Orlando.
Kevaris Thomas left for crosstown rival Lakeland. Auburndale transfer and pro-style pocket passer Travis Williams is leading the current QB battle.
“They just told me, just be myself and don’t worry about anyone that’s left,” Williams. “It’s a big role to fill, but I feel like I can do it.”
“He’s very calm no matter the circumstance,” said DeMyer of Williams. “Now he needs to learn the offense. That’s the biggest thing. Feel more comfortable in the offense.”
Defense carried them to Camping World Stadium. Yet, two of their top three linebackers have graduated.
“Defensively losing those kids it’s just a chance for someone else to step-up,” said DeMyer.
“Everybody’s got to play as a team,” said Knight. “We gotta work hard and we gotta finish, just finish it.”
“We can’t do what we did last year, we gotta be better,” said Jones.