Braden Finch

Braden Finch

MAHOMET — For the last two years, Braden Finch would take a knee on the sidelines of Frank Dutton Field and watch his older brother, Dawson, lead the Mahomet-Seymour offense.

Braden watched Dawson throw for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns last year. His big brother only had five interceptions and averaged over 120 passing yards per game. Braden would also watch how Dawson led his teammates both on the field and on the sidelines.

But now it’s time for a change. After two years of seasoning, it’s Braden’s turn to lead the M-S offense, and he’ll lean on the things he’s learned from Dawson.

“Getting to watch how he handled things really impacted me,” Braden said. “I learned a ton from Dawson. One thing I’d have to say that stuck out to me is the way he talked to his teammates. If anyone is upset or hanging their head, just walk over to them and pick them up because no one is going to play better when they’re upset.”

Braden has learned from Dawson’s example, but make no mistake, the younger Finch is ready to put his own mark on the program.

“Braden Finch has not only taken this role, but he’s made it his own,” M-S coach Jon Adkins said. “He has his own style. Long-haired dude, who has short shorts on the practice field and dances to music. But he’s been awesome. He definitely has taken this offense and become a leader of it. He’s telling kids where to go and what to do. He’s leading the offense down the right path.”

Finch will bring some swagger to the field and some confidence in his own abilities. When he gets a chance, Finch will want to gun it deep down the field. If he throws an interception, it’s no big deal because he’ll be ready to chuck another touchdown on the next possession. When your quarterback has confidence in himself and the offense, it can invigorate the rest of the offense.

“Growing up, when we’d get in the back yard, I always want to throw it deep. Getting into high school, I just kept that going and it’s worked.”

Adkins’ new offense is fast-paced and frenetic. He wants his offense to snap the football every 13 seconds to keep the defense off-balance. The Bulldogs haven’t installed their entire offense yet, but M-S had some success at the Warrensburgh-Latham 7-on-7 tournament last weekend. M-S went 4-1, and Finch showcased some good chemistry with top playmakers Clay Hubble, Zach Travis, Jack Koller, Cole Hubble and Noah Crowley.

“It’s been a blast to learn the new offense,” Finch said. “The 7-on-7 tournament went great. Our receivers were catching everything, and I felt like I was throwing the ball well. A lot of teams were impressed by how we played.”

It really is a season of change for M-S football, and it’s not just a new offense. Adkins replaced 11-year coach Keith Pogue, and there’s a whole new vibe around the program.

“You can’t come to practice and not see a change on the field,” Finch said. “The tempo is different, the music is blasting, people are laughing. When it’s time to get down and ready, everyone is focused. It’s going to be a super fun year.”

The jump from junior varsity to varsity could be an intimidating move for many people. But not Finch. Last winter, the sophomore played sparingly off the bench early in the season for M-S basketball. By the end of the year, Finch was an instrumental piece. No matter the sport, Finch plays with confidence.

“It’s definitely going to be a change from playing JV to varsity, but I’m not extremely worried,” Finch said. “I’ve never been really scared of moving up and facing the challenges that will come.”

For the third straight year, a Finch will lead the M-S football offense out onto the field. Now it’s time for the little brother to show what he’s learned.