Braden River High football Head Coach Curt Bradley was glad his team walked away from its game with Lakewood Ranch High with a 41-23 win — the program's eighth-straight win over the rival Mustangs — but he was not satisfied with its performance.
After a fast start had Braden River (2-0) leading 27-6 over the Mustangs (0-3) in the second quarter, the Pirates failed to extend the margin further, instead letting the Mustangs hang around until the fourth quarter. Lakewood Ranch had the ball down 34-23 with 8:22 left in the game and threatened to get within one possession, but the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs. A two-yard touchdown run from junior Marcus Galloway on the ensuing possession sealed the game for Braden River, but Bradley knows his team will have to be better in the weeks ahead.
"I'm still waiting for this team to play a four-quarter game," Bradley said. "Too often there was a lack of focus tonight."
Junior do-it-all player Yahshua Edwards had three rushing touchdowns as well as an 88-yard receiving touchdown from junior quarterback Lucas Despot. The Pirates intercepted Lakewood Ranch senior quarterback Sebastian Mejia three times, with junior Zion Newell turning one into a pick six.
From a Lakewood Ranch perspective, Head Coach Scott Paravicini was happy with the progress his offense made since last week's 41-6 loss against Cardinal Mooney High, but acknowledged that there is still a gap between where the team is and where it wants to be.
"We continue to fight and continue to work hard," Paravicini said. "I keep telling them, we're a puzzle. We're trying to put the pieces together. We put a couple more pieces on the puzzle tonight, but we have a long way to go."
The Mustangs got an early boost from senior Dalin Koscielski, who took a kickoff return 95 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Mejia threw a 25-yard touchdown to sophomore tight end Cooper Orzel in the second quarter. Senior running back Simon Freed had an eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Next for Braden River is a road game against Manatee High (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15, while Lakewood Ranch will play IMG Academy Blue (0-2) on the road at 7 p.m. Sept. 14.