SARASOTA — Braden River High backup quarterback Ryan Fischer doesn’t take any of the snaps in practice.
Instead the 5-foot-9 sophomore spends most of his time playing wide receiver, looking to his older brother, Stephen, to control the Pirates’ offense from the quarterback position.
So it’s not at all surprising that Fischer didn’t know what to expect when he found out a mere five hours before kickoff last Friday that his older brother had gone home sick with the flu and that he would be stepping in under center.
“I was a little nervous at first, but as soon as that first snap came, I was alright,” Fischer said. “The first couple plays were kind of nerve-racking, but it got easier as the game went on.”
Fischer found his rhythm early; and with the help of running back Tevin Bryant and another strong performance by the defense, which created four turnovers and gave Fischer a short field to work with most of the night, the Pirates’ signal-caller led Braden River to a 22-13 victory over the Sailors. With the win, the Pirates improve to 2-1.
“I’m not even remotely surprised at all,” Volz said of Fischer’s performance. “Ryan is one of those kids that comes out, competes every day and is going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a good athlete. He’s a good, smart football player. So how he performed is exactly how I expected.”
Braden River took control of the game on the opening kickoff when the Pirates recovered an onside kick and assumed possession on Sarasota’s 48-yard line.
The Pirates found the end zone on their next possession when Fischer connected with Sharrod Neasman-Glover for a 10-yard touchdown. The touchdown came on Fischer’s second attempt throwing to Braden River’s first-team offense.
“I have never snapped in practice — this was really like my first time in pads playing quarterback,” Fischer said. “It was definitely a lot easier knowing that I have Tevin who can run and receivers that can catch, and I could just feel comfortable.”
The Pirates further extended their lead on the Sailors’ opening possession when a high snap forced Sarasota punter Sean Hurley to down the ball in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 9-0 Braden River lead.
The Pirates defense created more havoc for the Sailors late in the first quarter when linebacker Keith Grafton recovered a fumble and ran it in four yards for a score. Sarasota responded with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter.
Braden River all but sealed the game with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter when Bryant punched the ball in from four yards out. Bryant, who was held to just 93 yards on 30 carries, tweaked his knee early in the second quarter when a late hit out of bounds sent Bryant crashing into the Pirates’ bench, resulting in a 15-yard penalty against the Sailors.
“They were swarming to the ball,” Bryant said. “I hurt my knee and rolled my ankle a little bit, but I stayed in the game.”
The win also marked both Volz and defensive coordinator Mark Rupprecht’s first victory over their former team. The two coached together at Sarasota before moving over to Braden River last year.
A lot has changed since then, including the addition of several new coaches and players on the Sarasota sidelines. So although one could assume that the Pirates would’ve had an edge heading into their matchup against the Sailors, Volz was quick to point out that wasn’t the case.
“I didn’t change a whole lot of terminology from when I was here,” Volz said. “The systems we run at Braden River are the same ones we ran there. There’s been a lot of changeover here, and it’s certainly much different that it was when we were (at Sarasota).
“It’s certainly an emotional game (though), and I think that over time, this could turn into a pretty good rivalry for us,” he said.
The Pirates players couldn’t help but feel a little bit of satisfaction in helping their coaches defeat their former team.
“Sarasota was talking junk on the field,” Bryant said. “They were like, ‘That’s for you, coach Volz,’ so it was nice to win.”
The Pirates will return to action tomorrow night when they host Bayshore in their district opener. A season ago, the Pirates defeated the Bruins 42-28 in non-district action. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
BR 15 0 7 0 — 22
S 0 13 0 0 — 13
BR — Sharrod Neasman-Glover 10 pass from Ryan Fischer (Kadin Kerns kick), 8:12
BR — Safety (Sean Hurley tackled in end zone), 6:49
BR — Keith Grafton 4 fumble recovery (kick failed), 3:36
S — Jake Desrosiers 10 pass from Hurley (Mike Morrissey kick), 11:53
S — Desmond Hurley 3 run (pass failed), 1:25
BR — Tevin Bryant 4 run (Kerns kick), 3:55
Rushing — Braden River: Bryant 30-93, Fischer 8-24. Sarasota: Artavious Curry 10-46, D. Hurley 15-40, Greg Jackson 4-16, Eric Halliwell 1-4, S. Hurley 2-(minus 4).
Passing — Braden River: Fischer 3-10-35-1. Sarasota: S. Hurley 4-14-43-0.
Receiving — Braden River: Joseph Meador 1-21, Neasman-Glover 2-14, Bryant 1-0. Sarasota: Desrosiers 3-24, Luke Paige 1-19.