21 Teams in 21 Days - Walton Braves

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. - We're on day nine of 21 Teams in 21 Days, and we continue with the final 4A team on the list: the Walton Braves.

They've made the playoffs three years in a row. However, the circumstances the last two years couldn't be more different.

In 2015 the Braves went undefeated with 18 seniors. In 2016, with a much younger team, they went 3-7, but still won their district and, therefore, got into the playoffs.

Now with the new playoff rules and points system in place, a 3-7 record will no longer cut it, so the Braves need to get back to what they were two years ago.

There's plenty of reason for optimism.

Last season's young team is a year older. They have only 7 seniors... but 20 juniors behind them, meaning these next two years give them a great window to develop into something special.

The offense has some really nice weapons. There are three main seniors: running back Javon Graham and receiver JB Baker will be scoring touchdowns, while John Vaneycken will be blocking for them.

At quarterback, 6’2’’ sophomore Keane Neal is the starter as of today, while Kentrell Parker is battling him for snaps.

On defense, the leaders will be returning starters Nick Campbell, Dalton Whitehurst, Eyin Cole, and Parker – all juniors and sophomores.

Head coach Jimmy Ray Stephens wants to see his team come together more this season.

"We have a little motto we put on our shirts – “Teamwork makes the dream work”, Coach Stephens says, “And the idea is be a great teammate. Every day that you come out here, be a great teammate and everybody play together as one - one heartbeat mentally and emotionally. And if we can do that, we'll be ahead of the game."

He adds if his team is going to reach their full potential in the next two years, there's one main thing they're going to need more of.

"Maturity, in my opinion, is the most important asset for a football player - probably more-so than speed, size, and strength,” he adds, “We did not have it last year. Two years ago when we went undefeated we did have it. We had 18 seniors that year. We lost a lot of good players. Hopefully we're going to be a lot better this year, but in two years we're hoping to be special."

Tomorrow on 21 Teams in 21 Days, we stay in Walton County with a look at the Freeport Bulldogs.


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