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Electrifying 11
Two-way threat

Bucs rely on Hamm on both sides of the ball

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Branford’s Dakota Hamm makes plays at running back and linebacker for the Buccaneers. 

BRANFORD — There is no rest for the weary — or the very good at a small school.

Branford standout Dakota Hamm typically plays the whole game at linebacker on defense and running back on offense.

BHS coach Tim Clark and Hamm consider the senior a “natural,” when it comes to his linebacker playing style; the position where he has garnered college interest.

“He visited Stetson and has had other schools invite him for visits or games,” Clark said.

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“It went pretty good,” Hamm said of his visit to Stetson, and considers his value to the team as a leader. He switches up with fellow linebacker Junior Cress as a defensive play caller.

“He’s an experienced player who knows the defense,” Clark said. “When Junior goes outside and Hamm plays inside he’s making the calls. Getting people lined up, and he calls out the strengths of the formations (of the offense). This week Junior will be inside and Hamm will be outside, but he still has to identify players and make a lot of calls. We expect him to be vocal out there and know the defense. He’s got to bring the energy and set the standard on how we play defense with his level of aggressiveness.”
Hamm said he’s better on defense.

“I like my tackling, I think that everything I do on defense is better than anything I do on offense,” he said. “Defense comes more naturally to me.”

Hamm also characterized his style on defense as a parallel to Bill Nye, the TV science guy.

Nye was a scientist and comedian, whose show, which ran from 1993 to 1998, was about various aspects of science.

“He considers himself a smart football player, or at least he tries to be,” Clark explained, adding that Hamm has played every position on the field expect line. “So he tries to use his knowledge of the game and experience at multiple positions to play smart.”

Clark also points out that Hamm is fast as a linebacker.

“I would say his lateral quickness for his size is his strength, other than being able to tackle well,” Clark added. “He can cover sideline to sideline pretty well. He’s a run stopper who pursues the football pretty well.”

For the comedic side of Hamm, Clark considers him a fun teammate.

“He likes to joke around and have fun but when it’s time to work we know we can count on him,” Clark said.

Last year Hamm ran for 546 yards with four TDs and had 35 tackles and two sacks on defense, but he has been hampered by injuries this year.

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Injuries have limited Dakota Hamm this season, but he still leads the Bucs in rushing. 

“It’s limited his carries and what we can do with him offensively,” Clark said. “He’s missed parts of some games.

“At Maclay he rips a 70-yarder, but he sprained his ankle that game. He’s missed the equivalent of two or three games. It’s part of football.”

Hamm added: “I wanted to hit a thousand yards rushing this year. But that’s not going to happen.”

Hamm still leads the 4-4 Buccaneers, though, with 473 rushing yards on 57 carries with six touchdowns. That’s 8.3 yards a carry. On defense he has 10 total tackles.

“Situationally we use him when we’re wanting that tough yard, churn some clock, establish the run game, and when we can’t hit the perimeter,” Clark said. “We put the ball in his hands.”

And no matter what, Hamm – when healthy — is on the field.

“A school this size you want your studs on the field, obviously we’d like to get him some rest, but it’s tough to put one of your best players on the sideline as either linebacker or running back,” Clark said.

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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