The victory was the first under Coach KB Belton.
KB Belton had to wait a while for his first win as a head coach, but the waiting was worth it.
Belton and The Out-of-Door Academy football team (1-4) defeated Ocala Christian Academy 48-22 on Friday in the first round of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoffs. The Thunder won despite not having star senior quarterback Tyler Beasley, who is week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. In his place, senior Patch O'Keefe stepped up, doing what was asked of him while ODA's ground game dominated the Crusaders.
Junior running back Grady Paxton had three rushing touchdowns, while senior Nolan Lewellen had a 55-yard rushing touchdown on the first play of the game and later added a 30-yard receiving touchdown from O'Keefe.
Belton said he was proud of his team for coming together as one to get the win, but wants to see them finish the game stronger next week. ODA advances to play Cedar Creek Christian Academy (4-5) at home Nov. 13 in the SSAC's Class A semifinals.
Elsewhere, Lakewood Ranch High (5-3) defeated Seminole high (3-5) 28-0 at home in the Mustangs' regular-season finale. They will play Manatee High (6-1) at home Nov. 13.
Braden River was off this week. The Pirates (3-3) will play South Fork High (1-5) at home Nov. 13.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.