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More Than a Game

Brandon High player, grandfather share special bond

No play begins from the line of scrimmage without a snap from the center.

It's a position that carries special significance for Brandon High senior Jake Duffell, who is following in the footsteps of his late grandfather, Cecil Darsey, who played center at the school in 1957-58.

It was a sunny Saturday morning before the Brandon homecoming dance and Jake, along with his parents, Cheryl and Gregg, headed down to Parrish to visit the grave of Darsey. A few tears were shed as happy memories were exchanged on the trip down.

"It was a great feeling to go watch games with my dad," Cheryl Duffell said. "Knowing that Dad was proud of Jake even when the plays weren't very good, he would say Jake is doing great. I know he would be really proud of Jake."

Darsey passed away on July 19, 2012, of cancer at the age of 72. Jake and his grandfather were always close, and not just in their relationship. Their birthdays are three days apart.

Jake's parents are thrilled that he has such a good role model to look up to.

"It's great. You couldn't have a better role model. Sometimes it's like I don't have the words because it is such a good thing," Cheryl said.

While Jake misses his grandfather, he tries to remember to keep his head up on the field, advice his grandfather would often give him. He knows his grandfather, while he may not be sitting in the stands on Friday night, isn't far away.

"I miss him a lot. I miss looking up in the stands and seeing him. It always put a smile on my face," said Jake. "He's always on the field with me. Always."

Do you have an idea that you would like to see featured in "More Than a Game"? Eve Edelheit can be reached at or (813) 226-3309.

Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit will scan the county to focus on the ancillary aspects — players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders — that make prep football in this area "More Than a Game."

Brandon High player, grandfather share special bond 10/16/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 2:29pm]
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