I was at the Lake Brantley/ Oviedo football game tonight, primarily to watch AJ Coney, a lock down cornerback, punt returner and my JV point guard three years ago. As a freshman, AJ produced on of the most athletic plays I have witnessed in person.
We were playing at Lake Mary, and had the game in hand. AJ was standing just beyond mid-court when a Lake Mary player threw a pass up the sideline in front of the scorer’s table. AJ broke on the ball, reached something close to full speed and jumped to get the ball. He caught the ball, improbably stopped his momentum, landed on both feet inches from the sideline and broke up the floor. It was an incredibly athletic play, but equally impressive for the awareness.
In Lake Brantley, Oviedo faced an opponent that ran 85-90 percent of the time. For a lockdown corner like AJ, there was very little to do play to play. Midway through the first half, Brantley challenged him for the first time, and he made an acrobatic play to bat the ball away from the receiver. As the game progressed, Oviedo could not stop Brantley’s running attack. When Brantley scored to go up 20-7 on their first possession of the third quarter and followed with a stop there was a palpable sense that the game was over.
On the ensuing possession, Oviedo forced a third and long. Brantley’ quarterback rolled out under duress and through the ball up the right side of the field. AJ Coney, with every reason to be distracted by the score, by the lack of activity at his possession, broke on the ball and intercepted it. For the next ten seconds he sprinted, cut, lost his balance, regained it and cut the lead to 20-14. The Oviedo sideline was euphoric. The followed with a stop and a 90 yard drive to take their only lead of the night 21-20.
Brantley responded, and Oviedo never stopped the run losing 42-28. The lesson in this is from Coney, who displayed the focus stay fully engaged in a football game that was being played away from him, and the heart to take the only real chance he had to make a play, and change the game.
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