Gainesville High School seniors Brandon Bowden and Andrew Tisher signed to play football at the college level on Wednesday.
This past season the GHS football team won more games than the previous two seasons combined. The Hurricanes (8-3) also won a district title.
Defense wins championships and that was certainly the case for the Hurricanes, who allowed 16 points or less in seven games this past fall.
Spearheading the effort was Bowden, who signed to play with the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
One of the key members of the Hurricanes’ defense, Bowden recorded 44 solo tackles as a senior, along with 11 assisted tackles and a team-leading 14 tackles for a loss.
“This means a lot,” said Bowden, who signed his letter of intent on Wednesday in front of family, friends, and coaches. “Coming from nothing to this is amazing. It’s a blessing.”
He also led GHS with six sacks.
“Brandon was a steady force on the defensive line for us,” said GHS coach Dock Pollard. “When he was at his best our defense was at its best.”
Bowden said the plan was to leave Gainesville, and that he was impressed with the Division-III program.
“They have a winning tradition that I’m looking forward to being a part of,” he said. “I feel like I can grow there and carry on with my career.”
Pollard said he has earned the opportunity to play at the next level.
“I feel like he’s one of the best defensive linemen in our area,” he said. “He’s got quickness and athleticism and as he continues to learn how to play football then there’s no telling how good he can be.”
Meanwhile, Tisher will continue his education and football career at Stetson University in DeLand.
Despite missing most of his senior season due to a lower back injury, Tisher, a punter and kicker, will play at the next level.
“I started as a freshman buried on the depth chart, so I transferred to GHS (from Buchholz) and I worked my way up to get to be the starter my junior year but then I had injuries, recovered, and then got injured again this year,” he explained. “It was thrilling to be able to get another chance to play football.”
Pollard said that “the people that evaluate football players feel that he can play so that’s all that matters.”
“He dealt with a lot of injuries and didn’t get to play much so we don’t really know what his ceiling is,” Pollard explained. “Having that perseverance to push through, and his character, I believe that his character was the reason why he’s getting this opportunity because he didn’t really get the chance to play.”
One of the things that stood out to Stetson was Tisher’s 80-yard punt in the spring game, which travelled 70 yards and rolled 10 yards.
“I had a really good spring game,” said Tisher, who attended Stetson’s kicking camp as a sophomore and developed a relationship with the program. “They had seen my camp film from the spring and some other film that I was starting to make closer to the end of the season when I was getting healthier and they liked what they saw, so they offered me.”
Tisher, who has also been attending some of Stetson’s home games, said he’s been doing physical therapy at the University of Florida, along with some kicking sessions, and is about 95 percent healthy.
“When I first visited the campus I just thought ‘wow, this is really like an open campus, a nice field to it, a lot of palm trees, which I thought was cool, and I just thought it would be really cool to somehow end up here’,” he said. “It just felt like it was a really good place for me.”