MOORE HAVEN — Losing football games at Moore Haven High School has been rare the past few years, but when this year’s squad started 0-2, nobody was reaching for the panic button.
Rather the Terriers simply kept working hard and it’s paid off. The Terriers rebounded from the slow start to notch solid victories against Glades Day (43-7) and Okeechobee (26-14) and evened their record at 2-2.
“We had to come back and practice hard and get better,” said freshman lineman Pherian Baker, who is one of five players on this year’s varsity team who attended Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School on the Brighton Reservation.
The others are senior Rob Harris, sophomore Ramone Baker – who is Pherian’s brother – sophomore Hyatt Pearce and freshman Wyatt Hines.
Harris is the lone starter among the group, but all are making an impact on the team in various roles.
At 6-foot-6, 350-pounds there’s no doubt Harris is the big man on campus, and on the field. Nearly every touchdown the team scored against Glades Day was run on Harris’s side on the offensive line.
“We run behind him. We lean on him. He’s out-manning everybody right now so we’ve got to go with what we got,” said Moore Haven coach Brent Burnside, who is in his first year at the helm.
Harris’s size no doubt will attract attention from colleges. He started playing football late and only has two full seasons under his belt.
“He’s young at football. He started at a late age. His ceiling is so high it’s crazy,” Burnside said. “I think at this point now he’s had to step up and be a leader. He kind of rolled behind Andrew Fish for a while; now he’s in that leadership role. He’s adjusting to that a little bit.”
Fish was another giant on the Terrier line the past couple years, but he graduated and is now playing for St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.
The departure of Fish and Conner Thomas has left big shoes to be filled on the offensive line.
“The offensive line is young and need some experience,” Harris said.
One of those youngsters on the line is Pherian Baker, who is a backup.
He played in the fourth quarter against Glades Day as did Ramone Baker on the defensive line. Ramone also saw action throughout the game on special teams.
“Ramone and Pherian came on late this year,” Burnside said. “They’re starting to get a little bit of experience and a little bit of success so hopefully we can set the hook on them and keep them playing. They’re athletic kids and I know we can use them somewhere.”
In addition to Pherian Baker, other promising rookies are Hines and Pearce. Hines saw action against Glades Day in the second half at defensive end. He can also play quarterback.
“He’s playing a little defensive end,” Burnside said. “He played a significant role the first couple weeks because D’Arrion Washington has been out. He’s in that D line mix with us and he’s also got some quarterback experience, too. We’re working a couple of other kids in there, but he’s a versatile athlete.”
Pearce, a wide receiver, is also battling for playing time.
“Young at football; just needs some more experience. He has the athletic ability and the tools,” Burnside said.
Moore Haven has four games in October, including home tilts against Lake Placid (Oct. 11), Frostproof (Oct. 18) and First Baptist Academy (Oct. 25).
The regular season is slated to conclude Nov. 1 at LaBelle.