High School Sports

Prep football | Players take the field as practice begins for high school players in Florida

Braden River punter Colton Heath practices along the sideline during the first day of spring football practice Monday at Braden River High School. 
 GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald
Braden River punter Colton Heath practices along the sideline during the first day of spring football practice Monday at Braden River High School. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald gjefferies@bradenton.com

EAST MANATEE -- Heavy rain swooped across Braden River High School, limiting the Pirates first practice since becoming the last Manatee County school to finish their 2015 prep football campaign.

Braden River advanced to the Class 7A state semifinals, before Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas eliminated the Pirates.

On Monday, though, Braden River was one of several schools in the area that took advantage of the first practice date for the spring slate that culminates with May's games.

The Pirates got to work for roughly 1 1/2 hours, before rain washed out the remaining practice time.

"We did everything else, we got to team and it was an absolute monsoon," Braden River head coach Curt Bradley said. "One of the hardest it's ever rained. But it's good to get out here. And with the acclimation period, it still counts as a practice. So better to get rained out in just helmets than when you have the full gear or even shoulder pads on."

Several starters off last season's undefeated regular season team that won its second straight district championship were seniors.

That includes quarterback Jacob Huesman, who is heading to Appalachian State in late June. Huesman, though, is one of several Braden River departing seniors that are helping the newer players get used to the program.

For Huesman, it means getting a look at new signal-caller Louis Colosimo, who transferred from IMG Academy. Huesman said Colosimo has gotten used to the people and the field coming to a new school like Braden River, and he has the arm, too.

"You can tell in his stroke, you can tell in his drop," Huesman said. "It's very crisp, clean and it's very mechanical so you can tell how crisp it is."

Braden River's spring game is May 19 at St. Petersburg Lakewood.

Meanwhile, it's a new era at Bayshore and Southeast with new head coaches. It's also a new era for Palmetto football. The Tigers lost quarterback Jack Allison to the University of Miami, and have a different look with Jason Spicer Jr. handling the snaps as a mobile threat versus the pocket passing style that Allison gave Palmetto.

"It puts a lot more pressure on the defense," Marino said. "When you have that pro-style drop-back quarterback, you know exactly where he's going to be. Those guys have a tendency to have a hard time extending plays. So that X-factor of when a defense has a scheme covered, but they can't account for the quarterback and his athleticism ... that puts a lot of pressure on the defense."

The Tigers churned out 102 players, Marino said, for Monday's opening practice. Marino added it was an exciting first day with players flying around the field.

Palmetto travels to St. Petersburg High on May 27 for its spring game. IMG Academy isn't having a spring game, but a scrimmage amongst its players slated for May 20.

"The first practice (Monday) went really well," IMG head coach Kevin Wright said in a text message. "The team showed a lot of effort and you could tell they were excited to get back out there after a long off-season. We had 58 players dress out for the first practice, and at this stage, we are looking to keep building on the momentum from last season while continuing to build chemistry."

Manatee fans have to wait to see the Hurricanes begin their spring practice schedule. The Canes are starting a week later due to their game taking place on May 27 at home against Clearwater Countryside. Manatee head coach John Booth said it's because they didn't want any off days during the week due to the 20 practices limit set by the Florida High School Athletic Association in the spring.

Nonetheless, Manatee will still need to endure the acclimation period before putting full pads and going into contact drills like area teams that began this week.

"For us to be able to go and treat each week kind of similar to a game week, where you practice your four days leading up to a game-type of an environment ... is kind of the goal we were trying to do," Booth said.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at jdill@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill and like his Facebook page at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.