What a time for Braden River High football to play what coach Curt Bradley called the team's most complete game of the season.
The Pirates were all over rival Lakewood Ranch High from the start and defeated the Mustangs 55-7.
After last week's win against Sarasota High left the Pirates unsatisfied, the team played inspired football Friday night, starting with junior quarterback Bryan Gagg. He completed his first 13 passes on the night and ended the game 15-of-17 for 362 yards and four touchdown passes: Two to junior wideout Knowledge McDaniel, one to senior wideout Craivon Koonce and one to sophomore tight end Travis Tobey.
It was a far cry from last year's contest, when Lakewood Ranch held steady for a half before Braden River's talent overtook them and the Pirates won 31-7.
"Last year, it was rainy and it was at their place," Bradley said. "We didn't get off to a great start. We were a little bit sloppy. Tonight, from the first drive, we were locked in, I thought.
"I was very impressed with their performance tonight."
Bradley said Koonce, a less-heralded name than other Braden River offensive weapons, is "the ultimate team player," always giving his all in practice and putting effort into blocking for his teammates. He has emerged in recent weeks, and Bradley credits that to Koonce's work ethic.
"In football, when you are that focused, the game pays you back on Friday nights," he said.
Koonce finished with 153 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Braden River began pulling its starters after the Pirates' first possession of the second half, which resulted in McDaniel's second touchdown, a screen pass he took 76 yards for the score.
"We had a great week of practice," Gagg said. "Being a rivalry game, we expected a big crowd. Everyone was really excited to play, then we came out and scored on the first drive. The (offensive) line played great. Me and the receivers were clicking the whole game. Everything was clicking."
Senior Chase Sharp had the Mustangs lone score, a goal line touchdown run in the second quarter. Sharp finished with 40 yards on 10 carries. The Mustangs did not find much success though the air, but tight end Mickey Koczercut caught three passes for 49 yards.
Lakewood Ranch coach Mick Koczersut was proud of his team despite the final score.
"Our kids played hard," Lakewood Ranch coach Mick Koczersut said. "Braden River is a very good team, and very well coached, so our kids played their butts off (tonight)."
The Pirates are now 4-1 on the year, while the Mustangs stand 3-3.