The Eagles are led by second-year Head Coach Daryl Stewart. Brandon is a very young team with only five seniors and four returning starters on offense and defense. The two-way football team has converted athletes from other sports and has recruited first-year players that have been at the school but have not played football before. This will be a valuable season for Stewart and his squad to gain experience and build the program up.

Stewart wanted to take on the challenge of rebuilding his alma mater. The former lineman graduated from Brandon in 1995. He was the defensive coordinator at East Bay for seven seasons prior to taking his first head football coaching job last season. He also coached at Brandon as an assistant from 2000-2006. He thinks that this program has potential and can be successful if they can keep their players at the school and keep them grade-eligible.

Senior captain Jose Moya is the QB-1 for the Eagles and will lead the offense. The first-year player has a strong arm, good instincts and is a student of the game. Brandon is a spread-to-run offense.

Other key players include junior running back/safety/linebacker Kyler Keckler, who was a second team All-Conference selection last season; junior lineman Ayden Spencer, who will anchor the offensive line; senior running back/receiver/safety Jayden Morgan; sophomore running back/cornerback/safety Grover Colbert; and senior defensive tackle/linebacker Howard Davis. Arguably their best class is their sophomore class, which is very athletic and has a lot of college potential.

Stewart thinks that his team’s biggest strengths this season are their willingness to learn and their ability to play together and play through adversity. They keep their heads down and are constantly working to get better every day. He said that his team has bought into the message that they might not win a state championship, but they will work hard enough to. He also said that his team needs to improve in the trenches on the offensive and defensive lines because they are very young and inexperienced at those positions.

Stewart wants his team to just focus on the things that they can control. Wins and losses aren’t something that they solely key in on in terms of the process of getting better. They want to be the best that they can be, reach their potential as quickly as possible and play the best football that they can. This year will be a measuring stick for next season and future seasons to come.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.