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The View From Glass Bottom

October 13, 2013
Terry Vaughan

The word "Wakulla" is believed to have derived from the Timucuan Indians, meaning "Spring of Water". This makes sense, as Wakulla Springs remains a popular attraction and features Glass Bottom Boat rides in which tourists can view hundreds of feet down through crystal clear spring-fed waters. Many fond memories remain from my many visits to this "Old Florida" treasure growing up.  As was the case with Silver Springs in Ocala, numerous classic movies were filmed at Wakulla Springs, to include Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Friday night Wakulla High brought a monster of a team to David Hurse Stadium to face a Bradford squad that appeared to be sinking into the depths. The state ranked 5A War Eagles had won 16 of their previous 18 contests, with the only 2 blemishes against defending state champion Tallahassee Godby.  To make matters more imposing, the War Eagles were led by super sophomore Felipe Franks- perhaps the state's top quarterback prospect in 2016. Franks can launch a football 70 yards practically flatfooted and his brother Jordan was known to be a big time receiving target that will also one day play football on Saturdays.

In other words, many felt that Bradford would be like the fish food I used to toss over the rail of the Glass Bottom Boat as a kid-destined to be quickly engulfed by a largemouth bass.

But when the final horn sounded following the 28-7 Wakulla victory, there was a different feeling that was even more uplifting for Bradford fans than after a narrow win at Interlachen the week before. The 4A Tornadoes went toe-to-toe with the 5A War Eagles and if not for the big play magic of the Franks to Franks connection, the contest could have been very close. The Bradford defense swarmed around the football, making life uncomfortable for Franks, and the offense moved the ball well at times. Following an electric pick-six by Don Jeffers in the 3rd quarter, the outcome still remained in doubt until a late Wakulla score sealed the deal.

Coaches typically do not embrace "moral victories" but it was obvious from talking with Steve Reynolds and several players after the game that the mood was upbeat. The long awaited light seemed to turn on and Bradford gained confidence with the way they battled a traditional 5A power. Sometimes a team can gain traction even in defeat.

Following stormy weather, the view below from the Glass Bottom Boat can be cloudy and obscured from all the muddy silt that kicks up from the water's floor. Through 5 games, the Tornadoes had endured a stormy season and the view was hardly pleasant. An inspired effort against Wakulla may just spring the team from the murky depths into a clear path toward a successful dive through the home stretch of the schedule.

In other words, the view from Glass Bottom looks a lot better than before.