Cornell commit Branch leading Southeast during undefeated season

The senior wide receiver and defensive back has been a key part to Southeast's current undefeated season.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – From wearing a helmet in diapers to wearing a helmet as a Lincoln Southeast Knight, football as always been a part of Derek Branch.

“It’s been football since I was young,” Branch said. “I’ve been working hard since 8th grade to reach this goal.”

That goal is to play college football which Branch reached as he announced last month on Twitter. Branch will be suiting up to play football for Cornell University next year.

“To get the opportunity to go play Division I football in the Ivy League is something that I just couldn’t pass up,” Branch said.

“I think Derek is a guy that leads in a bunch of different ways,” head coach Ryan Gottula said. “Obviously just with his work ethic both in the off season and on the practice field. More specifically as he has gotten older here, he’s been a great leader for the younger guys in our program as far as setting that standard of what work ethic looks like in our program.”

Now Derek’s senior year, the Knights are undefeated with one game left to go in the regular season.

“We decided we are going to take it week by week,” Gottula said. We have really simple goals we want to go 1-0 every week, and our kids have done a great job of buying into that.”

“We know we can’t take any weeks off,” Branch said. “We just have to keep getting better.”

And with a season like this, it’s hard not to think of the postseason and potentially winning a state title.

“That would be amazing to bring that home to Southeast,” Branch said. “It’s a goal since you get here to add another. That would be an amazing feeling, and I hope we can get there this year.”

But taking it week by week, Branch wants his legacy at Southeast to be remembered by his work ethic.

“I just want to be know as a player who showed up every day, gave everything he had to the program,” Branch said. “Just a tough, gritty player that made plays.”

And Derek is not done making plays yet. He still wants to make a little more noise in a Knight’s uniform.

“Maybe get a few more interceptions,” Branch said. “We will see.”

Categories: High School Sports, Sports