Prep football | Out-of-Door Academy's Brandon Place shines in Thunder's first-ever spring win

jdill@bradenton.comMay 19, 2012 

SARASOTA -- Brandon Place recorded one catch for 14 yards in Out-of-Door Academy's spring football game on Friday.

But the rising senior wide receiver's production on offense wasn't what stood out.

Rather, it's what he did on defense and special teams play that provided a glimpse into the talent he possesses.

Place returned a kick 90 yards for a touchdown, raced downfield to recover a muffed punt and snagged an interception as the host Thunder rolled to a 46-27 victory over St. Petersburg Keswick Christian.

The victory marked the first time in Thunder program history that ODA claimed a spring game win.

"I thought I'd have a better game at receiver, but it's OK," Place said. "I was not expecting the kick return, so I'm excited about that."

Both coaches used junior varsity squads for the opening quarter, before the varsity lineups went to work the rest of the way.

And once the varsity members took the field, Place instantly delivered the goods for head coach Brett Timmons.

"Brandon played big this game," Timmons said. "It's his senior year, and we spoke to the guys before we came out that this is the kickoff to the 2012 season. We've only got 48 minutes, so let's go out and play hard for 48 minutes … in two months to get better over the summer, so let's leave it all out on the field for 48 minutes."

Place also added a 41-yard kick return to set the Thunder up with a short field that resulted in a J.T. Fischer 8-yard TD to cap ODA's scoring.

Place wasn't the only player to shine for the Thunder.

ODA's defense was stout for the first two quarters, quarterback Evan Wilson was on point mostly and the running game with Fischer, a rising freshman, provided a balanced attack.

Rising senior wide receiver Hunter Clarke added two touchdown catches.

Those were a part of three scoring strikes from Wilson's arm. Timmons said coming into the spring that there was a concern over the line play.

The offensive line's work in the trenches afforded Wilson enough time to pick apart the Crusaders' defense.

"I think our offensive line played extremely well," Timmons said. "I think that goes to our offensive line coach Jim Kernan. I think he did a fabulous job this spring with our offensive line getting those guys ready to play."

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