The two programs had not played since 2018
No one knew what to expect when Braden River High and Lakewood Ranch High met on the football field Friday night at Braden River.
Despite being local rivals, the two programs had not played each other since 2018, a 56-0 win for the Pirates. Lakewood Ranch has improved since then and Braden River's 2021 outlook was a mystery; the Pirates had not played a game thanks to a bye in week one and a postponed game against Riverview High in week two.
It turns out the 2021 Pirates-Mustangs match-up looked a lot like fans remembered it. Braden River controlled the game from its first offensive drive, riding an explosive rushing attack and an aggressive defensive scheme to a 48-16 win. The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
The Pirates (1-0) got on the board first. After starting running back Justice McDaniel injured his ankle on Braden River's first offensive play, freshman Trayvon Pinder stepped into the role. He took the opportunity and ran with it, literally, as he sprinted 36 yards for a touchdown to cap the team's first possession.
Pinder was far from done. He finished with 18 carries for 196 yards and four touchdowns. After the game, Pirates Coach Curt Bradley praised Pinder for being prepared to play as much as he did even though it was not the plan. Bradley also praised the team's offensive lineman — seniors Albert Dowling, Alex Colas and Ofa Matelau; junior Mason Johnson; and sophomore Julius Edwards — for opening holes in the Lakewood Ranch defense.
"I didn't know what we had, to be honest," Bradley said. "We hadn't played yet and there has been limited practices. But we had to get out here and play, and when you're strong on the offensive line, that takes a lot of pressure off a lot of people. Good job to them for coming out here and handling (the Mustangs) like they did."
Sophomore quarterback Nick Trier made his first varsity start for the Pirates. Trier completed 11 of 15 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Lakewood Ranch (1-2) senior quarterback Cameron Madison threw for 231 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown to senior Isaac Ashley in the first quarter, and ran for a touchdown in the game's closing seconds. He also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Pirates junior linebacker Aidan Dangler.
Mustangs Coach Rashad West was not happy with his team's effort.
"What didn't we do wrong?" West said. "We've just got to correct it all. I have got to do a better job of getting them ready to play.
"A lot of it is effort, so we'll fix that. We'll do our (best). We have to play with a greater sense of urgency."
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