BELL, Fla. — The Branford Buccaneers football team traveled to Bell High School on Saturday to play in a four-team officials scrimmage that included a win against Williston on the last play of their second scrimmage.
With no time left, Branford scored on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Seth Heiderman to receiver Colton Leibold in the one-quarter, 12-minute scrimmage. There was good coverage on the play, but Leibold was able to get between the ball and the defender to make the catch on the post route in the end zone for a 6-0 win.
A tight game that could hinge on one play was something that Branford coach Tim Clark told his team could happen in the fall.
“I told them at some point in the fall we would be down to one play, a make or break situation, where we have to run routes or make a good throw or protect the ball or the games over,” Clark said, stressing to the team after the scrimmage that in a tight game, chances to win can get slim.
The exciting finish came after Williston was trying for the Buccaneer end zone for the win just moments earlier. At their own 45 yard line and with less than a minute left, the Red Devils tried a down-the-field trick-play pass after a handoff to the running back, but the pass was short.
On the next play, they ran the ball left and the ball was bobbled and fumbled. Branford’s Markell Pugh picked up the ball and returned it to Williston’s 10-yard line. That set up the win.
It was a quick scrimmage and on the initial drive Branford advanced the ball with a 15-yard run by Kyson Johnson and an 11-yard run by Clay Williams. Both accounted for first downs.
Leibold added a seven-yard run, and Williams also had two good receptions on the drive.
“Clay Williams played well, offensively and defensively,” Clark added. “Colton Leibold made some plays; he’s our most electric playmaker. Seth Heiderman stood in there, delivered the ball, had a couple good runs and managed the offense well. And Markell Pugh, who hasn’t started a varsity game (at the two back) and was our only two (tailback) back today, did well.”
The scrimmage featured a running clock and with about four minutes left, the Bucanneers threw into the end zone, but Heiderman missed his target and the ball was intercepted.
Williston took over from its 20-yard line with less than three minutes left and made it to their 45-yard line before the rousing finish.
The scrimmages started around 9:15 a.m. with Branford going against Dixie County in two 12-minute quarters. That game had some flashiness exhibited by Branford with an 18-yard run by Junior Cress. That drive ended, and later, Heiderman had a 37-yard pass completion and run by Leibold to the Devil 35-yard line. But that play ended with a 15-yard penalty against the Bucs, which moved the ball back.
The officials later said that the called penalty was a mistake; explaining that the referees were also in training.
“(Officials also need to) knock off the rust before the season starts. That’s why they scrimmage also. They take a lot of heat from everybody, and we appreciate what they do,” Clark added with a chuckle about the play.
That drive ended when Heiderman was short on a quarterback draw up the middle on fourth-and-3.
Dixie took over and with excellent running, and mixing up plays, was able to score and win 8-0.
Dixie fullback Fitzgerald Warren was a workhorse on the final drive and scored the winning TD on a short run.
“(Warren was) making his reads well, was poised and under control,” Dixie head coach L.B. Cravey said.
Cravey was also impressed with Branford.
Clark described Dixie as a tough team with many returning players.
“I was pleased to see how physical we were against Dixie,” Clark said. “Our theme this year is to see how quickly we can develop some of these young players for varsity, and the varsity environment. I thought they stepped up and played well. Dixie has really good physical football players. I don’t like that they scored. We gave up a couple big plays to set them up. For the most part we were able to play pretty good defense.”
Clark saw the scrimmage as a chance for the team to work on alignment and conditioning.
“We wanted to get this on film today; we have two weeks before Week 1 to tweak or change. We have a lot of guys playing both ways,” he said. “Overall, I was pleased by our execution and physicality, not thrilled, but pleased.”
Clark said Branford’s conditioning and shape was good, especially considering the scrimmage was during the day and the games will have a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Bucs also played without senior Dakota Hamm, who is expected to be their top running back and will play linebacker as well.
“We’re trying to clear him up medically. We’re hopeful to get him back by Week 1, and in shape so he can be helping us,” Clark said.