SARASOTA — Braden River football coach Don Purvis didn’t quite know what to expect when the Pirates took the field in their annual spring game May 27.
But one thing was for certain — Purvis was hoping for a challenging opponent that would reveal both his players’ strengths and weaknesses. Purvis found exactly what he was looking for in host Riverview.
The Rams racked up 298 yards on the ground on their way to a 42-21 victory over the Pirates. Riverview running back Evan Jones lit up the Pirates defense, rushing for 259 yards on 20 carries and scoring four touchdowns on runs of 2, 80, 40 and 56 yards.
“That’s a heck of a running back over there,” Purvis said. “We had him a few times, and then he just flat took off. I give them a lot of credit.
“For us, we’re still kind of learning,” he added. “Our defense we like to line up and make adjustments to what we see and that’s part of spring. You put kids out there and see how they react. Our kids tried hard, so I’m pleased with their effort.”
Sure Purvis and his players would have liked to have walked out of the Ram Bowl victorious, but for Purvis, the Pirates’ loss was — in a way — a small victory.
“I was expecting to find our weaknesses and strengths; and we want to see who our starters should be,” Purvis said. “I think we did that last (Thursday) night.
“I feel like the guys are starting to show me that they’re starting to learn our system on both sides of the ball,” he said. “That was great for our guys to see a great football team. We wanted to see exactly where we are at.”
The Pirates got off to a quick start, taking a 7-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown run by Javar Baity on their opening possession.
Braden River quarterback Ryan Fischer found the end zone on a 1-yard scamper with 29 seconds remaining in the first half to pull the Pirates within a touchdown at 21-14.
Fischer found the end zone again in the second half on a dazzling 33-yard touchdown in which he recovered his own fumble, avoided a sack and reversed direction on his way in for the score.
“He obviously made some plays that weren’t drawn up in the room there,” Purvis said of Fischer. “He’s starting to learn what we’re trying to do, and I think he was a steady leader for the guys. He didn’t get upset. He kept trying to respond, and I really thought he did well.”
Fischer completed six of 21 passes for 53 yards and had one interception. He also rushed for 66 yards on nine carries. Jaredd Pate led the way for Braden River on the ground, rushing for 105 yards on 17 carries after sitting out the first quarter.
The Pirates will spend the summer in the weight room focusing on strength and conditioning with the hopes of improving in preparation for their Kickoff Classic in late August.
“Our strength and conditioning is very important to us right now,” Purvis said. “A lot of the things with our offense are about timing and that only comes with more and more repetitions. We need to get a lot of repetitions on offense to start getting clean with what we’re doing.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EARLY MISTAKES COST MUSTANGS
The Lakewood Ranch football team was unable to overcome an early three-touchdown deficit, as the visiting Mustangs fell to Island Coast 35-14 in their Spring Game May 28.
The Gators, who captured a Class 2B district title last year, scored on a 70-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the game. Island Coast added a 54-yard touchdown run on its second possession and recovered a Lakewood fumble for another score.
Lakewood quarterback Reggie Lindsey connected with Lenny Twenty for a touchdown, and backup quarterback Zack Reda connected with Connor Lewellen in the second half for the Mustangs final score of the night.
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Food and fun
The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and its Young Leaders Alliance have something to talk about: the organizations collected 764 pounds of nonperishable food and $1,295 cash to benefit The Food Bank of Manatee/Meals on Wheels PLUS.
River Club’s Cheryl Kaufman says she’s still pinching herself.
A little “Ho! Ho! Ho!” can go a long way this holiday season.