Varsity football learns new language

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photo by Juliana Joyner
Quarterback J.J. Baird hands the ball off to running back Ethan Lopez against Gateway. The team would win 23-0.

With one minute left in the half, running back D.J. McCunney caught a pass from quarterback J.J. Baird, scoring a touchdown from the 25 yard line and increasing the lead 14-0 against Gateway high school.
Against Lake Howell, two and a half minutes into the first quarter, wide receiver Shomaree Blake caught a 24-yard pass for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Baird has 275 yards in the first four games which is already more passing yards than all of last season.
With the addition of head coach Wes Allen, starting quarterback J.J. Baird from Oviedo, and a passing game, the football team looks nothing like last season’s team.
Allen has implemented a new playbook, focusing on a spread formation in contrast to Zigler’s run-heavy system in previous years.
Starting at the end of last year, every position on the field was altered and changed.
“It was like teaching the boys Mandarin,” Allen said.
The new look is not just in the playbook. Also, Allen got the team new Nike jerseys and pads to replace the worn out Russel Athletic gear from last year. Allen said the athletes are like “his kids” and “his kids deserve the best.”
Baird ran spread offense plays at Oviedo, and he runs the some basic offense here now. The transition has not always been smooth, but it has been working so far.
He came in this summer and started helping the team transition to the new offense. It is these offensive plays that have led to games like the 23-0 opening win against Gateway.
A certain level of authority is expected of a quarterback, and so far Baird is pulling through.
“J.J. has stepped up a lot in this class over summer. He has been there for us,” offensive lineman Reece Germer said.
Even though Baird is only a junior, he has earned the respect of all of the team, seniors included. Wide receiver Shomaree Blake said that he’s “seen a lot of leadership come from his heart.”
Besides changing the offense, Allen has created a new atmosphere as well.
“I feel like it’s just [an] all around different culture and attitude on the team,” linebacker Garet Lagrange said.
As of right now the team has a 2-2 record with wins over Gateway and Lake Howell and losses to Lake Nona and Timber Creek.
The homecoming game against Winter Springs is this Friday and then the Oviedo game is on Oct. 25.
Allen is proud of how the players have adjusted and said that “offense is starting to find their identity and… getting better every week.”

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