A look at the 2010 Out-of-Door Academy football team, coached by Brett Timmons.
NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Brian Ragone, jr., QB
A.J. Strong grabbed all the attention of defenses last season, and why wouldn’t the former Thunder running back? He led the team with 1,656 rushing yards and a state final four appearance.
But, Brian Ragone quietly put together his own solid season in 2009. He tossed 11 touchdowns to go with his 1,205 passing yards.
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Ragone often found his older brother, Chris.
The pair connected 32 of Brian’s 76 completed passes and 9 TD’s in 2009.
The Thunder are going to need a big season from the younger Ragone as the offense shifts into a more pass-oriented attack without Strong roaming the backfield.
That’s fine with the Ragone’s, who have developed a system with their own personal signals on changing up routes and other plays they might see from the defense at the line.
“All summer long, he’s been holding quarterback camps with his wide receivers to get them on the same page,” Timmons said.
FILLING THE VOID: Tyler Burgett, jr., RB Christos Eraclides, jr., RB Jimmy Donnellan, jr., WR/RB.
Strong’s departure to graduation has left a huge hole in the ground game. He amassed 1,656 yards on just 215 rushing attempts. And he scored 24 rushing TD’s. That’s a tall order for anyone to replace, and Timmons said you can’t.
But, they’ll experiment with a trio of running backs including Christos Eraclides, Jimmy Donnellan and Tyler Burgett.
Burgett isn’t without varsity reps, having rushed for 43 yards on 13 attempts last year.
DEEP AT: Skill. Timmons said the squad has loads of talent at the skill positions. That should help ease the transition from last year’s state final four club that lost some key cogs into this year’s edition, which is poised for a repeat run.
THIN AT: OL.
They have a steady line, it’s just the depth that is a bit of a concern. Any injuries could spell disaster for the Thunder, who are like most small schools needing players to play both sides of the ball due to the limited numbers.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Brooks Larkin, sr., OL Jordan Burr, fr., OL
Both players are expected to make an immediate impact on the line and will serve as Brian Ragone’s protection every time the junior drops back to pass. They’ll also help to open running lanes for Burgett, Eraclides, Donnellan and any time Ragone decides to scramble from the pocket.
COACH QUANDARY: Are they for real?
It’s the question Timmons said he’ll find out when the team hits the field for the Kickoff Classic and regular season opener. “In practice, you kind of look at it with an objective eye,” Timmons said. “And you kind of feel like the pieces of the puzzle are there, and maybe can fit. And hopefully the stars can align like they aligned for you last year. But a true test to see what kind of team we are going to be is going against a strong Berkely Prep team, which is a perennial 1A power.”
CAMP STOCK: UP
Jimmy Donnellan. He played wide receiver last season and will do it again. But he’s adding in some reps in the running game to as Timmons said he’ll experiment with him a three-pronged attack at running back.
CAMP STOCK: DOWN
Punter. The Thunder needs to find a servicable replacement to Strong, who punted in addition to his workload on defense and at running back. Otherwise, ODA will have tough decisions to make on fourth downs and could end up losing a field position battle throughout the year.
KEY GAME: Oct. 8 at Fort Myers Evangelical.
While the following week’s contest against local rival Bradenton Christian will garner more attention in the area, it’s the showdown with Fort Myers Evangelical that will determine if the Thunder can repeat their 2009 success. ODA defeated Fort Myers Evangelical twice last season, including the regional final to advance to the school’s first-ever state semifinal and the Sentinels will be looking for payback.
Sept. 10 CARDINAL MOONEY
Sept. 17 NAPLES FIRST BAPTIST
Sept. 24 NAPLES ST. JOHN NEUMANN
Oct. 8 at Fort Myers Evangelical
Oct. 15 at Bradenton Christian
Oct. 22 SW FLORIDA CHRISTIAN
Oct. 29 at Moore Haven
Nov. 5 SAINT STEPHEN’S
Nov. 12 at The Villages
Home games in ALL CAPS
ORLANDO FIRST ACADEMY W, 37-7
at Cardinal Mooney L, 30-8
at St. John Neumann W, 6-0
FORT MYERS EVANGELICAL W, 39-28
SHORECREST PREP W, 48-6
BRADENTON CHRISTIAN W, 17-7
MOORE HAVEN W, 27-21
at Saint Stephen’s W, 35-24
THE VILLAGES W, 49-42 OT
ADMIRAL FARRAGUT *W, 41-17
FORT MYERS EVANGELICAL *W, 32-18
BELLE GLADE GLADES DAY *L, 48-20
*Class 1B-Region 3 playoffs
BY THE NUMBERS
1,656 — A.J. Strong’s rushing yards from 2009 that needs to be replaced.
357 — The yards Kelvin Taylor, son of NFL running back Fred Taylor, gashed the Thunder in their state final four game.
0 — home games at Twin Lakes Park, because the Thunder have their own new stadium set for use in 2010.
ON THE WEB: www.bradenton.com/outofdooracademy
HEAD COACH: Brett Timmons, fifth season, 26-14 record.