Sam’s spring football stops: Foundation Academy

Observer Sports Editor Sam Albuquerque is taking you behind the scenes of your favorite high school football team during the 2024 spring session.

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Now that the first impressions of Week One of the high school spring football season have been made and are out of the way, Week Two is all about finding out who is real, who is going to help your team win games and who can handle the grind of spring ball. 

For the second edition of the spring series, Orange Observer Sports Editor Sam Albuquerque continues his rounds during the 2024 spring football session to bring you all the best notes, tidbits and thoughts he picks up from visiting West Orange’s and Southwest Orange’s teams. 

The team featured in this edition of Sam’s spring football stops is Foundation Academy.

More from Sam's spring football stops: The First Academy | Ocoee High | Olympia High | West Orange High | Windermere High

Foundation Academy

2023 record: 7-3

Spring game: 7 p.m. May 24 vs. South Lake High

Coach: Andre Walker, fourth season

Key returners, additions: ATH CJ Bronaugh, QB Azariel Woods, LB Aiden Cubero and ATH Steven Grecco

Since taking over the program in 2021, Foundation coach Andre Walker not only has established himself and the Lions as a force — posting three consecutive winning seasons — but also has shown that he and his staff can deal with challenges. Those include integrating new players, the loss of players (either because of graduation or transfer) and reteaching the identity at the foundation of Lions football. 

In 2024, with almost one-third of Foundation’s football roster not returning and only seven of 22 starters back, Walker and his staff once again will get to show us what they can do.

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No. 1: C.J. Bronaugh is going to be all over the field in 2024

It’s no secret C.J. Bronaugh has star potential, but for the past two seasons, older brother J.T. Bronaugh has been the face of Foundation football. Now, with big bro heading to Eastern Michigan University, the younger Bronaugh is expected to step into the void left behind.

“He’s going to be pretty much the focal point of our team,” Walker said. “We’re going to ask him to be a team leader. He’s one of those guys (who) has to step up to the plate being a rising junior. He’s been asked to step up in a leadership role, whereas in the past, he’s been the young guy. But now he’s being thrust into a position that he’s more than ready for.” 

Bronaugh will be more than just a leader in the huddle. On the field, he’ll be asked to produce at a high level on both sides of the ball. 

“He’s definitely going to be the top receiver here, but also, he’ll help us out specifically in the secondary as a safety some this year,” Walker said. “He’s known for his ability to cover at the corner position; that’s probably (his) strongest attribute. But with a playmaker like him and the speed that he possesses, we’re going to put him in a position where he can help all over.”

No. 2: Young, exciting quarterbacks

Following the transfer of 2023 starting quarterback and Navy commit Michael Dove to Lake Nona High, the question of who would be under center in 2024 arose. But fear not: Foundation has plenty of talent at the QB position going into 2024 and beyond.

The two dicing it up in a recent practice were rising sophomore Azariel Woods, a transfer from Cypress Creek High, and rising eighth-grader Gianni Rodriguez. 

Woods, the likely Day One starter, is a 6-foot-3 wiry quarterback who flashes elite athleticism and a strong arm.

“He’s young, he’s very athletic, and he has some natural instincts that are going to … help us out going forward,” Walker said. “It’s a competition … but right now … we’re leaning more toward the older gentleman. Gianni is a tremendous talent, but he’s only in seventh grade.”

Rodriguez shows poise behind center and a good arm with flashes of greatness.

The two should provide an incredible amount of talent and stability to the position — if everything remains the same — until 2029. 

No. 3: Growth is success for new-look Lions

When you lose one-third of your roster and only have seven of 22 returning starters, your team is going to look pretty different. But Walker is excited to see how this new group of Lions are going to develop. 

“We’re a young team, and this year is going to be one of those years that will be about growth,” Walker said. “To me, a successful season for this group will be gaining understanding and being able to work what’s being taught in a fluid, effective, fast and efficient way. … Honestly, if we can compete for a chance to play in the playoffs, that would be ultimately a successful season. If we have an opportunity to do that, I think that’s all we can ask.”

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

Email[email protected] 





Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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