EAST MANATEE -- When Ryan Fischer walks through the graduation line this year at Braden River, they ought to hand him a plumber’s license along with his diploma.
For the past three years, Fischer has plugged up many leaks in the Pirates football program, and this year he may have done his best job.
Braden River has suffered a lot of cracks due to injuries, including last week when starting quarterback Steven Ross was knocked out of the game.
Fortunately, Braden River head football coach Don Purvis didn’t have to look in the Yellow Pages for a replacement.
At halftime, Purvis told the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Fischer he needed him to take over the offense against Port Charlotte.
Fischer didn’t flinch.
He did more than just put the offense in his capable hands. He scored two second-half touchdowns to finish the night with three and led the Pirates to their first victory of the season.
“He is by far the most versatile player I’ve ever coached from special teams to pretty much every skill position on offense and the secondary on defense,” Purvis said. “He can do all of it, and he can do it very, very well. It’s a rare a thing to have.
“I went to Ryan at halftime and said ‘What do you think about quarterback?’ He got a big grin on his face and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
It wasn’t an easy adjustment. In moving to quarterback Fischer, loses the team’s best receiver, which happens to be him. He leads the Pirates with 183 receiving yards and is tied for second in Manatee County with 18 catches. He also fills in at cornerback or safety and has returned punts.
He first played quarterback on the varsity as a sophomore, replacing his older brother, Stephen, when he was lost for the season with an injury. Fischer started last year at quarterback, but moved to receiver.
“I like playing all these positions because it keeps my options open for college,” Fischer said. “I felt comfortable with quarterback because I played there a lot, and I know the plays, but my favorite position is slot receiver. I think it’s my best chance to play in college. My second favorite is cornerback.”
Fischer felt particularly good in last week’s 20-10 win because it gave the Pirates a much-needed boost of confidence.
Depending on Ross’ ankle injury, Fischer could be under center tonight in the Pirates’ district opener against Manatee.
Fischer said he doesn’t fear the highly-touted Canes, who have demolished their only two local opponents by a combined 96-12. Two years ago, he took over in the Manatee game when his brother went down and helped keep the heavy underdog Pirates in the game in what was eventually a 14-7 loss.
“I’m hoping we can go back and do what we did my sophomore year. They play football just like we do,” Fischer said.
Ross didn’t practice until Wednesday, and Purvis said it could be a game-time decision on whether he plays. If he doesn’t, it is likely Fischer will be in there because of his experience and mobility against a fierce Manatee rush.
“It’s a big, defensive, physical line that gets after the passer real well, and whoever it is (at quarterback) they have to be mobile,” Purvis said. “What makes Ryan unique is that he is not a player who is a pure receiver or a pure DB that just happens to be decent at quarterback. He is very good at everything he has done. We wanted to put him at receiver because it gives us more weapons.”
Fischer has worked hard at the position and attended some summer camps to work on that part of his game.
“I know how to get to areas now. As a receiver before it was all about running good routes, but now it’s trying to get to an area where there is nobody,” he said.
Ryan also plays baseball and his brother is on the team at State College of Florida. But he doesn’t expect to be joining him.
“Football is what I want to play in college and hopefully I can play at the I-AA level,” Fischer said. “It’s a more active sport, and I like to run around. In baseball, you are just kind of standing around.”