BRADEN RIVER — Three weeks into the season, the Braden River High football team has been forced to take a new approach to the game.
The initial depth charts have been tossed aside as the Pirates continue to search for an identity.
Braden River has only scored seven points in two games this season, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
Braden River has been plagued with numerous injuries so far this season. With close to 10 players out with shoulder, knee and other injuries, the Pirates have had to readjust their game plan, because they are continually having to shuffle new players in and out of the system, week in and week out.
“When you don’t have much depth to begin with, we’ve got small numbers the way it is, and then to spend a whole week trying to get the next guy ready and then all of a sudden he goes down, it’s the next guy,” coach Curt Bradley said. “Our injury chart is about nine or 10 (guys) by now.”
Perhaps no team has faced more adversity in recent years than the Pirates, who have endured loss, injuries and personnel changes. And, yet, no matter how hard they are knocked down, the Pirates somehow manage to bounce back.
It’s that belief in one another and ability to never give up that Braden River will rely on after enduring its latest setback Friday night.
With less than two minutes remaining in the Pirates’ 42-0 loss to North Port, Braden River’s Chase Fisher suffered a spinal injury on a kickoff, in what turned out to be the final play of the game, and he had to be carted off the field.
As the players huddled together in silence before heading off the field, the reality that there’s more to life than football began to resonate.
“It sort of puts things into perspective. You think (losing) is bad, and then something like that, real life happens, and it really hits home,” said Bradley. “Our hearts and prayers are with Chase.”
Fisher suffered a concussion and a broken vertebra, but had regained some movement in his legs, and he was scheduled to come home from the hospital this week.
Relying on the strength of their teammate, the Pirates will return to the field tomorrow night, as they head to Palmetto to take on the Tigers, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and reached the Class 5A state semifinals last fall.
For the third straight game, Braden River will look to a couple of younger players to step up and fill the void. The road won’t be easy, but the Pirates aren’t a team that shies away from adversity.
“We’ve got to change the culture,” Bradley said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve got some younger guys and some older guys who haven’t experienced a lot of success, and it’s going to take some time to learn success and teach them success.
“We might have some growing pains in the get-go, but I’m not a very patient person, and we’ve got to get it going,” Bradley said. “It’s not the players. It’s the program, so it’s going to take some time.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thunder roll, Mustangs fall short
The Out-of-Door Academy football team defeated the Community School of Naples 33-23 in district action Sept. 7.
Senior quarterback Evan Wilson threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another score to lead the way for the Thunder. Austin Hoppe caught a pair of touchdowns, and J.T. Fischer racked up 105 yards on the ground. David Grain had two interceptions to lead the way defensively for ODA.
ODA returns to district action Sept. 14 at Moore Haven.
The Lakewood Ranch High football team fell to Southeast 12-7 in non-district action Sept. 7.
Quarterback Wyatt McLeod scored the Mustangs’ lone touchdown on a 25-yard run in the first quarter. Lakewood returns to action Sept. 14 versus Bayshore.
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