STADIUM: E.F. McLane Stadium, 1101 Victoria St., Brandon CLASS-DISTRICT: 7A-8 (with Durant, East Bay, Plant City, and Strawberry Crest) COACH: Dean Eychner (1-9, second season) LAST SEASON: 1-9
Size and experience key for Eagles
Perhaps the cornerstone to Brandon's offense can be found on its line. Senior G/T Darren Lester (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) will anchor the offensive line. Brandon should have an advantage as almost its entire offensive line will be comprised of seniors.
“It's comforting for every one on that side of the ball (to have so many seniors on the offensive line),” coach Dean Eychner said.
“It starts up front, starts with (the offensive line). It's a battle (on the line). It's a battle to move the defense and make the hole,” Lester said. “I lead by example. We bust our butts in practice and carry it over to the game.”
Eychner also will give Lester some snaps on the defensive line this season. Lester is a bit of a hidden gem, as so far he has no college offers.
“I think colleges are missing out (on a great player),” Eychner said.
This year Brandon will be celebrating its 100th anniversary as a school. Through the years, Brandon has its ups and downs. Last year was a down year for the Eagles, who finished 1-9. Second-year coach Dean Eychner is focusing on bringing Brandon back to the upper echelon of Hillsborough County.
“We are bringing back tradition,” Eychner said. “There is a legacy we are representing. Our motto is 'Attitude and Effort.' ”
Part of Eychner's approach is focusing on hard work and having a blue collar attitude toward the game. He said his squad is up to 90 players and that the interest continues to grow.
“We are not a glamorous program. We are a working man's program. We are not given anything,” Eychner said. “What's fun is to watch (the players') growth as players and as people.”
Stick to the plan
Perhaps most frustrating for Brandon last year was the number of close games it lost. The Eagles' losses to Freedom, Plant City and East Bay were by a combined nine points. Even after a 1-9 season, Eychner is looking at turning Brandon around with a long-term method.
“We implemented a process and that takes time. We have been moving that process forward,” Eychner said.
Pressure on the QB
For years while at Hillsborough High as the defensive coordinator, Eychner ran the 3-4 defense. This year in an effort to better suit his players Brandon will be running a 4-3. Eychner said the main reason was to try to get more pressure on the opposing offense.
“It is a change in philosophy. I'm rooted in the 3-4. I believe in the 3-4, but I believe in doing what is best for the team,” Eychner said.