For a moment, it appeared things would be different.
Lakewood Ranch High football entered its Friday night home game against rival Braden River High having lost six straight games in the series. On Friday, the Mustangs started the game like a team determined to end that streak. Led by senior running back Kevin Everhart and junior quarterback Clayton Dees, who was making his second career start, Lakewood Ranch stampeded down the field and punctuated its opening statement with a five yard touchdown run by Everhart, who was mobbed by his teammates on the sideline as a steady dose of rain arrived.
It was the ideal start for the Mustangs, but the Pirates took the punch, then did what they seem to always do in this series: punch back.
Braden River (2-0) would score 33 straight points, 20 in the first half, to put the game out of reach. Lakewood Ranch (1-1) would add a late touchdown to make the final score 33-14. The Pirates extended their series winning streak to seven games.
Pirates junior running back Trayvon Pinder ran for three touchdowns and senior running back Roy Burchett ran for one. The Pirates also recovered a Mustangs fumble in the end zone for a score. Everhart had both Mustangs scores.
Pirates Head Coach Curt Bradley said he and his coaching staff have to do a better job of preparing his defense for opening drives; the Pirates also allowed an opening drive touchdown to Palmetto High last week before coming back to win in overtime. Bradley was also proud of his team for the way it responded after the first drive, especially his defensive line, which got consistent pressure on Dees and disrupted Everhart runs all night.
Mustangs Head Coach Rashad West said his team will have to be better in the trenches if it wants to compete with teams like Braden River.