Oviedo High School Football head coach Matt Dixon prepares for the Kickoff Classic on August 16 at home versus Seminole.

The Oviedo High Football spring contest gave their head coach Matt Dixon a chance to see this year’s team in a game situation for the first time.

“We just saw what the kids could do when the lights came on, and see where we are at,” Dixon said.

Varsity played the first, second and fourth quarters, while junior varsity took the field for the third quarter.  

“We try to get in as many kids as we can and let them get the experience,” he added.

As expected, star running back and rising senior Keonte Coffie provided much of the offense, fresh off of being named Seminole County Offensive Player of the Year.

“In two years Coffie has gained more than 3,100 yards for us and scored 22 touchdowns,” boasts Dixon.

New season, big expectations

The 2019 Oviedo High Football Lions return to the field this fall after an impressive 2018 campaign, posting a 5-1 record (8-4 overall), beating Seminole High head-to-head for first place in 8A District 2.

Oviedo hopes to keep that momentum going with a strong core of returning players.

Coach Dixon lists a number of veteran players from last year who will complement Coffie’s contributions, including three-year starter Alex Kardamilas, who Dixon says calls the defense for the team and is “a big run stuffer up front.”

Top wide receiver Matt Rucker, who has started since he was a sophomore, is back, as is Jerimiah Henry, who at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds plays both the defensive line and fullback. Tackle Matthew Reese and linebacker Parker Smythe also return for their senior years.

“There’s one [game] you look forward to every year,” said Dixon. “This year we play Hagerty at home.”

What a difference a year makes

While the 2018 Oviedo High Lions found success on the field, the start to the football season was shrouded beneath an ominous cloud.

After experiencing some unusual pain last summer, 17-year-old Britton Daniel, Oviedo’s star tight end and team leader, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer — Ewing sarcoma.

Britton’s family, friends, classmates, the community and students throughout the county banded together in a remarkable show of support —and thus #11BrittonStrong was born.

Leaning on that support and on his faith, Britton has beaten the cancer.

His treatment, conducted at UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville, was part of an immunotherapy clinical trial targeting lesions and disrupting the cancerous cell cycle that found success after 10 rounds of chemo. In a post on Twitter in February, Britton wrote:

In August, I was diagnosed with cancerous tumors all over my body including both humeri, both femurs, both hips, spots in my rib cage, countless numbers on my scapula/clavicle. Today after 10 rounds of chemo, I can say ALL of these tumors are dead and inactive.

Of course, treatments were not over; that would take three more months. But a couple of weeks ago, Britton got the news everyone was hoping for.

“Things are great!” he exclaimed. “My final scans were good, and I rang the bell!” Ringing the bell signifies the end of chemotherapy treatment. (Watch as Britton rings his bell.)

Just 10 months after first feeling the effects of cancer, Britton Daniel walked with his classmates during Oviedo High’s commencement exercises. 

He earned a full scholarship to attend Seminole State College this fall — and eventually plans on attending Auburn University, his father’s alma mater. Britton’s goal is to become a physician’s assistant.

“It came to me after my treatment,” he says. “I thought about becoming a nurse, then figured I might as well be a P.A.”