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Hope springs to life for ODA football

Brett Timmons knows winning football.

More importantly, he knows winning football in Manatee County, where the winners don’t just win.

They win often.

Now it’s time for his Out-of-Door Academy Thunder to start winning often. Consequently, this past spring was the fledgling program’s most important.

“What we’ve been preaching,” Timmons, ODA’s head coach, said, “is ‘You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.’ ’’

Last year was the first strike — a run to the Class 1B playoffs and a near-upset of Lakeland Victory Christian in the regional semifinals. Every run begins somewhere, and the Thunder hoped theirs began last year.

The trick now is to further it, something Timmons knows plenty about, having won state championships with Southeast in 1993 and 1994.

“If we’re trying to gain the respect of the community and our peers,” he said, “then we have to win, and we have to continue to win.”

That’s why Timmons didn’t lose much sleep after ODA’s scheduled spring game at St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut was washed away by rain.

“The most important thing in my mind,” he said, “is the practices.”

ODA’s baseball team reached the regional championship series, depriving Timmons of about six players. But that gave other guys an opportunity to shine — and some of them did.

“We discovered some hidden gems,” he said.

The offensive line took to a new scheme. The players, especially the guys who played a role in last year’s run, were enthusiastic. The seniors-to-be, the ones entrusted to lead the program forward, were ready to receive responsibility.

It was a short spring for the Thunder. But a good one.

“Our spring went well,” Timmons said.

In the eyes of ODA, this is step one. A positive spring leads to a positive summer. A positive summer leads to a positive fall.

A positive fall, more often than not, results in a longer fall.

And it’s a testament to Timmons and the Thunder that a longer fall is part of ODA’s plans heading into the 2009 season. High expectations are earned. Consider them a positive burden.

The Thunder have earned theirs.

“Now, it’s up to the guys in the 2010 class to put some walls up,” Timmons said. “If you’re using that analogy, we laid the foundation last year. Now it’s time to build upon it.”

Timmons hopes it’s a home that’s built to last.