Jess Hinkle, For The Miami Student

After a lot of stress and a few rough seasons, the Talawanda Braves football team is beginning to see positive returns this year. The team is the talk of the town this week after having won their game last Friday against Monroe High School 24-14.

Head coach J.D. Vonderheide said he believes the catalyst for this recent turn around was the team’s effort.

“[It was] all hard work, dedication and commitment of the players, coaches and everyone involved,” Vonderheide said.

Vonderheide said the team was put through a rigorous training schedule during the summer.

“We would lift and run four days a week starting at 7 a.m.,” Vonderheide said. “We spent an hour and 15 minutes in the weight room and an hour doing conditioning, speed and quickness work.”

In addition to their summer preparation, the team also worked hard throughout the offseason, Vonderheide said. Between Dec. and May, the team spent four days a week lifting and one day running.

Dakota Byrd, senior running back and linebacker, said he believes all the training has paid off. Byrd said his favorite Braves memory was last week.

“[The team was] coming off the field and [we saw] the whole community at the game, knowing they were there to support us,” Byrd said.

Vonderheide said he has some concerns about upcoming games. He said there are at least two players that would not be playing in the next game. Byrd and junior running back and corner back Maurice Thomas will be out this Friday, Vonderheide said.

Vonderheide said making sure players stay healthy is one of the most important things to maintain to ensure a good season.

Miami University has a history with Talawanda football. Vonderheide and several other Braves coaches played at Miami. Byrd said he felt Miami has done a lot for the Braves.

“[Miami football has] always been open for us to come…and meet with them to watch practices or [to help us] develop our program,” Vonderheide said.

When starting as Talawanda’s coach, Vonderheide said he looked up to Terry Hoeppner, former RedHawk head coach.

Vonderheide listed Thomas, junior tight end and defensive lineman Eric Mincy and senior offensive and defensive lineman Hunter Backdorf as key players this season who may have college football in their future.

Talawanda junior quarterback Conner Scott said that he has not looked into college football much yet, but that he truly loves the sport.

“Being a part of a team is like being a part of a family,” Scott said.

Miami University sophomore David Malone, a Talawanda alumus, said that he looks forward to seeing what the Braves have in store this season.

The Talawanda Braves have a home game this Friday against the Carlisle Indians.

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