BRANFORD, Fla. — There was a lot about Branford’s first 7-on-7 workout of the summer that Tim Clark liked to see.
Some were expected — Colton Liebold looking like the Buccaneers’ top playmaker out wide — while others were new — Dakota Hamm making plays out of the backfield. Add in young players stepping up and an experienced defense looking the part, Branford’s workout with Aucilla Christian at Buccaneer Stadium on Tuesday night was a positive step.
“I was happy with it,” Clark said. “For our first thing of the summer … I thought it was really good.”
Among the things that pleased Clark was the play of the Bucs’ defense. After Aucilla completed three of its first four passes to score a quick touchdown, Branford quickly improved.
Liebold had a couple of interceptions on the Warriors’ first 10-play possession and as part of Branford’s improving play, Clay Williams added an interception on a deep ball on the second possession as well as a pass breakup after a nice break on the ball.
“They were making the checks on their own, they remembered what to do and coverages against different formations and that was good to see,” Clark said. “We had several really decent plays, guys breaking on the ball, pretty good eye control and high-pointing deep balls. Overall, I was just really happy they remembered coverages, checked to them quickly and that was good to see. Reassuring.”
Having Liebold back out wide is reassuring to Branford’s offense as well. A year ago, as a junior, he hauled in 13 passes and three touchdowns. That strong play continued in the spring with a pair of long touchdowns in the jamboree and Tuesday, Liebold was back at it again leading the Bucs’ receiving corps.
But Clark was also impressed with Williams as well a nice catch on a fade route by Adrik Miller.
“We were able to mix in some young guys too that maybe didn’t get as many reps in the spring game, and they were able to look at some cards and hear the formations and the calls and learn a little bit on the fly, which is what that 7-on-7 stuff is for,” Clark added. “It’s a little more laid back, we can teach as we go, a little less pressure and still get to compete some.”
With Seth Heiderman, who started some at quarterback a year ago, out of town, sophomore Kyson Johnson received all the snaps. Clark was impressed with his work as well, while admitting it will be nice to have Heiderman back allowing the two to compete while providing another weapon to Branford’s offense.
“We know that Kyson is going to be a weapon for us at receiver too,” Clark said. “He’s just one of our better rising athletes overall, at any of the skill positions. He’s got great hands, he’s kind of sneaky fast for his age, he’s a lanky kid but is putting on some bulk and he can run a little bit.”
Hamm can — and will — run more than just a little bit in Branford’s offense. But with the emphasis on throwing during 7-on-7s, Hamm opened Clark’s eyes a bit with his playmaking ability there as well while lining up in the slot and at the wing.
“He showed he has the hips and has enough speed to get out there and do that for us if need be,” Clark said. “He kind of proved last night he could fill that role if he needs to for us because we know what he can do in the backfield.”
Hamm and the rest of the Buccaneers will get a chance Thursday to show all of what they can do as Branford will travel to Columbia for a padded FCA camp. It is a chance Clark is awaiting, particularly with a team that wants to be a run-first offense.
“We know our identity,” Clark said. “So that gives us a chance to see some offensive line work and to see how we can generate some push up front and how we run the ball too.
“That’ll get back to more of our wheelhouse a little bit and see where we stand there.”