BRADEN RIVER — Justin Fischer grew up sporting maroon and black.
Those were his trademark colors.
And, at the time, he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
For five years, Fischer watched his older brothers, Stephen and Ryan, run the Braden River offense. He spent his Friday nights standing on the sidelines inside Pirate Stadium, getting a firsthand look at what it takes to compete with the area’s elite.
He watched his brothers lead the Pirates to three consecutive victories over East County rival Lakewood Ranch en route to three straight regional tournament appearances from 2008 to 2010.
Growing up, Fischer could only assume he would follow in his older brothers’ footsteps.
Now, five years later, the sophomore running back wants to break into his own, the same way both of his brothers did during their respective sophomore seasons, albeit in an entirely different uniform.
After spending his freshman year at The Out-of-Door Academy, Fischer transferred to Lakewood Ranch prior to the start of the season.
It’s a move Fischer never envisioned growing up, but it’s one the former East Manatee Bulldogs running back relishes.
“It’s great, actually,” Fischer says of the transition. “It’s just a great opportunity here.”
Fischer returned to Pirate Stadium Sept. 20 for the first time as a player.
Heeding his family’s advice, Fischer rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown to help lead Lakewood to a 42-31 victory over Braden River in the Class 7A-District 10 opener. It was Fischer’s first touchdown of the season.
“They just said, ‘Do what you can do and show them what you can do,’” Fischer says. “It was my time to shine. I just did what I could. This is my first time being around this many people. It’s a great feeling.”
Fischer got the bulk of the carries for Lakewood, who was without starting running back A’Shawn Angel.
“It’s really nice to balance it out,” Lakewood quarterback Chad Rex says.
Fischer also caught a 68-yard pass in the fourth quarter to set up Wyatt McLeod’s 5-yard go-ahead touchdown.
“J.T.’s special, and I’m glad he’s with us,” Lakewood coach Shawn Trent says. “Having him and Angel for three years is going to be pretty nice. He did a great job. He made a couple of huge plays.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].